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Women Working on Mars Webcast
May 16, 2002


[ Lori/QuestChatHost - ]
This chat room was created to accept your questions for the May 16 webcast, Women Working on Mars. This archive contains the answers to questions that we were not able to get to during the webcast. To view the archive of the webcast or to learn more about this event, see: <http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/projects/space/marsrover/index.html>.

[ Answer - ]
RE: How did you know that you wanted to be an engineer working for NASA?
I knew that I wanted to work as an engineer for NASA because I wanted to work on projects that are unique. I love the fact that the type of projects NASA works on are not done anywhere else, and that the fundamentally purpose is to learn and explore our world and our universe.

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RE: lori/heyworth- how much college experience do you need to complete the land rover?
We need all levels of college experience. At a minimum, an undergraduate degree is needed. Some people decide they would like to continue their education with a Master's Degree or even a PhD, and these more specific skills are certainly valuable, but not necessary for everyone working on the mission.

[ Answer - ]
lori/heyworth- what type of college did you have to go to?
For my undergraduate work I attended a four-year university namely the University of California, San Diego, and for graduate school I went to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

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How old were you when you first became interested?
I think I've been interested in the space program since I was born! I really don't remember a time that I wasn't interested in space.

[ Answer - ]
RE: how many years of school do you have to endure to become a Thermal Systems Engineer in the Thermal and Propulsion Engineering Section at Jet Propulsion Lab?
Technically you could become a thermal engineer after receiving a Bachelors of Science (B.S.) degree in mechanical engineering (or perhaps another engineering discipline) and that usually takes about 4-5 years. However many thermal engineers have advanced degrees (Masters and Ph.Ds) which can take anywhere from 1-7 years.

Personally, I endured 5 years at the University of California, San Diego and received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Next, I endured another 2 years at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University after which time I completed my thesis and received a Masters in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis on the thermal sciences.

[ Answer - ]
RE: Brooke/CT/14 This questoion is to Shonte White. What is it like to be a black women in engineering?
I really donÕt think about my ethnicity or color as I go about my daily tasks. I feel confident in the education that I have behind me as well as my ability to learn new things quickly. I do not ever feel inferior or incompetent because of my race and/or ethnicity. The number of black women in engineering is not large when compared with men and women of other ethnicities, however I donÕt allow this reality to dissuade me from pursuing my career goals.

[ Answer - ]
RE: Lisa/4th/Mrs.Peterson What is your favorite thing about making a rover.
I have so many favorite things, however I would have to say that working with other engineers to solve complex problems, and seeing something I have designed and bought installed on the spacecraft are really high on the list.

[ Answer - ]
RE: How do the engineers decide what to test? ?
We usually start with the requirements that the spacecraft must meet. When the mission first begins, requirements are placed on the spacecraft that specify what functions it must be able to perform. The requirements are first very general, and then are broken down into more detail so they can apply to the various parts of the spacecraft. Once the spacecraft has been designed to meet these requirements, we start to test it to make sure it really can do what it is supposed to do. In testing, we test the more detailed requirements of each part first, and then put the parts together gradually and test that combination to see that it meets higher-level requirements. This process of building up and testing more and more parts together continues until the entire spacecraft is built.

[ Answer -]
RE: [unknown] Why is it important to send a rover instead of just a lander?
The main differences between landers and rovers are range and versatility. Landers, once on the ground, are stationary. They cannot move to more interesting areas, and can only collect data wherever the instruments can reach. Rovers are much more versatile. Once they land, the Mars Exploration Rovers will be able to travel 330 feet per Martian day. They have two sets of cameras, one to see in visible light, the other in infer red (heat.) When scientists see an area of interest, they can tell the rover to go there and collect data.

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RE: Christina/Heyworth What does MER mean?
MER stands for Mars Exploration Rover, this is the current name given to the twin rovers that are to be sent to Mars in 2003.

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RE: [unknown] Have you wanted to do this ever since you were a kid?
No. My best classes all through school were English and History. I loved biology also, but hated math classes. I loved creative writing too. My family encouraged/pushed me to continue to taking all the math and science classes I could. Also, there are a lot of doctors in my family , and I thought I would continue the family tradition, just because that was what I knew about. I didnÕt even know that I could have a career in science other than medicine! And certainly not space science or planetary geology!

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RE: [unknown] How long will the rovers stay on Mars for?
The Mars Exploration Rovers will operate on the surface of Mars for at least 90 Martian days. When the mission ends they will stay on the planet.

[ Answer - ]
RE:Josh \ Heyworth After the the robots have done there jobs, do they send information back by satellite? Also, after they have completed there mission, are they sent back or do they have a permanant home on Mars.
The Mars Exploration Rovers will operate on the surface of Mars for at least 90 Martian days. When the mission ends they will stay on the planet.

[ Answer - ]
RE: hi my name is Germa from Cambridge Square and I would like to know have you discoverd any creatures on Mars.
As of now, no living organisms have been found anywhere besides on Earth. However, Mars and Jupiter's Moon Europa are potential hosts. We believe they both have water and a source of energy. Anytime we find those two together on Earth we find life.

[ Answer -]
RE: [unknown] What got you interested in this? What inspired you? What schools did you go to?
I always liked to read science fiction and fantasy books, but I never thought I would become a scientist. I went to Palo Alto High School in Palo Alto California, and while I was there, I was given the opportunity to try out some "new" technologyÑlinking a computer with a video player. See, this was way before DVD players and mpeg video and all the stuff we take for granted these days! So we were working on this new technology for Apple computer, and they wanted to show how easy it wasÑthat even a high school student could do it. WelI, while I was working on that project, I met a scientist who studied possible life on other planets. He was particularly interested in Mars, and I interviewed him for the project with Apple Computer. I thought that what he did was the neatest thing IÕd ever heard ofÑI had no idea someone could have a job doing what he did!
But I went off to college at the University of Pennsylvania, and I thought I would be a medical doctor at that point. I worked a summer with that same Mars scientist that IÕd met in high school, and took some geology classes in college "for fun". By the time I graduated college, though, I was a Geology major and knew that I wanted to go into Planetary Science like the Mars scientist IÕd worked with. Then I went to graduate school at University of California , Los Angeles, and got a PhD in Planetary Geology.

[ Answer - 395 ]
RE: Zoe/CT/Grade 9 About when whill the Rover arrive on Mars? When do you think it will be finished?
The rovers will be sent to Mars on separate launch vehicles on June 3 and June 27. They will arrive at Mars on January 4 and February 25.

[ Answer - ]
RE: Annie/CT Is the Rover the only space craft other than the Pathfinder to be sent to Mars? Thanks
The MER's will be the fourth and fifth robots to reach the surface of Mars. In 1976 Viking I and Viking II orbited Mars and sent landers to the surface. In 1997 Pathfinder rolled around Mars and collected information about near by rocks. All other missions to Mars have been satellites. Mariners 4, 6, and 7 collected data while they flew past Mars. Mariner 9 was the first robot to orbit Mars. Mars Global Surveyor is still collecting data while in orbit around Mars.

[ Answer - ]
RE:lori/heyworth- how many instruments are on mer?
There are six instruments on the Mars Exploration Rovers:

(1) The Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) - will grind away the weathered surface of rocks in order to expose the fresh interior for analysis.

(2) Panoramic Camera - the rover's eyes will be used to look at the landscape, providing scientists with images of the surface. This will help them decide where the rover should go, which path it should take, and identify visual evidence of liquid water.

(3) Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer - this set of cameras can see infer red light (heat.) It will be used to identify types and amounts of minerals, especially minerals formed by interaction with water.

(4) Mossbauer Spectrometer - will be used to identify minerals that contain iron, which will help scientist determine the amount of weathering experienced by a given rock.

(5) Alpha Photon X-ray Spectrometer - measures concentrations of major elements, helping to determine the formation and alteration of rocks and soils.

(6) The Microscopic Imager - is a miniature microscope, which will be used to look at small features of rocks and soils.

[ Answer - ]
RE: Owen , 5th grade, Apple Valley, AAE What is the atmosphere on Mars made of?
The majority of the Martian atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide (CO2) 95.3%; the rest is a mix of gases 2.7% is nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and only .13% oxygen.

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RE: [unknown] On Mars, There's no water, how can the cold and heat effect the Rover if it's not freezing or creatng any type of percipitation, how does the Rover get affected by the extreme temperatures?
Shrinking in the cold of night, and expansion in the heat of the day can cause connections to loosen or separate. If this were to happen parts of the spacecraft may not be able to function.

[ Answer - ]
RE: lori/heyworth- if you could go up to mars with the rover's, would you go?
Absolutely. I have spent most of my adult life exploring the Earth and learning about Mars. Traveling to Mars would be the most amazing experience I could ever imagine. However, sending humans to Mars is not yet an option, and that is why we send robots to explore. Perhaps some day, with the information collected by these robots, humans will be able to go. Would you?

[ Answer - ]
RE: lori/heyworth- what is an astronomical unit?
An astronomical unit or AU is the average distance between the Earth and Sun. The Earth orbits the Sun in an ellipse (oval), at times during the year the Earth is closer than others. If we average these distances we find the distance is about 93,000,000 miles, which is equal to 1 AU.

[ Answer - ]
RE: [unknown] Brett/Heyworth - How fast does the Rover travel?
The Mars Exploration Rovers will be able to travel 330 feet per Martian day. The mission will last at least 90 Martian days.

[ Answer - ]
RE: Brooke/ CT why out of all planets have you chose to study mars
Of all the planets Mars has the greatest number of positive attributes to promote its exploration.

(1) It is very close - at 78,300,000 km it is our second closest planet (Venus is closer 41,400,000 km)

(2) It has a surface we can see and stand on - like the Earth; Mars has a solid surface (crust) that is made of rock and dust. We are able to observe its current condition with visual images and science instruments collected by satellites and rovers. Through this information we can piece together the Martian make-up and history.

(3) Mars has water ice and vapor - we have found water ice at the poles of Mars, and water vapor in its atmosphere, but water cannot exist in liquid form on the surface. It is possible that the temperature and pressure at the surface were different in the past, if so perhaps water did flow there. The presents of liquid water is significant because, anyplace on Earth we find water and a source of energy we find life.

[ Answer - ]
RE: [unknown] Do you ever get bored working on this project?
No! I havenÕt gotten bored so far. There are some days that arenÕt the most exciting, but over all, I love the idea of putting spacecraft on Mars and that keeps me going even when things are tough. Mostly though, I look forward to going to work each day. I love working with the different teams to try to get the most science out of the mission. I enjoy negotiating with different people and keeping track of all the science decisions that are made for software choices and so forth.

[ Answer - ]
RE: [unknown] To the student: has the program helped you in deciding what you want to do with your future?
The program actually played a very big role in what it is that I want to do in the future. This is another field that I have been able to explore.

[ Answer - ]
RE: [unknown] How long is the rover staying in Mars? how much area will it be able to cover?
The Mars Exploration Rovers will be able to travel 330 feet per Martian day. The mission will last at least 90 Martian days.

[ Answer - ]
RE: [unknown] Deisy, what have you learned from the program that might have made a difference in your life or the way you think about things?
Well, the difference that the program made was actually showing me what I CAN do if I choose to go on with it for the rest of my life.

[ unknown - ]
I really enjoyed the movie"Women Working on Mars"

[ unknown - ]
This was really some useful information you gave to me today I really did not knowthis much about Mars until I saw this movie today so again thankyou. When will another movie on Mars come out? I really want to know.

Glenda/Heyoworth Thanks for taking time to give us a little information on the rover. It is greatly appreciated. Thanks again!

[ Linda/NASAQuest - ]
RE: [unknown] Nazifa/India/Can this web cast expand for some more time,i mean not today some other time,its really very good experience something worth in joining this web cast.
Hi Nazifa, We're hoping to have more of these types of webcasts. Keep an eye on our calendar of events for more information http://quest.nasa.gov/calendar

Naifa/India/Thanks a lot for todays useful information for the rovers and other things.Its really a very nice and informative web cast.

[ Lori/QuestChatHost -]
Thanks for joining us today!! I hope you had as good a time as I did :-) See you next time . . .

[ unknown ]
Thanks for answering all of our questions!!!!!

Mokia/Heyworth/ I don't have a ? but i just wanted to say thankyou for your time in answering our ?'s and explaining to us some of the things about NASA! thanks a bunch for your time

[ unknown ]
this isnt really a question, i just wanted to tell u that i think that u guys r amazing and uve all really changed my life. i feel very moved. now, more than ever, all i wanna do is become a scientist or whatever u guys r :-D luv always!



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