artist's concept of Mars Exploration Rover
A live interactive broadcast and webcast on May 1 will offer an advance look at NASA's plans to land two robotic geologists on Mars in January 2004 -- the Mars Exploration Rover mission.

The hour-long program beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time (10 a.m. Pacific Time) will invite students to conduct science and engineering experiments based on those of the actual mission. Viewers throughout North America will be able to interact via e-mail as 250 students do the experiments on-camera.

The program, "Countdown to Mars," will be hosted by Bill Nye the Science Guy with guests including Dr. Joy Crisp, the rovers' project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. It will feature documentary segments showing preparation of the rovers for their June launch dates and will introduce viewers to several NASA scientists, engineers and technicians who are working on the project.

The program is produced by Passport to Knowledge, with support from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and is a part of nationwide events for Space Day. It will originate live from JPL and DePaul University in Chicago. This event supports NASA's mission to inspire the next generation of explorers.

The webcast will be at and It will also be broadcast on NASA Television and participating PBS stations as the second hour of a live Space Day broadcast that begins at noon Eastern Time (9 a.m. Pacific Time). NASA Television is offered by some cable providers and is available via the AMC-2 satellite, transponder 9C, located at 85 degrees west longitude, vertical polarization, frequency 3880.0 megahertz.

For additional information about the Mars Exploration Rover mission, see JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.

News Media Contact

JPL/Guy Webster (818) 354-6278