Spanish-speaking space fans can hitch a ride via the Internet on an orbiting space observatory, thanks to the first-ever Spanish-language web site tied to a NASA mission.
The newly unveiled web site for NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) can be accessed from the main SIRTF homepage at http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/ . It delivers in Spanish the latest news about the SIRTF mission, its scientific background, an infrared astronomy tutorial, and other educational activities. The mission, launching in 2002, will study the early universe and hunt for planet-forming regions around nearby stars.
The new web site will be updated monthly, with more frequent updates planned closer to launch. Visitors to the site will be able to submit questions and receive answers in Spanish. Additional NASA Spanish-language web sites are anticipated in the near future.
"The Spanish-language Internet user population is growing very fast, and it will be a really great chance to reach people with this web site," said Marisa Eisenberg, who initially created the new Spanish-language site. "This is an opportunity to help open that community to science, astronomy and space exploration."
Eisenberg, a 20-year-old UCLA student majoring in cybernetics -- a mix of computer science, medicine and robotics -- was born in Houston, Tex., and grew up in Glendale, Calif., where her mother was a bilingual teacher. Although Eisenberg learned to speak fluent Spanish at home, she picked up new scientific terms as a student intern for SIRTF at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center in Pasadena, operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, both in Pasadena.
"I think the web site reaches beyond the Latino community for a larger population of Spanish-speaking individuals," said Dr. Albert Noriega, a scientist with SIRTF. "Those in the United States will benefit immediately from this web site, but it should benefit Spanish speakers all over the world."
SIRTF is the fourth and final mission under NASA's Great Observatories Program, which includes the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Chandra Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility. SIRTF is also the first new mission of NASA's Origins Program, which will study the formation of galaxies, stars, planets and life and seek to answer the questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone?
JPL manages SIRTF for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.
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