MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIF. 91109 TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov

Contact: JPL/Gia Scafidi (818) 354-0372
       Planetary Society/Susan Lendroth (626) 793-5100 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 14, 2001

BUDDING YOUNG SCIENTISTS SET THEIR SIGHTS ON MARTIAN SOIL

       For the first time ever, student scientists will direct a camera on board NASA's Mars Global Surveyor, currently orbiting the red planet, and image interesting sites on the Martian terrain.

       Nine students, ranging in age from 10 to 15, were selected from more than 10,000 entrants worldwide to serve on the Planetary Society's weeklong Red Rover Goes to Mars Training Mission. As mission members, the group works with imaging data from the Global Surveyor spacecraft, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., to choose a candidate landing site for a possible future Martian sample return mission. (The chosen site will be imaged once the spacecraft reaches that particular region of the planet.) In addition, under the supervision of Drs. Michael Malin and Ken Edgett of Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, Calif., the students will image three interesting Martian sites with Global Surveyor's Mars Orbiter Camera.

       The students' achievements and findings will be announced at a student press conference at LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, Calif. on Feb. 16.

       "We're really beginning to expand opportunities for the public -- and for students in particular -- to participate directly in Mars exploration," said Michelle Viotti, lead for the Mars Public Engagement Program at JPL. "It's all about sharing the adventure, and it's exciting, because some of these students might even end up playing major roles in NASA missions one day."

       The students, representing Brazil, Hungary, India, Poland, Taiwan and the United States, were chosen through an essay contest from a group of 80 semi-finalists. Information about the students and their training mission is available at http://planetary.org .

       The Planetary Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars project is conducted in cooperation with NASA and JPL. JPL manages NASA's Mars Global Surveyor mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C., and Malin Space Science Systems built and operates the Mars Orbiter Camera. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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2/14/01 GNS
2001-034