Using Earth to Explore Mars

Olympus Mons on Mars is as big as the state of Arizona Comparative planetology!
The Using Earth to Explore Mars web seminar, produced in collaboration with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Arizona State University Mars Education Program, was held on Thursday, November 16, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The presenters were Dr. Josh Bandfield, Research Specialist at the Mars Spaceflight Facility at Arizona State University, and Brian Grigsby, Assistant Director of the Mars Education and Outreach Program within the Mars Spaceflight Facility, School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. The presentation focused on comparisons of features, like canyons, volcanoes, the poles, sand dunes, dust storms, etc., present on both Earth and Mars. The program ended with an update on NASA's Mars exploration program.

Twenty-eight (28) participants were present in addition to the presenters and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

Participants trace the ejecta blanket seen around this crater on Mars

In this presentation Dr. Josh Bandfield used photos of features found on Earth and Mars to compare the planets. The images included volcanoes, canyons, deltas, polar regions, sand dunes, planet-wide dust storms, dust devils, gullies, etc. Mars is very similar to Earth, but some things are different. Mars is smaller than Earth. Olympus Mons on Mars, an inactive volcano, is as big as the state of Arizona. Mariner Valley, a canyon on Mars, is as long as the United States is wide, approximately 3,000 miles! During the seminar participants asked many questions regarding the formation of Martian geologic features, water, and global dust storms. Brian Grigsby ended the program with an update on current and future NASA's missions to Mars. All participants received a copy of NSTA's SciGuide about NASA's Exploration: Moon, Mars & Beyond, grades 5-8.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "I liked the update on the future Mars explorations. It was interesting the way
    Josh compared the size of Olympus Mons with the state of Arizona and the
    canyons with the size of the United States."
  • "Great seminar! I like the quick pace of this one. I enjoyed that there were
    many images and good explanations. I had not heard of or seen pictures
    of the ice fog that forms on Mars."
  • "Enjoyed the clarity of images highlighted by the presenter. Streaming
    questions and comments during the session. Carbon dioxide collected at
    the poles sublimates into Mars's atmosphere. This process is cyclic."
  • "First one I have attended. I can't say enough about how well it was organized
    and presented. It was great that you took the time to help us newbies
    learn how to work the system. I learned that scarps are landslides, but
    not known if submarine or not."

Thanks to the participants and the presenters for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!

Web Seminar: Using Earth to Explore Mars - Resources

See a recorded version of the Web Seminar.


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Underwritten by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory