The Planetary Society

65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106-2301 (626) 793-5100
Fax (626)

E-mail: Web:

Release: November 18, 1999 Contact: Susan Lendroth

Join Bill Nye the Science Guy at your Computer Terminal For a Fun Webcast

Bill Nye the Science Guy joins Planetfest Online in a fun and potentially
wacky webcast at Wednesday, November 24, at 5:00 PM
PST. He will preview what’s in store when The Planetary Society’s Mars
Microphone makes landfall December 3, 1999 aboard the Mars Polar Lander
near the Martian south pole. Louis Friedman, Executive Director of the
Society, will also participate.

Planetfest Online is the internet extension of a three-day festival of
space exploration, Planetfest ’99, being held in Pasadena, California,
December 3-5. Bill Nye and astronaut Buzz Aldrin are the co-chairs of

Planetfest ’99 participants will witness updates from the Mars Polar Lander
mission on a giant 30-foot screen, via a live link-up with the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory. The event will be a celebration the whole family
can enjoy, with hands-on activities in a Child’s Universe, speakers, space
exhibits, a film festival, and holiday shopping at the Space Emporium.
Planetfest Online will webcast many of the exciting events that take place
during the festival.

The Mars Microphone may record whatever sounds there are on Mars, such as
wind, dust and electrical discharges in the Martian atmosphere as well as
noises of the spacecraft itself. The microphone can be triggered randomly
by naturally occurring sounds or it can be programmed to listen to specific
lander actions, such as when the arm digs in the soil.

The Bill Nye webcast will give participants an overview of what we hope to
hear on Mars, how the Mars Microphone works, and why Mars is such an
exciting planet to explore.

This webcast is enabled using Intel® Streaming Web Video software
integrated in RealNetwork’s RealPlayer G2, bringing you high-quality sights
and sounds from the Red Planet. Utilizing this latest internet technology,
Planetfest ’99 Online will reach the world bringing international
participation to a variety of Planetfest activities, including the NASA
link from the Mars Polar Lander as well as presentations, panels, and
debates taking place in Pasadena, California.

You will be able to hear the actual sounds of Mars, after the data from the
mission is received, at The Planetary Society’s website They will also be available at and at

The Planetary Society’s Mars Microphone is the first instrument ever funded
by a public interest organization to fly on a planetary mission. It was
developed by the University of California Berkeley’s Space Science Lab for
The Planetary Society. It sits on board the Mars Polar Lander within the
LIDAR instrument built by the Russian Space Research Institute (IKI). The
LIDAR is the first Russian instrument to fly aboard a US planetary mission.

Major sponsors for Planetfest ’99 include Touchstone Pictures’ Mission to
Mars, Oldsmobile, Intel Corporation, Cisco Systems, Inc. and LEGO.
Additional sponsors include the Norris Foundation, Space.Com, Swales
Aerospace, Raytheon, Discovery Channel, Sky Publishing, Oce Document
Printing Systems, David Brown and Abe Gomel of The Planetary Society’s New
Millennium Committee, International Services, Lockheed Martin, Radio Shack,
M & M’s ® Chocolate Candies, EarthLink, Employee Community Fund of the
Boeing Company, Epson, StarLab, Minotaur Amusements, Meade Telescope,
Motorola, MBNA, Sonic Foundry Inc., U-Haul, Community Bank, Costco
Wholesale, Smart & Final, and Steve’s InFocus Photo Lab and Portrait Studio.

For tickets to Planetfest ’99 or further information about the events
there, call toll free 1-877-PLANETS or visit The Planetary Society’s web
site at


Please contact Susan Lendroth for additional or for media credentials to
attend Planetfest ’99: telephone (626)793-5100 (ext 214), e-mail at

Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded the Society in 1979 to
advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the search for
extraterrestrial life. With 100,000 members in over 140 countries, The
Planetary Society is the largest space interest group in the world.

The Planetary Society

65 N. Catalina Ave.

Pasadena, CA 91106-2301

Tel: (626) 793-5100

Fax: (626) 793-5528