Ever since the first spacecraft rocketed beyond Earth, children around the world have dreamed of exploring space. The LEGO Company and The Planetary Society, the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration of our solar system, are about to make that dream come true.
These organizations have partnered with NASA to sponsor an ambitious program that allows children to play an integral, hands-on role in NASA's upcoming Mars Exploration Rover-2003 mission, which is set to explore Mars in early 2004.
This joint initiative, called Red Rover Goes to Mars, provides an exciting opportunity for students to participate in a robotic planetary exploration mission. The project was announced yesterday in Houston at a Press Conference held at the World Space Congress.
The winning team of Student Astronauts will work directly with the sundial and magnet teams. Selected Student Astronauts will rotate through JPL in teams of two, with each team spending approximately one week at the facility.
They will also serve as ambassadors to the world at large, communicating over the Internet and through other media both about what they learn about Mars and about life inside mission operations with the scientists and engineers.
The Red Rover Goes to Mars Student Astronaut contest is open to young people worldwide. To enter the essay contest, students must be born between September 1, 1986 and September 1, 1990. For complete contest rules and registration information, go to
"The students of today are the explorers of tomorrow," says Planetary Society Director of Projects, Bruce Betts. "This is why The Planetary Society is working so hard to involve and excite them now about the exploration of Mars."
DVDs on Mars Landers
The Planetary Society and LEGO Company are also producing two DVDs that will be mounted on the two Mars Exploration Rover-2003 landers. Each DVD will carry millions of names, and people around the world are encouraged to send their names to Mars by signing up at NASA.
"We're honored to be partnering with The Planetary Society and NASA to stimulate kids' interest in space exploration," said Brad Justus, Senior Vice President of the LEGO Company. "Over the next 18 months we will be unveiling many programs that support this goal. The mini-robot featured on the DVD face will help communicate the story of the Mars mission from the point of view of a child."
Red Rover Goes to Mars
Mars Exploration Rover-2003 mission
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Doubts Over Mars 2003 Rover Duo
Los Angeles - Sep 16, 2002
With launch only eight months from now, there are continuing technical problems with NASA's twin 2003 Mars Exploration Rovers that could possibly delay the arrival of one or both rovers at Mars until 2008.
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