Student Scientists Win Spots on Mars Team
Planetary Society Students to Take Picture of Mars From Orbit
Press Conference at LEGOLAND California
For the first time
ever, students will be given a hands-on opportunity to take a picture of Mars from a spacecraft. The Planetary Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars Training Mission will enable nine Student Scientists from around the world to image Mars with a camera on the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft.
The Society, in cooperation with the LEGO Company -- one of the program's sponsors -- will host a Student Press Conference showcasing the winning students and their achievements at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, California, on Friday, February 16, 2001. The students' Mars Orbiter Camera picture will be released at the press conference.
The nine Student Scientists were selected from over ten thousand entrants worldwide to serve on the Planetary Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars Training Mission. Ranging in age from 10 to 15, the winners -- four girls, five boys -- hail from across the globe: Brazil, Hungary, India, Poland, Taiwan, and the United States.
The students have worked with imaging data from the NASA Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft currently in orbit around Mars to choose a candidate landing site for a possible sample return mission. The Mars Orbiter Camera on the MGS mission was built by and is operated by Malin Space Science Systems.
The Student Scientist Training Mission will last a week in southern California, February 10-16. At Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, the students will take pictures of their site on Mars with the MGS Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC). The imaging will be carried out under the supervision of Michael Malin and Ken Edgett, whose recent announcement of evidence for possible seepage of Martian groundwater stunned the world. The MOC is the same camera Michael Malin and Ken Edgett used to collect their data.
The findings of the Student Scientists will be announced by Ken Edgett at a Student Press Conference on February 16 at LEGOLAND. The Planetary Society and LEGOLAND California have invited local elementary and middle school students to attend the Student Press Conference as media representatives from their schools.
LEGO is a principal sponsor of the Red Rover Goes to Mars project of the Society, which is being conducted in cooperation with NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The winners are Zsofia Bodo, 15, Hungary; Kimberly DeRose, 13, USA; Bernadett Gaal, 14, Hungary; Shaleen Harlalka, 15, India; Iuri Jasper, 12, Brazil; Hsin-Liu Kao, 11, Taiwan; Tanmay Khirwadkar, 13, India; Wojciech Lukasik, 10, Poland; and Vikas Sarangadhara, 10, India.
These remarkable young people were chosen from a field of 80 semi-finalists, who represented 16 nations. Forty-four nations are participating in the contest.
People everywhere can follow along with the training and progress of the Student Scientists on The Planetary Society's website at http://planetary.org.
RED ROVER GOES TO MARS:
The Red Rover Goes to Mars program is an outgrowth of the Red Rover, Red Rover program -- a joint development of The Planetary Society, the Center for Self-Organizing and Intelligent Systems at Utah State University, Visionary Products, Inc., and the LEGO Company. Using computers linked through the Internet, students teleoperate robotic rovers built from LEGO Dacta components. Over 400 Red Rover, Red Rover sites are already established in classrooms and science centers worldwide.
Red Rover Goes to Mars is sponsored by The Planetary Society and the LEGO Company, with Liberte Yogurt of Canada, Science Magazine, and the AAAS Directorate for Education and Human Resources, in cooperation with NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Malin Space Science Systems, ASU Mars K-12 Education Program, and Visionary Products, Inc., and with the support of Varig Airlines and Sundance Stage Lines, Inc. The LEGO Company has been a principal partner with The Planetary Society in the development of Red Rover, Red Rover.
THE PLANETARY SOCIETY:
Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the search for extraterrestrial life. With 100,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society is the largest space interest group in the world.
MEDIA INFORMATION: THE PLANETARY SOCIETY
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Susan Lendroth at (626)793-5100.
LEGOLAND California is a 128-acre family theme park dedicated to youngsters between the ages of 3 and 12. Just like with LEGO toys, kids are the ones who make things happen at the Park. They drive, pedal, squirt, climb, jump, stomp, slide, steer, pull, click, push, gallop, laugh, build and program their way through more than 40 rides and attractions. There are only two other LEGOLAND parks in the world -- LEGOLAND® Billund in Denmark, and LEGOLAND® Windsor outside of London. A fourth LEGOLAND is under construction near Güünzburg, Germany, and is scheduled to open in 2002. LEGOLAND California is part of Global Family Attractions, a division of the LEGO Company.
Kina Paegert (760) 918-5377 or Meike Refardt (760) 918-5511
MALIN SPACE SCIENCE SYSTEMS:
Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) designs, develops, and operates instruments that fly on robotic spacecraft. MSSS is currently operating the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) aboard the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft, in orbit about Mars since September 1997. The company provided the visible camera for the 2001 Mars Odyssey and had instruments aboard the lost Mars Observer, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, and cancelled Mars Surveyor 2001 lander. The company's work in Mars exploration was featured in recent issues of Aviation Week (December 11, 2000) and National Geographic (February 2001).