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  • -= Mercurious Chat =- (gilmore Chat Log)Hosted by Dr. Martha S. Gilmore of Wesleyan University

    Brian Dannemiller - Moderator at Space Ed from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    Welcome to the Space Explorers, Inc., chat with Dr. Martha Gilmore about Martian geology and the rover missions.

    Brian Dannemiller - Moderator at Space Ed from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    Room opened by Moderator on 04/08/04 at 12:55.

    Charla Jordan - Teacher at Carlisle Isd from Pricw, Texas asks:
    The Carlisle Middle School students would like to know what projects, if any, you are currently working on for NASA?

    currently I work with colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Lab to develop software to help rovers of the future do geology more efficiently for example...

    Chrissy Paape - SEI Staff at Space Explorers from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    What went into the decision on the selection of the Mars landing sites?

    well the engineers first determined what parts of the planet they could reach and which were safe to land on. Then the scientists selected regions that were the most likely to have evidence of water.

    Audra . - Student at Mondovi Public Schools from Mondovi, Wisconsin asks:
    What is happening with the new planet that they found?

    Sedna, yes. I think they are observing it to understand its orbit and its composition.

    Chrissy Paape - SEI Staff at Space Explorers from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    What do you think has been the greatest achievement from this Mars Exploration Rover Mission so far?

    At the Opportunity site, the identification of the mineral jarosite (which forms in salty seas) and the evidence in the rocks that water once flowed there

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    When will the Mars' rover quit working?

    Well, hopefully the rovers will last a few more months (they were designed to last 3). It depends on how well the battery can recharge and how mush dust accumulates on the solar panels

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    Do you think there is life on Mars?

    I think there could have been life in the past (less likely today). On Earth, life depends on liquid water. Mars had liquid water flowing in its early history so perhaps life formed then.

    Chrissy Paape - SEI Staff at Space Explorers from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    What facinates you the most about Mars and Venus?

    I am interested in rocks and what they tell about the evolution of a planet. I can look at rocks on the Earth and learn how the planet works, but the other planets offer different environments. For example, a volcano erupts on the Earth in a certain way, but on Venus the pressure of the atmopshere is very high so the same volcano will erupt differently an that tells you something about how volcanoes work!

    Chrissy Paape - SEI Staff at Space Explorers from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    What other minerials is NASA most interested in finding on Mars?

    NASA is interested in finding minerals that require water to form. These include carbonate minerals and salts which form in oceans and lakes. Also of interest are minerals associated with the interaction of water and volcanoes, like the seafloor of the earth where there are a variety of hardy life forms

    AMy - Chat Guest at Nezperce from Nezperce, Idaho asks:
    What are the main components of the atmosphere on mars compared to here on earth?

    The atmoshere of Mars is 95% carbon dioxide. This is how the atmopshere of the Earth was at its beginning, it is only because of the advent of photsynthetic life that the atmophere became oxygen-rich. Luckily for us!

    AMy - Chat Guest at Nezperce from Nezperce, Idaho asks:
    Whqat is the crust of venus made up of?

    The crust of Venus is made of lava like what we find in Hawaii. The surface is covered with many volcanoes.

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    Would you go to mars if you could

    Hmmm, I am a bit fearful of travelling to Mars myself especially as it takes 6-8 months to get there. I would go to the Moon, though. Would you go to Mars if you could?

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    what do you think nasa should do for its next project?

    I think that NASA is doing great things by developing several craft to go to Mars. I would like to see another mission to Venus and some to explore the moons around Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    I would go to mars if i could take my friends

    That's a great idea! You could all become astronauts together.

    AMy - Chat Guest at Nezperce from Nezperce, Idaho asks:
    Can you tell us what you know about the new planet?

    I know that it is a very distant object and may be part of the Oort cloud, which is a cloud of ice and dust around the solar system from which comets are derived. It is an ancient relict of the early solar system. Interestingly, it's orbit suggests that it was moved by a star passing nearby and that this star would have shown brightly (like the Moon) in our sky during that time.

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    Why would you want to explore the moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune

    They are each very unique. Io (moon of Jupiter) is covered with active volcanoes, while its neighbor, Europa has a subsurface water ocean. The Cassini spacecraft is on its way to Saturn right now and will drop a probe into the moon Titan which is thought to have seas of tar on it!

    AMy - Chat Guest at Nezperce from Nezperce, Idaho asks:
    Is there any evidence of water on mars under the surface?

    There is evidence of ice at and near the surface of Mars. Recently scientists have found that Mars warms up every 100000 years or so and some of that ice may melt.

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    Do you think there is plant life on any other planet?

    Probably not in our solar system, but maybe in planets around other stars. Telescopes are being built to look for oxygen in the atmospheres of other planets to determine if there are plants there.

    Thermal Engine - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    How long has it been since the last time earths magnetic feild last changed

    I had to look it up, it looks on my chart like it was reversed less than 1 million years ago. We are in a reversal now.

    Thermal Engine - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    Do you think the therory of relitivity will play a part in future space travle?

    Absolutely. The universe is so big, I would think we need to go close to the speed of light to get anywhere!

    AMy - Chat Guest at Nezperce from Nezperce, Idaho asks:
    When will the probe reach Titan?

    January 2005

    AMy - Chat Guest at Nezperce from Nezperce, Idaho asks:
    Do you think we will be able to colonize mars some time in the future? What will it take to get this done?

    I think so. In my opinion, we need to go to the Moon first to work out the many issues of colonization. Also, the space station astronauts are helping us learn about the effects of long-term spaceflight on the body. Also, it is important to understand the hazards on the surface of Mars (radiation, dust) as well as any resources (water). All of this is being worked on by NASA currently.

    AMy - Chat Guest at Nezperce from Nezperce, Idaho asks:
    Are we looking to send rovers to venus, neptune or uranus? If so, when?

    Well, each body presents different challenges. The surface of Venus is very hot, so high temperature rovers would have to be developed. The icy moons of Neptune and Uranus are good candidates for a rover; it just takes years and years to get there. I think the next planets to be visited by rovers will be Mars, the moon and maybe Europa.

    Thermal Engine - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    If life is found on mars will scientists risk interfering with its natural evolution or will they abandon hope of human settelments on mars?

    That is an excellent question and it is breaking new ground. There is currently a Planetary Protection plan in place at NASA to project both the Earth and Mars from cross-contamination. I think if life is found, we would not want to alter it.

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    Would any one go to Mars?

    Because it is a new frontier and we haven't been there before. It will teach us about how we came to be. What do you think?

    Communications - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    Have you ever been in space?

    No, I am not an astronaut, just a geologist stuck on Earth! One has to train to be an astronaut to go into space.

    Electrical Engine - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    What did u get your degree in?

    Geology

    Malinda Burke - Teacher at Pelahatchie Attendance Center from Pelahatchie, Mississippi asks:
    how did you become a scientist

    I always wanted to be a scientist because nature is so interesting and amazing. I took a geology course when I was a teenager and I was hooked.

    Electrical Engine - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    do you like your job?

    Very much. I enjoy thinking about the planets. I get to spend a lot of time outside looking at rocks. And I enjoy teaching students about the solar system!

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    DOES MARS HAVE MOONS ?

    yes, two called Phobos and Deimos. They are asteroids that were captured into orbit by Mars' gravity.

    Communications - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    What technotogical advances do you think we will need to acomplish before we colonize mars?

    Many. Better spacesuits to live on a planet for a long timme. The ability to make fuel and grow food there. A new spacecraft to get there. What do you think?

    Mission Manager - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    Is Olympic Mons still active?

    From what we can tell it was last active in the last 1 million years but is no longer active.

    Trajectory Design - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    when will we be able to collect samples from Mars?

    The plan is to do so in the next 15 years. The technologies for sample handling and return to Earth are being developed. Also facilities need to be built on Earth to receive the samples in a safe environment in case there is life in them.

    Mission Operations - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    If life is found on Mars, what will we do with the beings?

    Well, we will study them just like we do for new species on the Earth. We will try to understand how they life and what they are.

    Mission Manager - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    Do you study Earth's Geology along with other planets?

    Yes, I do. I work in the deserts of California to look at rocks that are similar to Mars. I also look at marshe in Connecticut using satellite images to see how healthy they are.

    Mission Operations - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    Are we ever going to explore any one of Mars' moons?

    Perhaps. I know of one mission plan that wants to shoot one the Moons to form a crater and then look at the insides - cool!

    Malinda Burke - Teacher at Pelahatchie Attendance Center from Pelahatchie, Mississippi asks:
    do you think we will be able to grow plants on mars like we do on earth?

    I think so - the Mars daya is almost the same length as an Earth day, so I would think the plants could be grown in an warm greenhouse. Plants would actually prefer the Mars atmosphere because it is almost all carbon dioxide!

    Malinda Burke - Teacher at Pelahatchie Attendance Center from Pelahatchie, Mississippi asks:
    Were you a good science and math student in the 6th grade?

    :-) Yes I was. It is very important to do well in science and math courses even if you do not become a scientist. It comes in handy in many situations in life!

    Mission Operations - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    Do you think we will explore any of the gas giants?

    I think so. NASA is considering a probe mission to Jupiter and other spacecraft to explore the rings of the gas giants.

    Thermal Engine - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    what do you like most about your job?

    lookinng at images of the surfaces of other planets. You can do this too online!

    Attitude Control - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    Is Mars' core like the earths, as far as we know?

    Yes as far as we know. We have not sent a seismometer there yet. That would tell us definitely.

    Thermal Engine - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    What angle is mars axis tilted at in ccomparison to earths?

    Almost exactly the same about 23 degrees

    Deep Space Network - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    If you could travel to any planet in any known solor system. Where would you visit?

    If travel time were not an issue, I would go to Mars. The moon would be nice too. And Europa. Where would you go?

    Mission Manager - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    When is the next magnetic reversal and what would it be like?

    It is happening now. The strength of the magntetic field is weaking as it is preparing to go to zero and then become oriented to the south. People are discussing how fast this is occurring - you could find soem resources on the web. I am not sure what it will be like, except that more solar and cosmic rays will reach the earth's atmophere so there will be auroras every night all over!

    Public Affairs - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    how can we live on Mars if the atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide?

    We will have to have some good space suits and a good habitat full of oxygen. We wil probably have to figure out how to make oxygen there so we won't have to bring it from Earth

    Student - Student at Broad Creek Middle School from Newport, North Carolina asks:
    Do you think there will be colonization on any other planets other than Mars?

    The moon I think will be the first colony. Perhaps others if rockets are developed that are speedy.

    Software Engine - Student at Ranchview Middle School from Highlands Ranch, Colorado asks:
    If humans did live on Mars, how would we judge time?

    Well the day is almost the same 24 hours and 37 minutes so that would be familiar. The year is almost twice as long though.

    Brian Dannemiller - Moderator at Space Ed from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    The chat room will be closing in a few minutes. Thank you for joining us. And we would especially like to thank Dr. Martha Gilmore for being our guest today. Be sure to look for more chats coming this fall. Also, all of Space Explorers, Inc. archived chats are saved at .

    Malinda Burke - Teacher at Pelahatchie Attendance Center from Pelahatchie, Mississippi asks:
    What is the temperature on Mars?

    the average temperature at the equator is 58 degrees below zero C. It can get as warm as about 0 C

    Malinda Burke - Teacher at Pelahatchie Attendance Center from Pelahatchie, Mississippi asks:
    Bye bye

    bye thanks for all of the excellent questions!

    Brian Dannemiller - Moderator at Space Ed from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    4/8/2004 1:59:51 PM - Room closed by Moderator. Thank you for your participation.

     
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