Montage of our solar system

Want to guide others on an armchair adventure to the moons of Jupiter and the surface of Mars?

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., is inviting applications from space enthusiasts nationwide for the Solar System Ambassador program. The program brings together motivated volunteers from across the nation with top space scientists and engineers to help tell the public about exciting solar system discoveries and future explorations.

Applications for year 2002 ambassadors will be accepted during the month of September 2001. Final selections will be announced in December.

"We now have 206 ambassadors in 47 states, and they come from a variety of backgrounds, from teachers to retirees to amateur astronomers," said JPL's Kay Ferrari, coordinator of the program. The first session next year focuses on Europa - a moon of Jupiter thought to have an ocean beneath its icy crust. JPL's Europa Orbiter mission is being planned to discover whether such an ocean really exists.

Online information is available about the Solar System Ambassador program at .

The Solar System Ambassador program equips volunteers to arrange public events such as lectures, star parties, community displays and library appearances. Through these events, ambassadors share fresh findings about planetary exploration and news about technology developments from the space program that are used on Earth.

Mike Obland, a graduate student who volunteers as a Solar System Ambassador in Bozeman, Mont., said, "I think space exploration is important, and this is a good way to keep up with all the latest happenings and get information about them to the public."

Deanna Walvatne, an ambassador who teaches high school science in Waverly, Iowa, said when she presents space-exploration programs, people of all ages seem hungry for the information. "A lot of people are interested in the missions to different parts of the solar system, but don't know much about them," she said. Pictures and posters provided by JPL, as well as opportunities for contacts with mission scientists and engineers, help her satisfy the public's interest, she said.

Ferrari said, "The ideal candidate is a space enthusiast who is active in his or her community. Solar System Ambassadors agree to arrange, conduct and report a minimum of four space-related events during their calendar year of service and participate in training sessions via the Internet." Ambassadors may renew their applications during subsequent years and will be accepted based upon their reporting and training records.

For more information about the Solar System Ambassadors program, contact the coordinator, Kay Ferrari, at or (818) 354-7581.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Current Solar System Ambassadors are listed at . Guy Webster, at (818) 354-6278, can help you contact them.

News Media Contact

JPL/Guy Webster (818) 354-6278