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

“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 sched1A 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:

“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.