Montage of our solar system

Space exploration and the missions conducted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are being honored as part of a Rose Parade float called "Soaring to the Future," due to roll down the streets of Pasadena on New Year's Day 2000.

Riding on the Edison International float entry will be JPL Director Dr. Ed Stone, Richard Cook of JPL's Mars exploration program, NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle, M.D., and several Southern California science students.

"Soaring to the Future" was conceived by Edison International as a floral tribute to Southern Californians who have helped put humans on the Moon and robotic craft into space. Designed in cooperation with JPL and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, the 16.7-meter (55-foot), all- electric float features a large eagle -- a symbol of power and strength -- and a red planet, symbolizing Mars. The entry also includes elaborate "floralgraphs" portraying the history of space exploration.

"We salute the women and men of JPL for helping to increase our knowledge of the solar system," said Hector De La Torre, Edison's float project manager. "We wanted our float to pay tribute to the many women and men from Southern California who have contributed to America's space program."

Cagle, Stone, and Cook will be joined by Southern California science students: Caltech's Clinton Conley of Orange County, Calif., Somer Scott of Sonora High School, Whittier, and Smith Sirisakorn, a California Academy of Math and Science Academy student from Hawthorne.

The Edison International float will be powered by solar- charged electric batteries, making it the world's largest electric vehicle. By New Year's Eve, more than 3,500 volunteers, including many JPL employees and their families, will have donated more than 25,000 hours of their time to decorate the float.

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