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AstroFerret on Earth drawing Martian Design Challenge Webchat
October 29, 2003

Chat with NASA scientists to ask questions about human habitability on Mars, and possibly life-forms that might survive in the Martian environment.
More information on this event is available
Read bios of experts Geoff Briggs and Jon Rask
(.pdf format)

Wed Oct 29 (continued)

[ Linda/NASAQuest - 33 - 08:08:24 ]
These are additional answers from the chat on October 29

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 46 - 13:06:22 ]
RE: Derek at NYC Public School 56 Queens, is curious to know about a robot like creature that performs tasks but mimics life functions -- It that an option for Martian creature development?
I think your focus should be biological, and consider the hostile conditions that is would have to survive in.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 47 - 13:06:42 ]
RE: If in the future we could live on Mars, how would all of the people be transported there? If everybody could get there, can Mars hold the whole population of Earth?
Presumably some kind of shuttle-like transportation technology would be necessary, but they would have to be designed to operate in both Earth's and Mars' atmosphere. Water looks like one of the major limiting factors to life on a planet, and since Mars is like a giant polar desert, it would be very difficult and expensive to sustain even small populations.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 48 - 13:07:00 ]
RE: Dear Nasa Scientist, 1.Could the gas that makes up Mars be used to power items normally powered by natural gas on Earth? Alexa,Gregory,Samantha, and Andrew in Mrs. Segerdahl's class
Mars has CO2 in its atmophere, and one could combine it with H (that you'd probably have to bring from Earth to get started) to make CH4 (methane). Researchers are working on the problem right now.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 49 - 13:07:24 ]
RE: Alexa,Gregory,Samantha, and Andrew in Mrs. Segerdahl's class: 2. Does Mars have sound? Thank you for answering our questions.
Yes. Excellent question - Since the atmosphere is so thin, sound waves travel less efficiently, so very loud sounds on Earth made on Mars would seem quiet and garbled. Right now, a Mars Microphone is being designed by a friend of mine, and he hopes it will fly sometime on one of the next landers. Sadly, the first attempt to hear the sounds of Mars with an earlier version of the microphone failed when Polar Lander crashed a few years ago.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 50 - 13:08:50 ]
RE: We're really excited to be able to ask some questions to NASA. What is the necessary gases needed in the atmosphere of Mars and how much of the gases do we need? Jennifer,Darwin,Laura,and Ian of Mrs. Segerdahl's class
You don't have to add gases to the atmosphere of Mars, just use those that are already there for your organisms.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 51 - 13:09:15 ]
RE: Thank you for answering our questions on Mars. What do you think that the percentage of possibility of there being life on Mars? Thanks a lot from Adrian, Andrew, Karen, and Marissa in Mrs.Segerdahl's class.
If there is liquid water, there is a good chance. We have no way of quantifying the possibility.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 59 - 13:14:13 ]
RE: Other than the sun, are there any stars that have effect on Mars? If so what is their effect? Thanks a lot from Adrian, Andrew, Karen, and Marissa in Mrs.Segerdahl's class.
In terms of gravity, all stars and planets interact, but the forces are much greater if they are close together. For all practical purposes for your project, no.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 60 - 13:14:32 ]
RE: is it posibble that if mars was hit by a large enough forse could tilt mars on a normal orbit that it might be able to have normal seasons but if tilt on it's axis the polar caps will melt creating water. what if we had alge plantations to create good clean oxygen?
We think that may have already happened - Mars is tilted nearly the same as Earth, so there are seasons on Mars (winter spring summer and fall)However, they are roughly twice as long as those here on Earth because Mars takes over 600 days to go around the sun (earth takes 365 days). There are people studying teraforming of Mars, but for this project, we're not going to terraform.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 61 - 13:14:48 ]
RE: Was there at one time life on Mars
This is an unanswered question. We don't know.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 63 - 13:15:32 ]
RE: We are studying about infrastructure and I want to know if there are any plans to develop one (like a type of roadway) so that rovers and even my Martian can get around on the ground and not need to fly.
It may be easier to design a martian the does not have to move.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 64 - 13:16:03 ]
RE: Does the Martian have to remain in its own habitat in a certain area of Mars? Does it have to have a Martian food source or energy source or can it have its food brought in (from Earth or other planets)? Do we decide if it is a carnivore, omnivore, herbivore, or robot needing maybe solar energy?
The martian should get its energy from Mars. Photosynthesis would be a good tool to get solar energy, so movement is not necessarily required - also it might be easier to design a tiny organism.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 65 - 13:16:34 ]
RE: Does the Martian have a maximum weight it is allowed to be?
No, but smaller organisms will likely be easier to design.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 72 - 13:22:05 ]
RE: Does the Martian need to be delivered to Mars or can we assume it has been there all along, even though we are designing it? We would like to know if we have to consider transportation of the creature to the planet or how it gets around.
Assume it is either there or you put it there. Also consider that many organisms here on Earth don't have to move.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 73 - 13:22:25 ]
RE: What is the maximum and minimum temperature on Mars? Do different regions of Mars have different temperature ranges like on Earth? Do we have a temperature range for our Martian's body to exist (like on Earth) or can we choose its temperature?
Max temps get above the freezing points of water, and there are regions at night that I believe get over 100 degrees C below zero. Yes - there are diurnal and seasonal temperature effects caused by Mars rotation and revolution around the sun. In general, mars is like a giant frozen desert like antarctica, but far colder and dryer.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 74 - 13:22:40 ]
RE: Do I have to explain the origin of my Martian (how it is born, hatched, created) or how it reproduces?
This would be good to include, because it will make you think about the conditions it must survive in, and the possible ecosystem needed to support it.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 75 - 13:22:56 ]
RE: Can my Martian have day and night cycles like Earth or must it adapt to Martian days/weeks/years?

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 76 - 13:23:12 ]
RE: Does my Martian have to have the ability to fight disease (like humans)?
This is up to you to decide, explain, and justify.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 77 - 13:23:31 ]
RE: Austin/Mrs. Anderson's 7th and 8th: How long do you think it will be before man is able to walk on Mars?
No one knows. This will be decided by Congress - our current congress does not support it. One thing is for sure: we have to decide first, then make the effort. Right now, the decision is no.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 86 - 13:27:46 ]
RE: We are following the developing information about Lake Vostok in Antarctica, and are wondering if any data has been gathered or exists about the polar ice caps on Mars.
Yes. Do a quick search for specifics, but they are mostly water ice and CO2 deposits, but there are distinct differences between the North and South Cap.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 87 - 13:28:04 ]
RE: Hi again. Can my Martian make use of the solar powered drill mentioned that you are developing to dig underground and create a shelter on Mars? Can chips (nanotechnology) be brought along to put in its shelter to send signals to the Martian (for locating its shelter) and to be an energy source for the Martian?
For our exercise, I think we are supposed to focus on Biology.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 88 - 13:28:26 ]
RE: Do we have to take into account the existence of other Martians (different and the same) on the planet?
Absolutely. Biology is inherently a web of interactions between many organisms.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 89 - 13:28:57 ]
RE: Sullivan's 5th grade class/Arkansas What happened to the water on Mars?
No one knows for sure. But, most likely some was lost to space or vaporized from impacts and the rest retreated to the subsurface - which may be a good place for your martian.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 90 - 13:29:39 ]
RE: Mrs. Sullivan's 5th grade/Arkansas Why did the temperature drop on Mars?
Its not clear.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 91 - 13:30:09 ]
RE: Sullivan's 5th/Arkansas Did anything ever live on Mars?
It is unknown.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 92 - 13:30:44 ]
RE: Sullivan's 5th/Arkansas If there is life on Mars, what would it be like?
this is your task to determine!

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 93 - 13:31:13 ]
RE: Sullivan's 5th\Arkansas Are the volcanoes on Mars still active?
Possibly, but likely not. Yet, this may be a good location for possible subsurface ecosystems.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 97 - 13:34:32 ]
RE: Sullivan's 5th/Arkansas What would humans need to survive on Mars?
All the necessary life support you have here on Earth.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 98 - 13:34:48 ]
RE: Jayme/Mrs. Anderson's 7th and 8th: Does Mars have seasons?
Yes. Excellent question. Mars is tilted nearly the same as Earth, so there are seasons on Mars (winter spring summer and fall)However, they are roughly twice as long as those here on Earth because Mars takes over 600 days to go around the sun as compared to Earth which takes 365 days.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 99 - 13:35:06 ]
RE: Brock/Mrs. Anderson's: Do you in your opinion think that there is still is life on Mars?
No one knows if there ever was.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 108 - 13:42:24 ]
RE: Hayley/Mrs. Andersons: Why are the Northern and Southern hemisphers of Mars so different? And why are the Northern and Southern polar caps so different? Is there still active volcanism on Mars?
Possibly, but they are likely extinct. Geolocially speaking, the last eruptions we inferr that happened were quite recent.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 109 - 13:42:49 ]
RE: What exactly caused the erosion patterns that look so much like stream beds on Earth?
We think running water long ago.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 110 - 13:43:04 ]
RE: How much subterranean water is there?
Enough to cover the entire surface to a depth of many meters, but this calculation is very model dependent. Mars Remains at the top of the list of possible life bearing planets. The Viking probes found little evidence of life on Mars. But they sampled only two isolated locations.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 111 - 13:43:34 ]
RE: Is there life elsewhere or was there life at some time in the past on Mars?
This is unknown.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 112 - 13:43:48 ]
RE: Is Mars inhabited? Could it be home to mankind some time in the future?

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 113 - 13:44:08 ]
RE: What evidence do you have that leads you to believe that there may have been bodies of water on Mars?
There are some signs of possible shorelines or lakes, and catastrophic breaches of ancient lakes, but much of this research is still underway and is being debated.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 114 - 13:44:25 ]
RE: In the Northern Hemisphere of Mars, why does it have an ebrupt elevation chage of several kilometers occurring at the boundary?
The origin of the hemispheric dichotomy is unknown, but there are several possibilities: a giant impact that wiped out the northern pole of Mars, or maybe its how it just formed, with respect to some other object. This is one of the great mysteries of Mars research.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 115 - 13:44:51 ]
RE: Elizabeth/Mrs. Anderson's 7th and 8th: Is there bacteria growing on Mars?
We don't known - this might be a good organism to design!

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 128 - 13:51:08 ]
RE: can I have Martian with out a noses

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 129 - 13:51:25 ]
RE: What is the atmosphere on Mars.
It is the blanket of gases that surround the planet.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 130 - 13:51:44 ]
RE: Could martians teleport to get away from danger?
No. Use characteristics that biology here on Earth has.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 131 - 13:52:00 ]
RE: Is there oxygen in the polar ice caps. Jacob Wenonah Scool
Yes, but it is in the form of water ice and CO2.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 132 - 13:52:24 ]
We do not know.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 133 - 13:52:53 ]
RE: Can my martian produce it's own oxygen, by having plants on it's body?
You could incorporate photosynthesis into your martian.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 134 - 13:53:43 ]
RE: Is there any gravity on Mars?
Yes - about a third as much on Earth. (0.38g). If you weighed 100 kilograms on Earth, you would weigh 38 kilograms on Mars.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 135 - 13:54:18 ]
RE: when did you discover mars
I did not discover Mars.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 136 - 13:55:18 ]
RE: Any fossilized creatures found on Mars? Meredith Wenonah School

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 137 - 13:55:35 ]
No. But there are subsurface ice reserves in many locations, and at the poles.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 148 - 14:00:34 ]
RE: How will the gravity effect my Martian?
about a third as much on Earth. (0.38g). If you weighed 100 kilograms on Earth, you would weigh 38 kilograms on Mars.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 150 - 14:02:55 ]
RE: How did the question get started "Is there extraterrestrial Life on Mars?" and why was the attention mainly on Mars for having life?
How did the question get started "Is there extraterrestrial Life on Mars?" and why was the attention mainly on Mars for having life?

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 151 - 14:03:21 ]
I don't understand the question.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 153 - 14:04:10 ]
RE: How will the atmosphere support my Martian?
This is for you to determine - consider the composition of Mars' atmosphere.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 154 - 14:04:26 ]
RE: Do you know when the rivers have dried out? Scott Wenonah School
Probably billions of years ago., but there is very recent evidence suggesting that there may be some limited, complex liquid flow that forms gullies today!

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 155 - 14:04:55 ]
RE: Would martians survive better as a humanform or as lizardform?
A creature that can better survive cold, dry conditions. But keep in mind that if your creature is large, you have to have an ecosystem to support it too.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 156 - 14:05:11 ]
RE: What is the differnice of weight on Mars then on Erath
about a third as much on Earth. (0.38g). If you weighed 100 kilograms on Earth, you would weigh 38 kilograms on Mars.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 157 - 14:05:26 ]

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 158 - 14:06:14 ]
RE: can you send a monkey to Mars
Possibily, but we don't have the technology to do it right now.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 163 - 14:10:44 ]
RE: Are the martians restricted to a number of body parts
Not necessarily.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 164 - 14:10:58 ]
There is a solid core in the middle of Mars.

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 165 - 14:11:20 ]
RE: When do you think they will send people to Mars? Peggy & Tyler Wenonah School

[ Jon_Rask/NASA_Ames - 166 - 14:11:29 ]
RE: How long is the day on mars
About 24 hours

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