Students to Release First Mars Image, Science Findings from Next Generation


A new generation of Mars student scientists will release their first results at a press briefing scheduled for noon EST (10 a.m. Arizona Time) on Wednesday, March 20 at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University.

Eighteen students, including 11 sixth and seventh graders from Danvers, Illinois, and 7 high school students from Nogales, Arizona, will talk about their experiences and show their results as the first of thousands of participants in NASA's Mars Student Imaging Project. The project is a NASA-funded science education program that allows elementary, middle and high school classes to do real-life planetary exploration and study using NASA's Mars Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) visible light camera.

Briefing participants will include:

* Students and teachers from Nogales High School in Nogales, Arizona, who will be currently engaged in an investigation to acquire an image and will discuss their science objectives.

* Students and teachers from Olympia School District in Danvers, Illinois, who will present an image acquired during their ongoing investigation, and will discuss their preliminary research findings.

* Dr. Philip Christensen, Korrick Professor of Geological Sciences at ASU and principal investigator for THEMIS.

* Sheri Klug, Director of ASU's Mars Education Program.

An expanded view of student experiences in the imaging program will also be aired in a one hour show on NASA's "Live from Mars" at 1 p.m. EST (11 a.m. Arizona Time) on March 19. The program, which is broadcast into thousands of classrooms nationwide, will provide an overview of the student imaging program and capture the live experiences of the Olympia School District students in the process of acquiring their image.

The Mars Education Program is an outreach activity of ASU, developed initially in connection with research activities involving the Thermal Emission Spectrometer experiment on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The program operates the Mars Student Imaging Project with funding from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. JPL manages the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission for NASA's Office of Space Science in Washington. Principal investigators at Arizona State University in Tempe, the University of Arizona in Tucson and the Johnson Space Center, Houston , operate the science instruments. Additional science investigators are located at the Russian Space Research institute and Los Alamos National Laboratories, New Mexico.

Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project, and developed and built the orbiter. Mission operations are conducted jointly from Lockheed Martin and from JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Additional information about the 2001 Mars Odyssey is available on the Internet at:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey/

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