Space artist David Seal's colorful depiction of Mars and the next pair of spacecraft to explore its atmosphere and icy southern pole has been selected as the project insignia for NASA's 1998 Mars Polar Lander and Mars Climate Orbiter mission.

The logo carries the inscription, "Unlocking Mars' history," in a bold gothic font, highlighting the scientific theme of the 1998 mission. On opposite sides of this triangular decal are the polar lander and next-generation Mars orbiter, which are set to launch from Cape Canaveral, FL, in late December 1998 and early January 1999.

"The central idea of this insignia is shown in the globe of Mars, which is split down the middle to depict what Mars may have looked like in the past (on the left) and what it looks like today (on the right)," said Seal, a systems engineer in the Mission Design Group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA. "This illustrates the science objectives of the mission, which are to study the history of Mars' climate and the behavior of related volatiles, such as water vapor and ground ice."

Seal, who holds a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has designed many of NASA's spaceflight mission insignias, including the Mars Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor and Cassini mission logos. His computer-generated graphics have also appeared in numerous magazines, including Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, Science, Space News and Newsweek.

Since joining JPL in 1991, Seal, 29, has worked on projects such as the Cassini mission to Saturn and the Shuttle Radar Topography mission. A resident of La Crescenta, CA, he specializes in orbital design, systems engineering and computer programming.

The Mars Polar Lander and Mars Climate Orbiter are the second set of launches in a long-term program of Mars exploration known as the Mars Surveyor Program. The mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, CO, is NASA's industry partner in the mission.

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