PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contacts: Jane Platt/Jet Propulsion Lab (818) 354-0880
Dick Methia/Challenger Center for Space Science Education (703) 683-9740
Madelyn Smith/JASON Project (703) 276-2772
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASESeptember 12, 1996
NASA TEAMS WITH EDUCATORS TO SPRINKLE STARDUST IN CLASSROOMS
The magic of comets will play a starring role in thousands of classrooms
across America, thanks to an agreement between NASA's Stardust project and two
national education organizations.
Through the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, located in
Alexandria, VA, and the Jason Project, based in Waltham, MA, beginning this
fall more than 2 million school children will have hands-on experience in
studying comets, the orbiting objects often described as "dirty snowballs."
As the students learn about these fascinating, primitive celestial bodies,
NASA will be gearing up for its upcoming Stardust mission, expected to launch in
1999. This unique mission will fly close to the Comet Wild-2, gather some
material spewed from its tail and then return the sample to Earth in 2006
for scientific study. The Stardust mission will be the first ever to return
material from outside the Earth-Moon system.
"With the infrastructure of kids interested in science and engineering,
it's a ready-made synergistic audience for the excitement of this comet
mission," said Stardust Project Manager Ken Atkins. The educational programs
will target children from the fourth through eighth grades.
The Challenger Center, a leader in education simulation, has developed a
scenario in which students will "fly" their own space mission to rendezvous
with a comet and take samples from its tail.
"Comets have inspired people for thousands of years as the quintessential
space objects," said Vance Ablott, chief executive officer of the Challenger
Center. "By working with NASA on Project Stardust we will link the reality of
this important mission with the dreams of students across the country to
advance the study of math, science and technology."
The JASON Project will also utilize high-tech learning methods in the
classroom and on the Internet to offer students an interactive journey to
space. The JASON Project was originally founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert
Ballard after thousands of students wrote him about his discovery of the
wreckage of the R.M.S. Titanic. Through sophisticated telecommunications,
the foundation provides a "telepresence," enabling students to witness
real-time research expeditions and share data with scientists. This "you
are there" approach to learning will be reflected in the students' studies
Stardust is the latest in NASA's set of Discovery missions. The missions
team NASA with industry and universities to launch low-cost spacecraft in a
short period of time with exceptional, focused scientific goals.
The Stardust Project is a collaboration between Principal Investigator
Dr. Don Brownlee of the University of Washington, the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and industry partner Lockheed Martin Astronautics
in Denver, CO, for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.