Skip Navigation Links

LTP (Learning Tehnologies Project) logo. This link returns you to the main LTP web site.Japan 2001 Science, Creativity and the Young Mind Workshop, Real World Science: A Comparison of the Volcanoes on Earth with the Volcanoes on Mars


Home | About the Space Science Team | Before | During | After | Student Presentations | Visual Tour
Publications | More Links and Resources | Site Map

Document Title Graphic

Mars image piece (and Skip Secondary Navigation Link for 508 Compliant Readers)
Link to Before the event dialog and information
Link to During the event dialog and information
Link to After the event dialog and information
Mars image piece

Before the Event

Topic Suggestion

The following document contains two suggestions for team activities for the Japan 2001 Workshop. Eric Albone requested the suggestions at the conclusion of his visit to Cleveland, Ohio, on April 12, 2001. He then shared the suggestions with his colleagues at Bristol University for a decision on their inclusion in the Workshop. The first suggestion was the basis of the Space Science Team activity.

Project 1-Draft 1
Martian Volcanoes
Objective: Draw conclusions on the structure, history, and origin of the Martian volcanoes in Tarsus by comparing NASA photographs of the Martian volcanoes with terrestrial volcanoes.
The group of six students may either break into teams of two or three people, each choosing specific aspects of Tarsus to study, or they may choose one topic and all six work as a team. Essential to the experience is:
· Using NASA materials obtained via the www (e.g., Viking and MGS orbital photos, etc.);
· Engaging in group dialogue, including free discussion and brainstorming about ideas and possible theories;
· Collaborating with experts present at Bristol University and NASA;
· Drawing conclusions; and
· Making a final presentation.
If opposing theories arise, the theories should each be developed and presented with supporting strengths and weaknesses. The students will thus get a taste of comparative planetology as practiced by NASA scientists in collaboration with professionals from different walks of life.

Project 2-Draft 1
Martian Dust Charging
Objective: Using terrestrial analogs (e.g., thunderstorms), develop a research program for a future robotic flyer to Mars to study electrical phenomena in depth.
There is evidence that:
· Martian surface dust acquires an electrical charge by friction (e.g., compaction by an astronaut's boot or by a rover wheel) or by collision (as in a dust storm, wherein airborne dust grains collide with one another in atmospheric suspension).
· The dust acquires an electrical charge whose SIGN depends on particle size. ('Small' particles tend to charge positively; 'large' particles tend to charge negatively.)
In order to answer the question regarding environmental electricity on Mars, scientists will study and discuss:
· The kinds and varieties of electrical phenomena that might occur (with supporting arguments), and
· The means of detection of each (e.g., broadband radio to detect static noise from dust devils, etc.).
Essential to the experience is:
· Engaging in group dialogue, including free discussion and brainstorming about ideas and possible theories;
· Collaborating with experts present at Bristol University and NASA;
· Drawing conclusions; and
· Making a final presentation.
If opposing theories arise, or alternative detection strategies are developed, they should each be presented with supporting strengths and weaknesses. The students will thus get a taste of comparative planetology and instrument design and selection as practiced by NASA scientists in collaboration with professionals from different walks of life.

Link back to the top of this web page

Online Resource Suggestions

The following list of URLs was furnished to Carsten Riedel, EU-RTN Volcano Hazard Mitigation, University of Bristol, Bristol, England, upon his request for (1) suggestions about where it will be possible to find the Tarsus volcanoes in the large NASA dataset and (2) satellite pictures from similar earth volcanoes.

Suggested URLs (Links open in new window) for images of the Tarsus volcanoes on Mars:

Suggested URLs for Hawaiian volcanoes, which is what we would suggest you concentrate on.

Link back to the top of this web page

Form and Content

The following message was sent to Carsten Riedel following a telephone conversation in which Joe Kolecki and Carsten exchanged a number of ideas on form and content of the Space Science team session:

Hi, again, Carsten,
An afterthought: I am more interested in the students thinking through issues that THEY see associated with the Tharsis volcanoes and FORMULATING THEIR OWN SETS OF QUESTIONS AND APPROACHES TO OBTAINING ANSWERS than I am in transferring information to them about why we think thus and so about the Tharsis features. Science--especially this type of science--works in a vast unknown, and the development of good questions is often the activity of paramount importance. Good questions usually contain the seeds of their own answers, or of the means of obtaining those answers.

For this activity, I consider answers as being strictly secondary. I consider the process of thinking things through and using available resources (i.e., a good comparative knowledge of Earth) as the single most important activity for the three days that they will be with us. I am most interested in the process and approach that THEY develop to thinking through the fact that these enormous and striking features exist on a sister world that travels in tandem with us around the sun.

Link back to the top of this web page

Initial Groundwork

The following is a message written by Joe Kolecki. The remarks are offered to help establish some initial ground for the week together:

Science is the business of observing natural phenomena and developing questions which are then answered by further consultation with nature via experiments, and so on, and so on, and so on…. The road followed is fascinating and, apparently, without end.

The process of formulating a 'good' question is by no means trivial, as I will try to show in the paragraphs below. A good question is a question grounded in the best knowledge we have in any given area. The open questions of Philosophy are usually not admissible by this criterion.

I hope to demonstrate further by example. I am going to pursue a chain of thought that fascinates me. Along the way, I will draw on what I know and allow new questions to emerge. Embedded in this process are potential seeds for future missions to Mars…provided, of course, that my ideas hold up under the strict scrutiny of my peers.

I've always been fascinated by the idea that the Hellas Basin, the Tharsis volcanoes, and the Mariner's Valley are connected by a single impact event that occurred in Mars' distant past. Does this idea have any real merit?

Click here if you need the required Flash Player to view this animation
(Download page opens in new window)

Let's begin by considering the fact that Tharsis and Hellas are not exactly antipodal (i.e., diametrically opposite). This relationship is interesting from the standpoint of earthquake wave propagation. Earthquakes, as you know, produce waves that propagate outward from a highly localized area called an epicenter. Some waves travel along the surface (P and S waves), dissipating their energy in various kinds of surface shakes and shimmies; others travel through earth's deep interior, eventually emerging on the other side of the planet. The various arrivals and re-arrivals of these waves due to reflections, etc., are responsible for the aftershocks we hear about so often in the news.

The interior waves are DIFFRACTED by the earth's complex semi-molten core. Diametrically opposite any given epicenter, therefore, there exists a "shadow zone" (quiescent zone) throughout which no interior waves arrive. (On Earth, this zone is actually quite extensive in terms of geographical area covered.) The occurrence and character of the shadow zones provide geologists with important information on the structure of Earth's deep interior.
Hellas' and Tharsis' "almost, but not quite, diametrically opposite" relationship becomes very suggestive here. Let us, therefore, ASSUME that a massive impactor struck Mars at the Hellas site (essentially providing an epicenter for an absolutely immense quake event). Let us also ASSUME a molten core on Mars at the time of this event. What might we expect to have ensued?

Mars-quake waves would be almost a certainty. Let's ignore the surface waves for the moment and focus on the deep interior waves. These waves would have been diffracted in a manner completely analogous with interior waves on Earth. If these waves were, somehow, responsible for the Tharsis and Mariner's features, then core diffraction would account for geometry. [The students should try to learn more about interior wave propagation at this point.]

In order for these waves to have been responsible for Tharsis, et al., they would have to have carried enough energy from Hellas to Tharsis through Mars to produce the bulge, the volcanoes, and the Mariner's Valley.
[Let's digress for a moment. For visualization: The Mariner's Valley is over 2,000 miles long and 3 miles deep at its greatest depth. It is very much like the split in the skin of a baseball that has been overstressed. (What would happen to a baseball that was hit sharply with a heavy object?) The crust of a terrestrial planet is very like the skin of a baseball, in scale, when compared to the overall bulk of the planet. Thus, the Mariner's Valley may be viewed as a titanic rift or split in the Martian crust.]

Let's think some more about energy. I have included a calculation that estimates the energy, mass, etc., of the Hellas impactor. Please note that the calculation shows that, in order to produce an impact feature the size of Hellas, the impactor would have to have had a mass one trillion times larger than the largest impactor known today on Earth. The energy would be correspondingly larger also! We will return to this point later….

First, though, let's return to the idea of a molten core. Although it is pretty well established that today Mars has a solid metallic core, our ideas on planetary formation lead us to believe that, almost certainly, Mars had a molten core at some point in its history. This notion will help us to establish a time frame for our hypothetical Hellas event.
Now, because Mars is 1/2 the [linear] size of Earth, we might guess (just for the purposes of roughing out ideas) that it had 1/8 the initial interior heat of Earth and that it cooled at roughly twice the rate.
[N.B.: This is a thumbnail-type calculation: 1/2 the size -> 1/4 the area and 1/8 the volume. Heat is stored in the volume and lost through the surface. ASSUMING equal initial thermal energy densities for Mars and Earth leads to the idea of 1/8 the initial thermal energy. And, since the surface-to-volume ratio of Mars is twice what it is for Earth, Mars would have cooled - initially, at least - at roughly twice the rate.]

Mars would have grown cold much more quickly than Earth. This idea tallies nicely with conditions observed on Mars today. We observe that the planet is now in a protracted ice age. That Mars was warmer in its past, and possibly more earthlike, is evidenced by numerous arroyos and alluvial features seen from orbit. It is probable that Mars had a more extensive atmosphere in its past than it does now and that much of this atmosphere was lost due to Mars' lower escape velocity (Mars has 1/3 the surface gravity of Earth). This loss, combined with the other factors we have been discussing, would have lead to an overall cooling down of the planet during its early epochs.

So…IF Hellas and Tharsis are connected, then these features MUST be very ancient; in fact, the forming event must have occurred during the earliest initial epochs of Mars' existence. Does THIS idea make sense?
Well, we know that Hellas' overall features are softened by erosion due to tenuous Martian winds, and that the entire region is pockmarked with more recent impact features. We also know that the Tharsis volcanoes have impact features, though not as many as Hellas (as would be expected if these volcanoes were active for long periods of time)… And so on. The students might want to pursue these ideas further…

Returning to the enclosed calculation: The Hellas impactor is estimated to have been immense by any standard of comparison known today on Earth. Could such an impactor really have existed in the early solar system?
We know (from the occurrence of craters throughout the solar system) that solid debris were ubiquitous and that, in fact, there WERE some pretty big objects moving in orbit about the sun during the late phases of the early solar system (when Mars was still warmer and more earth like). Additionally, Mars has, as one of its neighbors, the asteroid belt (which was also likely formed or forming during this early period). The asteroid belt is thought to consist of the remains of a terrestrial type planet broken apart by tidal stresses induced by Jupiter's gravitational field. So not only were large objects available, but if the pre-asteroidal planet (planetoid?) really had a structure similar to the inner planets, iron or iron-nickel fragments would [should] have been available from the core…

ETC. …
And so on. Again, the students might want to pursue these ideas further, or develop new chains of thought of their own. They must remember that speculation must be bracketed as much as possible by our present (though admittedly incomplete) knowledge of reality. We draw on what we know to try to push forward into new realms.

Looking forward to a great week together!
Joe Kolecki


The Hellas Basin Impactor

Density of impactors:

Irons: 7,500 - 8,000 kg/m3
Stony-irons: 5,500 - 6,000 kg/m3
Stones: 3,000 - 3,500 kg/m3

Meteor energy to produce a crater of diameter d:

E = 4 x 1013 d3 erg = 4 x 106 d3 j (d in meters)
Also: (Crater Mass Displaced)/(Mass Impactor) ~ 60,000

Nominal Density of Mars:

= 3.9 (H2O = 1)

Hellas Basin:

d = 2,300 km = 2.3 x 106m


1. Energy of the impactor:

E = 4.9 x 1025 j

2. Mass of Impactor:

Assume entry speed v = escape velocity from sun @ Mars orbit radius
v = 4.1 x 104 m/s
Set E = K.E. and determine mass
4.9 x 1025 j = ½ mv2
Symbol for therefore m = 5.8 x 1016 kg
[Compare: Mass of greatest known impactor on Earth: 8 x 104 kg]

3. Mass M of ejecta:

M = 60,000 x (5.8 x 1016 kg) = 3.5 x 1021 kg

3a.) Speculate about crater depth h:

Assume a cylindrical crater. Then:
Crater Volume = Greek Character - PIr2h = (3.5 x 1021 kg)/(3,900 kg/m3) = 9.0 x 1017 m3
And, with r = 1.2 x 106 m, we find that h = 2.0 x 105 m or about 200 km.
[Actually, this depth is close to 10% of the crater diameter, which matches measured results for terrestrial and lunar craters fairly nicely.]

4. Size of impactor:

Assume spherical impactor and find its radius s
5.8 x 1016 kg = (4/3) Greek Character - PIs3 (8,000 kg/m3)
symbol for therefore s = 12 km

C. W. Allen, Astrophysical Quantities, 2nd Edition, U. of London, 1963, pg. 139-140.
J. R. Percy (ed.), Observer's Handbook, 1977, Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, pg. 6, 8.

Link back to the top of this web page

Joe Kolecki message

The following is a message written by Joe Kolecki to Lawrence Williams before the event:

I am looking forward to the upcoming week with you and the students. There is SO much to tell them, and SO little time! I hope to convey to them the tentative nature of modern science (all science!) and to convince them of the importance of carefully investigating and developing good questions. I once read a commentary that a well formed question contained within itself the seeds of its own answer. Over my 32 years at NASA, I have come to embrace this idea as foundational in my work. After all, we build our spacecraft, wind tunnels, etc., all based on the logic invested in the questions we wish to answer!

Along the same lines: I spoke, a couple of years ago, with a group of exo-biologists who were developing life sciences experiments for Mars. I asked them what sorts of "things" they were looking for on Mars. They answered that they had not the slightest idea. "All we understand is terrestrial biology," one of them explained. "So, we are using terrestrial biology as our starting point. We do not necessarily expect to find terrestrial forms, but we hope to garner enough clues from this initial step to formulate more accurate second generation life-sciences experiments."

This experience is one of the most telling cases in point I have ever come across regarding the type of philosophy I hope to share with your students. If they learn some new ways of thinking about their world in the few days that we are together, then they will have achieved more than all the "right answers" in the world put together!

And, who knows…someone may just uncover a line of reasoning that is genuinely new. Then…just think of the possibilities!!!

Link back to the top of this web page

Carsten Riedel message

The following message was written by Carsten Riedel to Ruth Petersen and Joe Kolecki on July 17, 2001:

I am quite fascinated by the ideas in "Hellas Impactor" mail. However, I would propose to launch the project by a more superficial approach, before we actually get to those points in the actual Wednesday session, which is the longest. My idea is still to start off by looking at the Tharsis volcanoes, slopes, flows and cones and get them starting to worry about what volcanoes these may be. And then we slowly work our way from surface to interior by thinking of the differences between Tharsis volcanoes and Hawaiian volcanoes, such as, what restricts the size of the Hawaiian volcanoes? The answers could be very diverse such as:

1. Gravitational sliding--why could there be more gravitational sliding on Earth than on Mars?
2. Crustal thickness and so on…
3. Composition of lavas
4. Hawaiian volcanoes get more and more silicic, i.e. explosive, so what they built up is destroyed again. Could that happen on Mars as well? Why or why not?
5. Effect of the moving plate, all is built on one spot, i.e., monogenetic volcanoes on Mars.

That will get them thinking about the deeper origin of things. We are also going to show them how basic features on the photos - like flows or cinder cones - can be modeled in the lab very easily. So that they get an understanding of what static photos can actually tell about the dynamics of a process…

As far as I understand there is not much time before the first videoconferencing session, so until then they will get a basic introduction to volcanoes by Steve Sparks and we will try to inspire a discussion which will tell us how much they already know by showing them some of the Mars pictures and comparing them to Japanese volcanoes first and Hawaiian volcanoes afterwards…
So that is the plan. The first videoconferencing session is thus more or less an introduction of our group - i.e., Stuart and me - and you at NASA and the students to each other.

Link back to the top of this web page

The following message was written by Joe Kolecki in answer to Carsten's July 17 message:

Your approach makes complete sense. I would add to it the building of scale models. For example, Mt. Olympus is, nominally, 180 km in base diameter and 10 km vertically from base to summit. This set of numbers, taken alone, could be compared with dimensions of the largest mountains on Earth. I enjoy using Mt. Everest, 3.3 km from base to summit.

Further: The calderas of Mt. Olympus have scale sizes of around 30-50 km or so. And the vertical escarpments around the base measure something like a 1.5+ km (variable with location). By simply drawing a cross section of the mountain, one gets an immediate impression of flatness (which is surprising at first glance!). A similar exercise could [should] be done with Hellas (2300 km diameter by nominally 200 km depth).

Going on, again: The nominal vertical extent of the Martian "lower" atmosphere is 0 - 45 km, and of the "middle" atmosphere, 45 km - 110 km (ref., Kieffer, et. al., "Mars," pg., 810, 811). Thus, the summit of Mt. Olympus is, essentially, in outer space. This fact should strongly influence how the students think about Mars. There is no direct analogy to such a system on Earth.
Finally, if a scale drawing of Mt. Olympus were turned upside down and placed into the scale drawing of Hellas (assume a cone-shaped basin here for simplicity), the immense Mt. Olympus would suddenly become a dwarf compared to the even more colossal H. Basin. One might ask how such a "small" planet could acquire such enormous features.

Anyway, these are all just suggestions. When we video conference, I hope not so much to lecture as to elicit questions. By doing so, I hope to attempt to address those concerns that are closest to the students hearts and minds without throwing a lot of extra confusing detail. I will rely on you and your colleagues to guide things along on that end and to jump in at any point during my comments as you see fit.

Link back to the top of this web page

The following quotation from the patron of the Workshop was sent to Joe Kolecki by Lawrence Williams:

"The more we can build international links among young people, particularly in the field of science which is itself entirely international in its impact, the better it will be for the future of the human race and the world we inhabit." (Rt Hon the Lord Jenkin of Roding, Workshop Patron, welcoming the students to the Japan 2001 Workshop.)

Link back to the top of this web page

The following message was sent to Lawrence Williams from Joe Kolecki in response to Lord Jenkin's quotation:

Yes, I agree with the enclosed quotation. I am currently reading Jules Verne's "Master of the World," which depicts a period in history when the lone scientist/inventor was a believable and viable entity. With the advent of 20th century science, this lone figure recedes, to be replaced by teams of specialists, each an expert in some part of a field or project whose full content is too large for any one individual to master. The launch of Apollo and the subsequent development of the Space Program bring into existence even larger groups. A successful launch requires the intricate cooperation of several hundred or more people, each with a specific set of tasks that must integrate with precision.

The further exploration of our Earth, and the extension of that activity into the solar system (and beyond), will be/become a global undertaking. We now know that the earth is not to be studied as a set of separate systems or subsystems operating semi-independently together. The earth is a single, tightly integrated system, a network, if you please, whose connecting links represent complex information pathways, and whose nodes represent individual states which are, themselves, complex sub-networks connected to the whole. The same must apply to the solar system as a whole, and to its individual planets, moons, etc., as well.

International cooperation brings into play resources - people and systems - whose whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. Such cooperation is the most viable path into the future, if it can be achieved and maintained peacefully and with a strong bond of mutual trust.

Link back to the top of this web page

Documents/Press Release


Development of a New ICT Learning Model by Lawrence Williams (Appendix D)


Link back to the top of this web page


Dear Colleagues,

I hope you will forgive this long but necessary collective email to you as people who have all so very kindly given of your time in leading the various Project Teams of the Workshop. It really is on track to be an excellent event, and we do thank you.

The students will be arriving on Sunday afternoon 22 July and they will be staying at Churchill Hall, as will a number of the organisers. I attach a complete listing of the students and the schools they are coming from to give a sense of breadth of what we are attempting.

1) INTRODUCTORY MATERIALS: Before they arrive in Bristol, it would be immensely helpful for the students to have an introductory sheet about the objectives of their Project Team (in some cases with other material), getting them to think about it in advance. Quite a number of Project Teams have done this quite recently and it is appreciated... we are already in touch with quite a number of the students by email and I know how thrilled they are about the week... and in some cases a little apprehensive.

If you are leading a Project Teams whihc has not yet done this, could I say that putting together such a sheet, written in a chatty but informative style, would be immensely helpful; it need only be quite brief. To give an idea what others have done, I have attached (and I hope without causing embarrassment) two examples of such the introductory sheets from the Environment Team Project and the Science through Theatre Team Projects. These have already gone out to the students.When you have a draft, just email it to me and I will deal with the rest.

2) INTRODUCTORY SESSION: The first session on the Monday morning (23 July at 9.15) in the Mott Lecture Theatre of Bristol University Physics Department will involve all the students. It will be in two parts. Before coffee there will be some words of welcome, encouragement and inspiration from a number of people including Prof Steve Sparks (who is leading the vulcanology project team and will also represent the Royal Society), Prof Gordon Stirrat (from the Institute of Advanced Studies) and Prof Haruo Hosoya and Prof Mamoru Shimoi (representing the Japanese scientific societies who have collaborated so enthusiastically in recruiting the Japanese students). Valerie Davey, MP from Bristol West and Member of the
Commons Education Select Committee will also be with us.

After coffee, will be the time to give the students as a group overall
orientation and introduction to the Workshop, to answer their questions and to link them with their Team leaders. It would be really valuable is you or one of your associates could be with your students at that event. You would also have the chance if you wished to speak to the whole group of the cuff for a few minutes about what your Team will be doing... to give everyone the broad picture.

I would value your comments, ideas and suggestions about how to make this session work to maximum effect.

2) MEALS AND THINGS The students will be issued with vouchers for lunches at the Hawthorns, to be taken at any time between 12.30 and 2.00. Students will be staying at the Churchill Hall where they will have their other meals. They will come into Bristol University by bus each morning, and be taken back by bus in the evening; the pick up point is at the Hawthorns.

Because there are too many people (students plus adults) for one journey,the bus will do two runs each way each day, (arriving at approx 8.45 and 9.15 each morning and departing at 17.00 and 17.30 each evening). Of course for those Teams where the work is not based on the main University of Bristol Campus, it may not be necessary to come into Bristol at all.

Each team will have the service of a native Japanese speaker who has good English (often Japanese undergraduate or graduate of the University) It is for the Project Team Leader working with these Facilitators to be responsible for ensuring the student groups are given, and follow, clear instructions about where they are to be at all times in the day.

3) STUDENT PRESENTATIONS One of the outcomes will be concise public presentations by each Team of the essence of what they have achieved during the week. This event will be held in the Tyndall Lecture Theatre of Bristol University Physics Department starting at 2.00 on the afternoon of Friday 27 July (we have booked the room all day, so preparations can start earlier).

Because there are 10 groups (and all will be very productive) presentations must necessarily be concise and sharp.. 10 min + 5 min discussion at the most I would think. To help the process we are booking a good video projection facility from outside the university, which will enable the Teams to give a taste of what they have achieved efficiently and effectively though video, if they wish; also through Powerpoint.

I would most certainly be grateful for your further comments and
suggestions about ways of making this afternoon a really outstanding and memorable for all concerned.

4) OTHER OUTCOMES Because the presentations will only give a taste of what has been achieved, and because we wish the workshop to maximise its impact, we ask each group to produce a Team Report (in some cases this would include video material) of its work to contribute to the full Workshop Report which we will produce and distribute to interested people as well of course as to the participants. The students could also take copies of their own team reports away with them at the end of the workshop.

Finally, we are also setting up a Workshop Website which will provide yet another means of sharing outcomes more widely.

Apologies that this has been so long. I hope it is helpful.

Eric Albone

Link back to the top of this web page

<< Back to LTP information | Next to During the event >>

Link to Home Page  Link to About the Space Science Team  Link to Before the Event  Link to During the Event  Link to After the Event  Link to Visual Tour of event  Link to Other Resources and Links

Web Related:
Technology Related:
Responsible NASA Official: Theresa M. Scott