UPDATE # 26 - March 27, 1997
PART 1: Take the Challenge!
PART 2: NASA TV Rebroadcasts "Countdown!
PART 3: Join in Discovery Channel Chats
PART 4: Launching the Planet Explorer Toolkit
PART 5: Team Journal: Exciting, Exhausting,
Frustrating and Fun: Somebody's Got to do it!
PART 6: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to
TAKE THE CHALLENGE!
Last week, in Challenge Question #1 you were asked:
If geology is the study of Earth (from the Greek geo-earth and logos-
knowledge), what should the study of Mars be called?
Areology, of course! "Ares" from the Greek meaning Mars. Remember,
Pathfinder will land in Ares Valles, the Valley of Ares!
A list of answers from all students who submitted them will be
posted on the Live From Mars Web site soon.
CQ #2: WHO ARE THEY?
Mars has always been a place that has engaged our imagination, as
well as our scientific curiosity. In the 19th and 20th centuries two
men with almost the same last name created the exact same titles
in two different media. Who were these men and what did they write
You are invited to send original student answers to us. We will list
the kids' names online and token prizes will be given to those with
the best answers. Send your answers to Jan Wee at:
Please include the words CHALLENGE QUESTION in the subject line of
NASA TV REBROADCASTS "COUNTDOWN!"
April 10 and 23: Live From Mars Program I "Countdown!"
Grade levels: 5-12, length of time: 57:30, rebroadcast of live
"Countdown!" introduces a new series of "Passport to Knowledge"
electronic field trips. Live From Mars Program I takes students
behind closed doors at Cape Canaveral to see NASA's Pathfinder
spacecraft close-up, just days before its successful early December
'96 launch, and invites students and teachers to follow Pathfinder
and Mars Global Surveyor online via the Internet and with hands-on
discovery activities throughout the next two school years.
Note: Effective March 15, 1997, the NASA TV satellite changed to:
GE-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical
polarization, with a frequency of 3880 Mhz, and audio of 6.8 Mhz.
2-3 pm, 5-6 pm, 8-9 pm, 11 pm-12 am, 2-3 am: all times Eastern.
NASA TV may preempt scheduled programming for live agency
JOIN IN DISCOVERY CHANNEL CHATS
Join Discovery Channel School and NASA's Quest Project for an
exciting week of WebChats with NASA experts!
Everyday uring the week of April 7-11, there will be a two-hour
chat from 11 am-1 pm Pacific and 2-4 pm Eastern. Topics include:
Monday - Today's Missions to Mars
Tuesday - Planning Space Missions
Wednesday - Looking for Life in Space
Thursday - Exploring the Solar System
Friday - Human Survival in Space
Each day, two or three different scientists will share their
experiences and knowledge about these topics. To join the chats go
The topics have been chosen to enhance the information presented in
Discovery Channel School's Earth to Mars Theme programming. You
are encouraged to view this material and then come and meet the
people doing this exciting work!
For more information please visit:
Earth to Mars programming airs on Discovery Channel the week of
March 31 - April 4: 9-10 am ET, 8-9 am CT, 10-11 am MT, 9-10 am
March 31: Understanding: The Universe
April 1: Destination Mars
April 2: He Conquered Space
April 3: Discover Magazine: Solar System
April 4: Life on Mars?
On The Learning Channel, be sure to set your VCR to record "The Path
to Mars" on TLC Elementary School. Airs April 1, 1997; 4-5 am ET, 3-
4 am CT, 2-3 am MT, 1-2 am PT.
For curriculum support materials for these programs see:
LAUNCHING THE PLANET EXPLORER TOOLKIT
The design and critical review phases of the Planet Explorer Toolkit
activity are now completed as students from grades 2-12 and their
educators reached consensus on the universal best toolkit for
planetary exploration. Guidance and first-hand "real science, real
scientists" insights were shared by NASA JPL Mars Pathfinder
Mission Planner, David Mittman, IMP (Imager for Mars Pathfinder)
Designer, Peter Smith, and Planetary Scientist, Sanjay Limaye,
during the discussion and consensus reaching period.
March 24 through April 11 is the launch phase, the time when
students investigate, collect data, and report findings that uniquely
describe their selected Planetary Data Input (PDI) site.
Please note that all classes, regardless of past participation, are
invited to participate in the launch phase and be part of the data
collection and follow-up activities! Consider joining this fun and
easy data collection activity!
A Web-based PDI form will enable students to input their data via
the Live From Mars P.E.T Web pages. If you need a form contact Jan Wee at
PDI data from participating classes will be accessible via the Web
along with interpretive follow-up activities. Each participating
class will have their own PDI data Web page with links to their four
most revealing images enabling all to have close-up views of the PDI
sites. Students have chosen to also include images of themselves,
the Planetary Explorers, "on location" at their PDI site!
A special enrichment activity, "Where in the World Are These
Mystery Sites?" will add a bit of intrigue and mystery to the P.E.T.
as students have the opportunity to identify mystery sites from the
end of April through May.
For more information about the Planet Explorer Toolkit activity, see
the full overview at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars Select "Featured Events," where you will find the Planet Explorer
MARS TEAM JOURNAL
Exciting, Exhausting, Frustrating and Fun: Somebody's Got to do it!
by Bridget Landry
[Editor's note: Bridget is a deputy uplink systems engineer on the
Mars Pathfinder team. Her job is to teach the computers on the
ground to speak the same language as those onboard Pathfinder. She
takes complex, but general computer programs and makes them
understand all the commands that the Pathfinder knows. Bridget
works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.]
March 6, 1997
Phew! What a week! We have been so busy we've hardly had time to
breathe! Something of a shock, after some weeks of relative "down
time." We've been gearing up for an Operational Readiness Test
(ORT), which runs today through tomorrow. Think of it as a
rehearsal; we have a computer that simulates the spacecraft, as
well as a model of the lander and a duplicate rover. We put the last
two in our "sandbox" (a room full of sand and rocks that we use to
simulate the surface of Mars), then close the curtains so that no one
can see in, and a few people go in and rearrange the rocks. Then the
operations team has to take pictures with the lander camera,
determine where the rocks are, and generally do all the tasks that
we'll do the first two sols (Martian days) on Mars. This means that
people will be here all through the night, in shifts. As the pictures
come in, they will have to decide where to go and what to do, from
the options prepared in advance.
Most of my work, however, consisted of preparing imaging sequences
to be used during the test. (These are sets of commands to take
pictures of specific targets for specific purposes, or large sets of
images that can then be put together to show all the area around the
lander.) As you can imagine, there are a lot of files to be built, some
that we know will be used, some that might be used and some that
we hope never have to be used. But they all have to be ready and have
to be tested, both to see that they run and to see that they take the
images we intended.
Much of the work is very nit-picky; every detail has to be just right.
It's been exciting, exhausting, frustrating and fun, all at the same
time. Lots of long hours, missed lunches, that sort of thing. (I did
manage to get away for a science fiction convention this weekend,
though!) But the idea that what we're building and testing right now
will be used when we land on Mars in a few months is really
exciting. I try to think of that when the fourth revision in the last
hour for the same sequence comes in! There are very few jobs that
are all glamour and no dirt; the good ones (like mine!) are those
where the glamour/excitement/emotional rewards make up for the
SUBSCRIBING & UNSUBSCRIBING: HOW TO DO IT!
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If you have Web access, please visit our "continuous construction"
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