PART 1: FEB. 24 LIVE Mars Workshop Offers
Lecture, Chat, Tour
FEBRUARY 24 LIVE MARS WORKSHOP OFFERS LECTURE, CHAT, TOUR
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: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/ltc/mars/workshop1/index.html 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/
THIS WEEK'S CHAT REMINDER
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 teams. 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: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/chat/prj_lfm/pthomaschat/
JOURNAL REPORT: PETER THOMAS PICKS MARS TARGETS TO IMAGE
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.
NEW MTO PARTICIPANT: RICH HOGAN, MGS OPERATIONS
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
ORDER A CUSTOM MARS TEAM ONLINE T-SHIRT!
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: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/shirts/mars.html
AND THE WEATHER WORLDS SCAVENGER HUNT WINNERS WERE...
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, DC Cheryl Labbane and Patti Wood's 4th graders, Southeast Elementary, Jenks, OK 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 Mars.] 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.
GLOBAL SURVEYOR UPDATE & USEFUL WEB SITES
[Editor's note: The following section was reprinted from "MarsWatch News," February 1998 issue, which was compiled by Dan Joyce (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dan Troiani (email@example.com), Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers. Email distribution and the archives of "MarsWatch News" are maintained by Jim Bell (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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 remarkable. 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: http://www.msss.com/mars/global_surveyor/camera/images/index.html Main MGS Home Page: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/index.html Pathfinder Home Page: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/default.html JPL Mars Missions Page http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/mars Mars-98 MVACS Science Payload Home Page: http://mvacs.ess.ucla.edu/index.html Mars-01 Athena Science Payload http://astrosun.tn.cornell.edu/athena/index.html A.L.P.O. Mars observations: http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~rhill/alpo/mars.html 1996-97 Marswatch highlights: http://mpfwww.jpl.nasa.gov/mpf/marswatch.html 1996-97 Marswatch ftp site: ftp://marsnt3.jpl.nasa.gov MarsNet: http://astrosun.tn.cornell.edu/marsnet/mnhome.html
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