UPDATE # 4 - October 9, 1996
PART 1: Teacher's Guide is here
PART 2: Live chats with NASA folk; a NetDay96
PART 3: Connecting with other teachers
PART 4: News about the spacecraft
TEACHER'S GUIDE IS HERE
Hooray for the hardworking PTK Teacher's Guide team.
After weeks of non-stop work (literally!), the Teacher's Guide is
completed and at the printer. If you've ordered a physical copy
expect it soon. The shipping date is Saturday, October 12.
For those who can't wait, or who prefer their Teacher's Guides free
and online, wander to http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/teachers/tg
Over the next days and weeks, you'll see this area fill in with the
complete guide. By the end of the month, there will be an Adobe
Acrobat version of the document available online; this version will
preserve ALL of the formatting from the original.
As my grandfather Sol says: "ENJOY!"
LIVE CHATS WITH NASA FOLK; A NETDAY96 CELEBRATION
In many places, this coming Saturday (October 12) is a time for
volunteers to materialize at schools around the United States and
install network cabling. This wonderful ritual is called NetDay. In
support of the activity, NASA is organizing a full day of content to
go with all of the connectivity. The idea is to help the NetDay folks
get a glimpse of how schools bust down walls to connect with
Called "NetDay & Beyond", it features three separate tracks:
1) chats with network experts to help resolve connectivity issues
2) a stream of K-12 Internet videos, including a PTK summary tape
3) chats with experts, discussing neato, space and environmental topics
From 11 AM - noon (Pacific), the focus will be on Live From Mars. We'll
have a few bright-eyed NASA folks sharing their insights about the
planet and our upcoming missions there. A few lively PTK teachers
would sure help show the nation and world why networks are so
vital for schools. Please consider joining us.
To learn more, visit the "NetDay & Beyond" pages at
or go straight to the chat rooms at:
CONNECTING WITH OTHER TEACHERS
A big part of Live From Mars is the connections that form between
people. Not only connections between students and NASA experts, but
bonds between teachers and with LFM staff. If you are not a part of
these conversations, you may be missing something of great value.
Not only can other teachers help you figure out things, they can be a
sounding board for your brainstorms. As well, the LFM team is easily
influenced. Your ideas may sway the entire direction of the project
(as past history demonstrates).
There are two different ways to participate: chats and discuss-lfm
Every week, two hourly chats are regularly scheduled. Each Thursday
at either noon or 3:00 PM Pacific (schedule alternates), folks gather in
the chatroom for an hour. Also, each Wednesday at 11:00 AM Pacific, a
special homeschool forum is hosted by master homeschooler Gayle
Remisch, from London, Ontario, Canada. For more info, see the WebChat
section of http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/events/interact.html
In addition, discuss-lfm offers teachers an opportunity to send more
composed messages. Last month, LFM people contributed over 175
gems in the vigorous discussion. Many people channel this
information direct to their mailboxes. If 175 messages is too many
for you (it is for me), an option exists for a digest. The digest sends
just one daily message with all of the day's traffic gathered
together. To participate, send an email message to:
In the message body, choose one of the lines below to send
If you prefer, you may also take part in the discuss-lfm group via
the Web. In that case, point your browser to:
NEWS ABOUT THE SPACECRAFT
As of today (October 9), the Mars Global Surveyor is 28 days from its
first try at launching, while the Mars Pathfinder is 55 days away.
The key thing to understand at this stage is that all of the project
folks are going batty trying to do all of the things that need doing.
So it is very difficult to obtain up-to-date information. In this news
vacuum, we'll share some reports about the various tests that have
been happening over the past months.
Anthony Spear, Mars Pathfinder Projet Manager
Over the summer, The Flight Operations Team wrapped up the final
phases of development of their operating system used to monitor and
control the flight system in cruise to Mars, Entry/Descent/Landing
and for surface operations. They have participated in tests,
controlling the flight system test sequence with their operations
sequences planned for flight use. Also they have received and
analyzed telemetry data on their work stations including rover data
and lander and rover camera imaging. These are rather realistic
"dress rehearsals" for the real thing when they take over right after
Mars Global Surveyor Status
Glenn E. Cunningham, MGS Project Manager
The Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft completed its solar thermal
vacuum testing which is a major milestone in preparing the
spacecraft for launch. In this two-week-long test, the spacecraft
was placed in a large vacuum chamber that represents the
environment that the spacecraft encounters in deep space. The
chamber has a simulated solar source, targets that represent Mars,
and very cold walls that represent the cold of deep space. During
this test, all the thermal environments that the spacecraft
experiences during its mission are tested, and compared to the
thermal design requirements and thermal models. The MGS came
through this test better than any spacecraft I can remember.
Then the final preparations were made to ship the spacecraft from
its assembly location at Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver,
Colorado, to its launch site. The spacecraft was flown to Cape
Canaveral, Florida, in a C-17 aircraft in mid-August. At the "Cape",
the spacecraft was tested to assure that it survived shipment
[The items in this list were planned in August. I suspect that many
items here are already completed]
Also, a final checkout with the Deep Space Tracking network will be
made, the propellants will be loaded, and the final weight and center
of gravity will be determined. Then, it will be attached to the third
stage of the launch vehicle and both will be transported to the
launch pad to be mated with the first and second stages of the Delta
II that will already be there waiting.
In the mean time, everything is being made ready to control the
spacecraft after its November launch. All of the software that will
be used process and display spacecraft telemetry data, send
commands to the spacecraft, navigate the spacecraft, and analyze
the spacecraft's performance was delivered in its launch ready form
on the first of July. The small teams of engineers and scientists
that will provide the mission controlling functions have begun the
process of training to use the procedures that will be employed
The various stages of the launch vehicle are already at the "Cape"
undergoing their readiness testing.
We are have been involved in a series of checkpoints or reviews to
assure the project managers that everything is ready for launch.
These reviews include the remote (from JPL) science centers where
the payload instruments will be controlled, the readiness to ship the
spacecraft, the readiness of the launch site to receive the
spacecraft, and the readiness of all aspects of the flight operations
system. Several reviews after the spacecraft is at the launch site
will assure that the launch vehicle is ready to receive the
spacecraft, and finally, in early November, that all systems are go
Everyone on Mars Global Surveyor is very pleased with the way the
spacecraft testing has progressed with out significant problems,
and with how well the flight operations and ground data system
preparations have been completed on schedule.
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