Dr. Charles Elachi and students wear 3-D glasses
Students at a San Fernando Valley elementary school heard firsthand about their opportunity to participate in the president's bold vision for exploring the solar system.

On Thursday, Feb. 20, Dr. Charles Elachi, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., visited Shirley Avenue Elementary School in Reseda, Calif., to share his insights on the current Mars rover missions and NASA's new direction for human and robotic exploration. Richard Cook, project manager for the Mars Exploration Rover mission and astronaut Dr. Michael Barratt also visited the school and met with students.

"The recent success of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers has captured the imagination of the entire world, and they have been especially inspiring to younger Americans," said Dr. Elachi. "Robotic exploration is one part of a far grander vision of robotic and human space exploration that's been put forth by the president. NASA's task is to turn this vision into reality. Inspiring the next generation of explorers is a critical element of this vision, because these students will be the ones who may very well be the first to step foot on Mars."

Shirley Avenue Elementary School is a part of NASA's Explorer Schools program, a three-year partnership of scientific and engineering adventures to engage students using unique NASA resources and capabilities. The program’s goal is to inspire students to pursue careers in science, mathematics and technology, so that they can become the nation's space explorers and forward thinkers of tomorrow.

"We were extremely excited to have the Mars mission manager and director of JPL visit our school to share what NASA's vision for the future of space exploration holds for our students," said Principal Steve Friedman of Shirley Avenue Elementary School. "The visit gives us the opportunity to show how we have incorporated the NASA program into our curriculum and how we have used current events to excite students about Mars exploration."

For information about the Mars Exploration Rover Mission, visit: http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov

For information about the NASA Explorer Schools program, visit: http://explorerschools.nasa.gov

For information about the president's new vision for space exploration visit: http://www.nasa.gov/missions/solarsystem/bush_vision.html

For information about NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov

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