A classroom of curious Edgeworth Elementary first-graders spent time learning about Mars exploration with the help of a NASA space engineer.
Boys and girls in Mrs. Kim Wolfendale’s class took turns Tuesday posing questions to Katie Weiss over a Skype chat projected on a large screen.
Weiss, a senior flight software engineer from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, was part of the team that worked on the Mars Curiosity rover. Weiss writes flight software that runs on and operates deep-space spacecraft.
Students wanted to know more about the red planet in relation to planet Earth, and about the Curiosity rover that landed the night of Aug. 5, 2012 on the far away mission.
Questions for Weiss ranged from how heavy the planet is to the science behind NASA’s most advanced rover.
Here's some of what students asked:
Are there aliens on Mars?
“There are aliens on Mars, but not as you think of aliens from the movies…” Right now the rover we sent is investigating whether there is life on Mars, such as bacteria.
Was there life ever on Mars?
“We don’t know the answer to that question yet.”
Do you take any videos on Mars?
“We do have a video camera on Mars, but we haven’t taken much video yet so stay tuned.”
How heavy is Mars?
“Mars is half the size of the Earth, so not as heavy.”
Does Mars move?
“Yes Mars moves, just like the Earth moves”
Is there a face on Mars?
“No there is not a face on Mars, but there are very tall mountains and canyons. It may look like it, but there’s not a face.”
How hot is Mars?
Mars is very, very cold, much colder than Earth. Mars could reach temperatures like Tuesday at 26 degrees, but not much more. Rovers have little heaters inside to keep them warm.
How heavy is the Rover?
The rover weighs approximately 1 ton, about 2,000 pounds. NASA’s Curiosity rover is as big as a Volkswagen Beetle, Mini Cooper or similar compact cars.