NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will be conducting a week- long series of field tests in May with its next-generation rover, called Rocky 7. To engage students in this exciting NASA activity, the Rocky 7 team is seeking international participation by middle and secondary schools interested in remotely driving the rover during one of the tests on May 30.

Four to six classrooms which have the necessary computer hardware and software capabilities to participate in the testing will be selected. The students will collaborate to plan command sequences which will be sent to the rover for execution. The students will be able to see the rover exploring specified locations and performing tasks such as digging and placing an instrument mounted to its 1.5-meter (5-foot) mast against a rock.

"The purpose of these tests is to demonstrate how scientists around the world will collaborate in future Mars rover missions to plan daily rover activities," said Dr. Paul Backes, rover ground system cognizant engineer. "The test will also demonstrate how mission information will be made available to the general public. Anyone on the Internet will be able to see the plan that the students generate and, then, be able to watch the rover performing the tasks."

Schools must submit a letter of interest, along with a checklist of their computer hardware and software capabilities, to Dr. Cheick Diarra, via email at, or by fax, 818-393-6800, or by U.S.mail to Cheick Diarra, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Mail Stop 180-401, Pasadena, Calif., 91109. All letters must be received no later than April 18.

Those classes selected to participate in the test will be notified by May 5. Selection will be based on the following computer hardware, software and technical support requirements:

- Computers must be either Pentium-class personal computers with 32-megabytes of memory or Sun UNIX computers, using a minimum of Sparc 20 and running Solaris operating systems;

- Monitors must be at least 17-inch color monitors with 1024 by 768 resolution;

- The preferred Internet connection should be an ISDN (integrated services digital network) connection, but a 28.8K modem is sufficient;

- The Web browser should be, at minimum, Netscape Navigator 3.0 or Internet Explorer 3.0 supporting Java applications.

Schools must also be able to provide on-site technical support during the tests and be able to set up their computer networks about three weeks before the May 30 test. Preferably, schools should have at least two computers in the classroom to allow several students to participate at the same time.

The Rocky 7 rover development is led by Dr. Samad Hayati and supported by JPL's Robotics and Mars Exploration Technology Program Office for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C.

More information about the Rocky 7 development and the May field testing can be obtained on the World Wide Web at:

Further information about student participation in the May testing is available at: studentOps/.

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