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May 15, 2002

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000

jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov



RELEASE 02-61AR

MARS ‘WEBCASTS’ WITH WOMEN RESEARCHERS TO TAKE PLACE MAY 16

Some of the women researchers who are involved with 2003 Mars rover missions will take part in a one-hour, live Internet ‘Webcast’ on May 16 beginning at 2 p.m. PDT (5 p.m. EDT). Webcasts enable viewers to watch live video, listen to audio and interact in real time on the Internet with experts.

Scientists, engineers, artists, Web designers and many other women who help make Mars exploration possible will take part in the program. In 2003, NASA will launch twin Mars rovers to explore the red planet. Once on the surface, the rovers will be able to travel significant distances and use several instruments to help scientists determine the climate and water history in Mars' present and past.

"I am currently working on the Mars rovers mission that will launch in 2003. I work on the avionics, which are the electronics or 'brains' of the spacecraft," said Jennifer Mindock, one of the Webcast participants from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. "I have two roles on the avionics team. I am the avionics validation and verification lead, which means I keep track of all the things that need to be tested on the electronics. I also am a test analyst, so I am one of the people actually conducting those tests in our lab to make sure the spacecraft functions correctly."

"This webcast ties in nicely with this year's Space Day theme: 'Adventure to Mars!' as we introduce students to women who are working on the Mars rovers mission scheduled for launch in 2003," said Linda Conrad of the NASA Quest program at NASA Ames Research Center in the heart of California's Silicon Valley. "Remembering the excitement the Mars Pathfinder Mission, we are delighted to give students the opportunity to pose their questions live to scientists, engineers and designers who know first hand what goes into designing a powerful rover that can explore Mars while responding to commands received from Earth."

Members of the public who wish to monitor the program can access the event through the Internet at:

http://quest.nasa.gov/projects/space/marsrover/index.html

"My job on the mission is to worry about how the engineering (stuff being built) and science (what we want to learn about Mars) fit together," said Diana Blaney, another one of the Webcast participants and a scientist at JPL. "One of the instruments on the rover is Mini-TES. I basically check to make sure that no one accidentally does anything that will hurt the science that Mini-TES will do when it gets to Mars. Once the instrument is on Mars, I'll get to help take data and then actually get to analyze the data and figure out what it means."

"I am trying to make sure that the way we are going to operate the rovers on Mars' surface will get us the most science possible," said JPL engineer and webcast guest Deborah Bass. "Once the rovers arrive at Mars, I will act as a go-between for the science team, making sure that the measurements they want to make get properly implemented in the commands sent to the instruments."

"I am responsible for tracking thermal resources (heater switches, heater power, thermostat count and set points, temperature sensor count, and subsystem mass) as well as functional requirements," said JPL engineer Shonte Wright, who also will make an appearance during the program.

"Both formal and informal education programs are very important to NASA," said Ames education director Donald James. As NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe stated recently, education is a core component of NASA's mission, James added. Engaging students and inspiring the next generation of explorers is an important NASA priority, according to O'Keefe.

"This is part of an on-going series of Internet Webcasts and other activities that are providing students and people from all over the world with first-hand contact with NASA women and men," Conrad said. "Each Webcast is designed to engage the classroom in science and mathematics, including lesson plans and curricula developed by NASA."

Internet audience members can participate in the NASA-sponsored Internet events without pre-registering.

For additional information about NASA Quest programs on the World Wide Web, please telephone Linda Conrad at 650/604-1519.

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