MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: John G. Watson
EMBARGOED UNTIL 8:30 P.M. PST TODAY, MAY 21, 1998
JPL PARTNERS WITH MATTEL FOR NEW HOT WHEELS GALILEO TOY
A toy version of NASA's Galileo spacecraft currently in
orbit around Jupiter will be produced under a licensing agreement
between the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Mattel Inc.
Mattel plans an early 1999 debut for the new Hot Wheels
Jupiter/Europa Encounter Action Pack, a highly detailed
reproduction of the Galileo spacecraft. Also included in the set
are reproductions of the Galileo descent probe that entered
Jupiter's atmosphere in 1995 and of one of the giant ground-based
antenna dishes now used to communicate with the spacecraft.
During its current extended mission, Galileo is in orbit
around Jupiter, making repeated flybys of its four largest moons,
including Europa, which currently is the subject of intense
scientific interest because of the prospect that liquid water
oceans might lie beneath its icy crust.
The toy marks the second time Mattel has partnered with JPL
for a Hot Wheels toy. Under a previous licensing agreement,
Mattel produced a Hot Wheels JPL Sojourner Mars Rover Action Pack
Set based on the Mars Pathfinder mission that landed in 1997.
Both toys came into being thanks to JPL's Technology
Affiliates program. Through the program, corporations form
alliances with JPL either to license intellectual property, as is
the case with Mattel, or to gain access to JPL's engineers and
scientists to help solve a range of technological problems. To
date, more than 120 companies, large and small, have utilized the
program to solve upwards of 200 specific technology challenges.
"The Mars rover Hot Wheels toy helped educate kids and
parents alike about the Mars Pathfinder mission in the most user-
friendly fashion imaginable," explained Joan Horvath, a business
alliance manager with JPL's Technology Affiliates Program. "Along
the way, it also helped alert the business community to the many
facets of JPL's technology transfer programs."
The Technology Affiliates program provides a streamlined way
for JPL, one of 10 NASA centers around the country, to do
business with the private sector. The payoff: Technologies
developed for the space program prove beneficial back on Earth
and -- in the case of the Mattel toys -- help educate and enthuse
the public about the space program.
"Through this long-term partnership with JPL, we continue to
demonstrate a commitment to making science and space exploration
more fun and accessible to children nationwide," said Jim Wagner,
Mattel's senior vice president of Hot Wheels marketing and
NASA's Galileo spacecraft was launched in 1989 and entered
orbit around Jupiter on December 7, 1995. During its two-year
primary mission, Galileo studied Jupiter and its four largest
moons. Mission scientists say images and other information
gathered by Galileo's science instruments have dramatically
altered our knowledge of Jupiter and its moons.
The spacecraft is now in the midst of a two-year extension,
known as the Galileo Europa Mission, with special emphasis on
studying Jupiter's moon, Europa. The presence of liquid water on
Europa would increase the odds that this icy moon may have the
conditions necessary to harbor life.
The antenna dish depicted in the Hot Wheels Jupiter/Europa
Encounter Action Pack is part of the Deep Space Network, a
worldwide network of ground stations used to communicate with
spacecraft and conduct radar and radio astronomy studies. With
three sites located in Spain, Australia and California's Mojave
Desert, the Deep Space Network can maintain 24-hour contact with
spacecraft as the Earth rotates.
JPL manages the Galileo mission for NASA's Office of Space
Science, Washington, D.C. More information on the Galileo
mission is available on the Internet at
JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of
Technology, which serves as the party of record on all patents
developed at JPL and works closely with JPL on Technology
Affiliates agreements. For further information about JPL's
Technology Affiliates program, visit its web site at
Note to Editors: Mattel Inc. Vice President John Handy will
announce details about the toy in a brief presentation at
approximately 8:25 p.m. tonight, Thursday, May 21, at Beckman
Auditorium on the Caltech campus in Pasadena as part of "A Day on
Europa" activities. Reporters are invited to attend. For details,
call John G. Watson of the JPL Media Relations Office or visit
the following Europa Day web sites: