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  • -= Mercurious Chat =- (yingst10 Chat Log)During this online chat, 39 questions were asked by 4 schools. There were 7 adults and 6 students involved in this chat.

    Hosted by Dr. R. Aileen Yingst of WI Space Grant Consortium

    Chrissy Paape - Moderator at Space Explorers from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    Space Explorers would like to welcome Dr. R. Aileen Yingst as our chat host today. All of your questions will be viewed by a moderator. We will try to get through as many questions as possible during the chat period. Ask away!

    Jonathan - Chat Guest at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    What are the chances that the private space industry will find sufficient enough mineral wealth in nieghboring celistial bodies that they will find profit in exsploiting it, and how soon would you exspect the private space industry to have the capabilty to do this?

    The chances depend greatly on what we find when we actually get up close and personal to an asteroid or other similar body. There are those that would say the Moon has those resources now.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    Why is the water at the beach different on each coast? matt dees

    Hm. Different in what way? They are certainly different in temperature, in part because if you go just off the coast of California, the ocean gets very deep very fast, while it's much more shallow for a distance off the East Coast - especially Florida.

    Chrissy Paape - Moderator at Space Explorers from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    Room opened by Moderator on 03/16/10 at 10:50.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    How did you choose your profession?

    My profession chose me. I don't remember a time I didn't want to be a space scientist. It was a calling.

    Mike - Chat Guest at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    I am very interested in space exploration and programing and I was wondering, How long did you have to study to become a Planetory Geologist?

    I took four years to go through college, and then another five to get my PhD. I was a Postdoc for two years after that. Those interested in becoming planetary geologists should take whatever math and science courses are available to them in grade school and high school. Geology is an appropriate major in college, though I actually majored in Physics, which also was very good.

    Zach - Chat Guest at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    What makes you so passionate about space?

    The stretch of the human imagination and the breadth of our curiosity makes space the only thing big enough to satisfy us.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    Dr. Yingst, thank you for being available to my geology students in Wasilla, Alaska. Based on your super experience, do you tend towards there being life elsewhere in the universe or that we are alone. Cheers, Roger R. Saft, Ph.D.

    I'm no biologist, but the sheer size of the universe, combined with the sheer number of planets out there, even in our own galaxy, makes me doubt that we're unique.

    Calvin - Chat Guest at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    What measures have been taken, and are being put into use to protect us from another astroid, like the size of one that killed the dinosaurs.

    There are no global measures that I'm aware of. The US Congress has appropriated a million or so dollars, I believe, to continue a search for near-Earth asteroids. But actually protecting us from such a threat, rather than being able to see that threat coming - that's a very complex question that depends on the size and composition of the impactor, it's distance and path when discovered, and a whole bunch of other variables. We've only barely begun to address these in the science community.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    Do you think the Mars rover that is stuck will ever get unstuck?- Amber Curry

    That's an excellent question. Spirit is the rover that's stuck, and right now, we won't know if we can get her out until the martian winter ends. Spirit doesn't have enough power to keep taking measurements through the winter - she's going to have to hibernate for the next 4 or so months. After that, we'll try to drive her out. The good news is that, before winter set in, she was making a bit of progress in driving her way out. Some folks aren't terribly optimistic, but I am.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    You know how the mars rover that has Dust on the solar panels is stuck, well are the next generation of rovers going to be Equiped with solar panel wipers? Mike Tereschenko

    Great idea! The problem with Spirit and Opportunity (see the mockup in the testbed in my picture) is that we never expected them to survive this long! We planned for 90 martian days; we hoped for a half a year. So we never planned on having to clean off the solar panels. Six years later, we're wishing we had some options! The good news is Curiosity, the next rover, is nuclear-powered.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    Did you ever want to explore space, or stay on Earth as a scientist? - Calvin

    I wanted to be an astronaut, yes. I didn't give up on that until I had children and at that point felt it was too risky a job to pursue. But yes, I desperately want to go into space - as a scientist.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    do you have any plans to send another rover to mars

    The next rover is set to launch around October of 2011. It's about the size of a small car!

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    How many dust storms can be on mars at once?

    I don't know that there's a limit. You can have dozens if not hundreds of thunderstorms on Earth at once - the same is true for martian dust storms. Sometimes you can have a nearly global dust storm, as well.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    What are you currently studying or what are you extremely interested in right now? -Zach

    I'm interested in a bunch of things. I'm interested in what the shape of rocks can tell us about what happened to it; I'm interested in the volcanic history of the Moon, and why all the volcanic activity concentrated on the side facing us; and I'm also very interested in how we're going to do science with rovers for the next 20 years.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    When was Sirius discovered? And by who?

    Sirius is so bright, that it probably wasn't discovered, in the sense that, say, Pluto was discovered. Humans have probably always known and followed that star.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    what planet are you most interested in and why?

    Ooo, that's tough. I like them all for different reasons. I like the Moon, actually, not just for scientific, but for sentimental reasons - she's been a good friend of mine for years. I also like Mars, because it manages to be so similar to Earth, geologically, and yet so different. But I have a soft spot for places like Vesta, for example, and Titan, too.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    Are any astronauts going to go to any other planets besides Mars?

    Probably not anytime soon. We're having a hard enough time just getting back to the Moon - and the Moon is relatively easy because its so close! But there are lots of scientists and engineers interested in sending humans to land on an asteroid. That would be tough - but what a ride it would be! Can you imagine trying to walk on an object that has so little gravity that one good leap would send you into orbit? Yikes!

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    I heard an astroid was found and the water on it had a different molecular struture, how could that be? - Calvin

    I'm not familiar with the study, but water can rearrange itself in the same way other molecules can. And remember that hydrogen and oxygen can have different structures, too.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    Are there any plans for a manned mission to mars or any other planet in the works for the future? - Mike t

    Well, no one is really sure what the US has planned, because the Congress and the President currently disagree on what NASA's goals (short-term and long-term) should be. I think the ultimate goal is for humans to land on Mars, but when that might happen is totally up in the air right now.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    When was Mars discovered?

    Mars is another one of those objects that is visible with the unaided eye, so Mars has been know for as long as people have been around. For fun, you might consider going to wikipedia and seeing all the names for Mars in all the different languages - every culture has one.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    Why is Triton one of the coolest objects in space?

    Triton probably has volcanoes that spew out water - I think that's pretty cool.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    When do you think spirit and opportunity will die out?

    I think it's bad luck to talk about someone dying, and Spirit and Opportunity are like friends to me now! I don't know how long they will live, but I hope it's a lot longer.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    do you believe that mars may have had life on it. - wyler

    I really don't know. As a scientist, you look at the evidence, and what we know is that Mars might have been amenable to life in the past. We also know from Earth that life, once it takes hold, is pretty tenacious! But we don't have a handle on how that process happened on Earth, so trying to guess if it happened on Mars is tough. If it *did* and if we find such evidence, that will tell us a lot more about *terrestrial* life than we know now.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    What living objects has the rovers found on Mars?

    None. Neither rover has found any life on Mars.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    why not send rovers to other plants to study them? Tyler Savok

    Why not? I think its a great idea! But rovers are expensive to design, build and launch, so there has to be a lot of public support for something like that to happen.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    Why can't moons have moons of their own?

    In fact, moons *can* have moons of their own! Even asteroids can have them - the asteroid Ida has a tiny moon of its own named Dactyl. All you need is for a larger body to capture a smaller one in its gravitational field.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    Why doesn't Saturn's ring just float away?

    Saturn is a really big planet, and the bigger something is, the more gravitational pull it has. Saturn's rings stay in orbit because of that gravitational pull, the same way satellites stay in orbit around Earth.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    How many galaxies have you studied?

    Hm. I haven't really studied galaxies since I was in college. Back then I did a lot of astronomy work (which is very different than what I do now). I assisted back then in a study that mapped galaxies, so I probably mapped dozens if not hundreds of them.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    Have you ever experienced zero gravity? - Brandon

    No, and I'm terribly disappointed about it! I hope to get into space someday, or even fly on a microgravity flight.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    How were Jupiter's rings discovered since we can't see them?

    Well, we can't see them from here with our unaided eye. But when the Voyager spacecraft flew past Jupiter, they could see them.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    What simmilarities/Differences are there between astronomy and Planetary Geology ?Is Planetary Geology tied in with astro biology? -Mike T

    Astronomy focuses on studying the stars; planetary geology is a subdiscipline of geology, which studies rocks, atmospheres and other systems that make up a planet. So a meteorologist, for example, is technically in a field of geology. It's basically a new branch of geology made possible by spacecraft and human exploration of other planets. Astrobiology is a subdiscipline of biology, and concerns itself with the possibility of life arising on planets other than Earth.

    Lee Blank - Teacher at Wisconsin Internaltional Schoo from De Pere, Wisconsin asks:
    Dr. Yingst-Thank You for answering my students questions! It's greatly appreciated and the answers have helped the students with their curiosities! Thanks Again!

    I'm very pleased to do it!

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    Do you think Earth will have more than one moon in the future? - Brandon

    Hm - I kinda hope not, because that would mean some major astronomical event, like a near-Earth asteroid being captured or something. Who knows what sort of havoc that would wreak on us?

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    If you could name the next rover, what would you name it? And why?- Calvin

    Well, the next rover is named Curiosity, which is nice enough. But I guess if I could pick, I'd go with an actual name, rather than a concept. It's hard to get really attached to a concept, but naming a rover something like "Bob" makes it a little more personal, I think. I'd pick --- boy, I'm not sure! Give me a second to ponder that one.

    Roger Saft - Teacher at Wasilla High School from Wasilla, Alaska asks:
    Dr. Yingst, thank you for taking time and energy out of you busy life and career to answer questions from my Wasilla High School, Wasilla Alaska geology class. You have shown them that they can make a difference and that their voices can be heard. Cheers, Roger

    Thanks for letting me be a part of your class today. I'll give some thought to what I'd name the next rover, I promise.

    Chrissy Paape - Moderator at Space Explorers from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    The chat room will be closing shortly. At this time, we would like to thank everyone for joining us for this special event. We would especially like to thank Dr. R. Aileen Yingst for hosting our chat today.

    Chrissy Paape - Moderator at Space Explorers from De Pere, Wisconsin comments:
    3/16/2010 11:42:19 AM - Room closed by Moderator. Thank you for your participation.

     
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