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UPDATE # 66 - February 21, 1998

PART 1: FEB. 24 LIVE Mars Workshop Offers Lecture, Chat, Tour
PART 2: This Week's Chat Reminder
PART 3: Journal Report: Peter Thomas Picks Mars Targets to Image
PART 4: Newest MTO Participant: Rich Hogan, MGS Operations
PART 5: Order a Custom Mars Team Online T-Shirt!
PART 6: Global Surveyor Update & Useful Web Sites
PART 7: And the Weather Worlds Scavenger Hunt Winners Were...
PART 8: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it


RESERVE THIS TUESDAY, FEB. 24 for a LIVE Mars Teachers' Workshop!
NASA's Learning Technologies Channel is hosting the teachers' workshop
from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., PST (1-4 p.m., EST). It be conducted LIVE from NASA's
Ames Research Center and will consist of a lecture on the latest findings
about Mars, a Web chat with a Mars expert and a walking tour of Ames'
facilities devoted to Mars research. For additional details go to:

To find out more about NASA's Learning Technologies Channel and for a
February schedule of events go to: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/


Be sure you've registered in advance for this week's Web chat with Peter
Thomas on Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 10-11 a.m., PST. Peter is a research
scientist on the Mars Global Surveyor and Surveyor '98 orbiter and lander

From his office at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, Peter studies
images taken by the Global Surveyor camera to see how the wind shapes the
surface of Mars by moving sand and dust and how the polar caps have
affected Mars' geology and climate. He also analyzes the Hubble Space
Telescope images of Mars. Read Peter's biography prior to joining this
chat: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/thomas.html

To register for the chat go to:


Mars Global Surveyor is currently in the aerobraking phase: trimming
its long elliptical orbit down to a small, circular one by passing through
the atmosphere about 75 miles above Mars each orbit. For much of the fall
and winter (on Earth, northern hemisphere!) these orbits were over 24
hours long, now they are about 18 hours. On most orbits the camera has
been able to take a few images near closest approach to Mars.

I spent the second half of January in San Diego, CA at Malin Space Science
Systems where the camera was built and is controlled, helping pick targets
to image day-by-day. The process is this: MGS makes a close pass, slows
down slightly, then the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA tracks
the spacecraft for a few hours, then sends out data to predict where the
next close periapse groundtrack will be (each aerobraking pass is slightly
uncertain in its results, so the exact time of the next pass may be off by
a few seconds, which means predicting more than one orbit ahead gets real
uncertain). With those data, people at Malin Systems then pick targets for
the narrow-angle camera based on global digital maps made with Viking data
taken in the late 1970s.

The MGS data are 10-50 times as good resolution in most cases. The
targeted images have to meet a data budget for transmission back to
Earth and the exposures have to be set; that can be tricky! Then the
commands are checked, sent to the Jet Propulsion Lab and then on to the
spacecraft. About 18 hours later the pictures are in hand! Because the
orbit period is now well less than a day, the time of day of all this work
shifted constantly.


Check out the latest Mars Team biography introducing Rich Hogan from
Lockheed Martin Astronautics in Denver, CO. Rich's candid and very
interesting bio is sure to be a hit with students as they read about
Rich's career journey: "I have been a sandwich maker, a deliverer of
flowers, a preschool teacher, a taxi driver, a data processing manager and
a shareware software author, and to some extent I still am all of these.
But space exploration has always been there. Some of my earliest memories
are of drawing spacecraft, but for most of my life it was "just a
childhood dream." So how did I get to aerospace engineering? It's
something of a long story..."

Read Rich's biography at: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/mars/team/hogen.html


Wear what you do! You can now order a Sharing NASA T-shirt with your
school name printed on the back with the logo from Mars Team Online, or
any of your other favorite Sharing NASA projects.

To find out more about ordering the MTO T-shirts go to:


Due to the interruption in publishing the MTO Updates, the winners of the
1997 Weather Worlds Scavenger Hunt project were never rightfully announced
here. A belated CONGRATULATIONS to:
- Darlene Taylor's MESA class, Dixon Middle School, Provo, UT
- Susan Hurstcalderon's 8th graders, Blessed Sacrament School, Washington,
 Cheryl Labbane and Patti Wood's 4th graders, Southeast Elementary, Jenks,

The answers to the 25 questions are:

Q: What location has the greatest differential in air temperature over a
24-hour period?
A: Sioux Center Middle School

Q: Which location had the greatest total amount of precipitation during
the reporting period?
A: Hydesville School

Q: Which location experienced the greatest change in atmospheric pressure
during the reporting period?
A: Immaculate Conception School

Q: Using average temperatures for the period reported, which location was
the warmest?
A: Willard Middle School

Q: Using average temperatures for the period reported, which location
was the coolest?
A: Morris Area Elementary

Q: What is the most northern school collecting data?
A: Sunridge Middle School

Q: What is the most southern school collecting data?
A: Serrano High School

Q: What is the most eastern school collecting data?
A: Gates Intermediate

Q: What is the most western school collecting data?
A: Hydesville School

Q: What is the highest temperature recorded during this time period for
the most northern A: Sunridge Middle School and southern schools?
A: Serrano High School

Q: The lowest temperature recorded? Northern? A: Sunridge Middle School
Southern? A: Serrano High School

Q: What was the impact of being near the coast if you lived on or near
the 40-degree line of latitude?
A: The temperatures were warmer.

Q: How many schools are found at the 40-degrees N latitude (within + or
-5 degrees)?
A: Twelve, but 13 was also accepted because there were two schools who had
not given their latitude and longitude.  A question was posted to the list
about the one school and the location was given online.

Q: Which location most closely followed a pattern of temperatures
(relatively speaking) found on Mars? [compare the daily pattern of change]
A: Sioux Center Middle School - temperature extremes

Q: Which location experienced the greatest change in atmospheric pressure
during a 24-hour period?
A: Immaculate Conception School

Q: On which day did schools located on the 40 degree of latitude have
the least difference in temperature?
A: 11-11-97

Q: Which location had the most consistent temperature reported?
A: Beers Street Middle School

Q: What physical feature had the greatest impact on the weather of the
locations east of 78 degrees longitude?
A: Atlantic Ocean

Q: What physical feature had the greatest impact on the weather of the
locations west of 117 degrees longitude?
A: Pacific Ocean

Q: What two locations are less than 1 degree from being directly N-S of
each other?
A: Immaculate Conception School and Beers Street Middle School

Q: What is the lowest reported atmospheric pressure?
A: 732 mb by Cranbrook Middle School

Q: What is the highest reported atmospheric pressure?
A: 1913 by Immaculate Conception School

Q: What is the general wind direction for the locations east of 78
degrees longitude?
A: West

Q: What is the general wind direction for the locations west of 117
degrees longitude?
A: South

Q: What is the total precipitation reported for all locations?
A: 47.50 cm

Q: Which location has a 24-hour temperature change equal to a 24-hour
temperature change on Mars? [Name the location and date for Earth and
A: Only one school answered this question with a school and date on Earth
and a particular day on Mars. There was no explanation from any of the
schools, although the question does not ask for an explanation. Cabin
John Middle School 11/18 and Sagan Memorial Station Sol 7 was accepted as
the answer for this question.

Weather Worlds was developed for Live From Mars (the precursor to Mars
Team Online), a Passport to Knowledge project.


[Editor's note: The following section was reprinted from "MarsWatch News,"
February 1998 issue, which was compiled by Dan Joyce
(djoyce@triton.cc.il.us) and Dan Troiani (dtroiani@triton.cc.il.us),
Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers. Email distribution and the
archives of "MarsWatch News" are maintained by Jim Bell
(jimbo@marswatch.tn.cornell.edu), Cornell University.]

Despite the initial difficulty in achieving desired orbit owing to a
weakened solar panel, the Global Surveyor Mission has revealed its
prowess. Spacecraft power constraints may force its camera to temporarily
shut down soon, but the imagery so far has been a major revelation. Valles
Marineris has been found to be stratified to an extent that suggests Mars'
geological distant past was more active than had been previously thought
by several orders of magnitude. There is even a suggestion of the coming
and passing of a sea across the terrain fairly high in the strata.
Layering of the kind seen generally in the images could have formed from
sedimentary deposits or episodes of volcanism. In neither case was Mars
expected to be so active, especially for the amount of time that seems to
have elapsed in their formation and how recently the last deposit seems to
have occurred. The resemblance to the Grand Canyon in Arizona is

Modern computer legerdemain comes into play because distortions introduced
by the camera lens and the awkward aspect of the spacecraft motion can be
"fitted" to exactly describe what would be seen from a specific point in
the orbit using an elaborate averaging technique. One image in particular
is of Nanedi Vallis, a sinuous canyon in Xanthe that appears to have
resulted from a continuous water flow rather than an abrupt single event,
at least that seems to be inferred from apparent downcutting features.
There is also evidence of slumping, so both processes may have acted in
tandem to produce this valley. This image has resolution to a mere 39
feet, and was the fourth taken during the spacecraft's 87th orbit. The
other image highlight is a close-up of Valles Marineris, taken as the
third image during the 80th orbit (on the evening of January 1). It is
here that the sedimentary processes are especially prominent. The detail
is comparable to that of the Nanedi Vallis image.

In summary, yet another revolution in our thinking of the Red Planet must
transpire. Evidently the findings in ALH84001 were just a precursor and
probably no accident. We can safely look forward to images over the coming
months that will tantalize even more - of such resolution as to not fail
to reveal transcending new visions to challenge our already shattered
preconceptions of what Mars is all about. The need to explore further will
be enhanced, not diminished, by the findings of Global Surveyor, an
intrepid if inexpensive  explorer of a planet whose lore spans the
imaginations of generations.

Useful WWW sites:

Latest MGS images:

Main MGS Home Page:

Pathfinder Home Page:

JPL Mars Missions Page

Mars-98 MVACS Science Payload Home Page:

Mars-01 Athena Science Payload

A.L.P.O. Mars observations:

1996-97 Marswatch highlights:

1996-97 Marswatch ftp site:



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