MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Guy Webster (818) 354-6278
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2001
NASA "AMBASSADORS" SHARE SPACE DAY EXCITEMENT WITH PUBLIC
Sunspots touch both K.B. Hallmark's job as a police
communications supervisor in Victoria, Texas, and his
volunteer sideline of helping people learn about space.
Hallmark and his wife, Janet, and about 35 other members
of the Solar System Ambassadors Program have planned public
outreach activities in communities from coast to coast on or
near Space Day, which is May 3. The ambassadors program is
coordinated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
The Hallmarks will team with their local Crossroads
Astronomy Club for a May 5 event in a Wal-Mart parking lot in
Victoria, offering views through telescopes equipped with
special filters for viewing the Sun.
"Not everyone can say they've seen sunspots. A lot of
people are surprised that with special preparations they can
look at the Sun safely, and for free," said K.B. Hallmark, who
has organized similar parking-lot solar telescope events twice
before and drawn hundreds of curious viewers.
He explains to them how solar storms can affect
activities on Earth, such as by disrupting radio
communications. "During peak periods of solar activity, like
we've been having this year, we get skips from all over
tearing up the state police radio," he said.
The goal of Space Day is to advance science, mathematics
and technology education and to inspire young people to
realize the vision of Earth's space pioneers. The focal point
event will be at the National Air and Space Museum,
The solar system ambassadors' outreach events year-round
include information about NASA missions to explore the Sun and
planets. Many of the missions are managed by JPL, which is
operated for NASA by the California Institute of Technology,
"The ambassadors are dedicated volunteers who like to
share their excitement about exploration of the solar system,"
said JPL's Kay Ferrari, coordinator of the program. "They come
from all kinds of backgrounds and careers: teachers,
engineers, business executives, planetarium directors. You
An ambassador who co-owns a landscaping business in
Goodland, Kan., Shirley Hussey Cooper, is renting a school
auditorium the evening of May 3 for a Space Day event about
missions to Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. She has been fascinated
with the sky since her father, an early aviator who built his
first plane in 1924, took her flying before she could walk.
She remembers telling other kids in her second grade about the
planets by drawing with a stick in the playground dirt.
"I like to encourage people to enrich their lives by
looking up a little more," she said. "I think the space
program is inspiring and important for the future, so I just
like telling people about it."
In Bridgewater, N.J., a free space-exploration exhibit
that opened this week at the Somerset County Extension Center
will stay open through May 4. Lisa Rothenburger, who organized
it, is a county agent for 4-H youth programs, as well as a
solar system ambassador. She expects the exhibit to be seen by
more than 500 adults and youths.
"I want people to feel the excitement about the space
program that we felt in 1969," Rothenburger said. "The program
is still doing amazing things -- sending spacecraft to Mars,
landing on an asteroid, studying moons of other planets."
The National 4-H Council, as well as NASA, the National
Science Teachers Association and more than 60 other
organizations co-sponsor Space Day.
The Solar System Ambassadors Program currently boasts 206
ambassadors in 48 states and on a U.S. military base in South
Korea. They were selected by JPL on the basis of their
backgrounds and their plans for public outreach activities.
JPL provides them with educational materials and training
sessions, including contacts with mission scientists. Last
year, ambassadors' events reached more than 500,000 people.
Additional examples illustrate the assortment of events
some ambassadors will lead on or near Space Day. Dr. Gregory
Shanos, a pharmacist, will lead a May 5 program at a museum in
Tampa, Fla., about how impacts of comets and asteroids have
shaped evolution of life on Earth. Deanna Walvatne, a teacher,
will be sharing space-exploration information on May 4 at a
Boy Scout camporee in Sumner, Iowa. At a bookstore in Los
Angeles on May 3, engineering student Jeffrey Kwong will
present a look at some of the ways NASA spacecraft study the
More information about the Solar System Ambassadors
Program is available online at
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador . More information about
Space Day is at http://spaceday.com .
JPL is a division of the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.