Young artists from the Academia de Arte Yepes in East Los Angeles will present a dramatic and colorful painting of the Roman god Mars as he rides across space in a horse-drawn chariot to members of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in honor of the space program's return to the red planet this week.

The students, ages 11-16, will present the 12-by-20-foot mural to JPL Director Dr. Edward C. Stone, Norman Haynes, manager of the Mars Exploration Directorate at JPL and Donna Shirley, manager of the Mars Exploration Program Office at JPL. The brief ceremony begins at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Spaceport Central, located inside Spaceport USA at the NASA Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, FL.

The mural, entitled "Mars: Leading Students of the New Millennium," was created to encourage greater science literacy among the nation's youth. The mural depicts the Roman god Mars reaching out of the mural with his right hand as a gesture to join him in this voyage of exploration. His left hand holds the reins of a team of multi-colored horses, which symbolize ethnic diversity, pulling his space chariot across a super-imposed rendition of the Orion nebula, where stars are born. Leading the team of horses is the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, which is on a polar approach to the red planet, passing by its two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos. Mars Global Surveyor is set for launch aboard a Delta II rocket at 9:11 a.m. Pacific time Wednesday, Nov. 6, from launch pad 17 A at Cape Canaveral.

The students, their parents and Academia director George Yepes were able to travel to Cape Canaveral with partial support from public donations raised after Los Angeles television station KCAL Channel 9 broadcast a feature on a Cassini mural presented to the Laboratory in 1995 by the Academia to honor the upcoming Cassini mission to Saturn. The Cassini mural hangs prominently in JPL's von Karman Auditorium.

Dr. Cheick Diarra, educational outreach director in the Mars Exploration Program Office at JPL, and a team of technical members worked closely with the group of six students to furnish scientific data and information to assist them in their artistic endeavor. The students hail from the following Los Angeles area schools: Bloomington High School, Ramona Convent High School, Montebello High School, St. Mary's School and Salesian High School.

The Mars mural will remain at Kennedy Space Center through December and launch of NASA's second 1996 robotic mission to Mars -- known as Mars Pathfinder -- before it is returned to its permanent home at JPL.

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