On the morning of this year’s Space Day, May 2,
David Sheppard of Carlsbad, N.M., will drive about 30 miles
north to set up a telescope for children and adults in
Artesia to safely observe dark spots on the Sun.

That evening, he’ll head the other way, south 20 miles from
Carlsbad, to aim a telescope at Jupiter, Saturn and Mars for
residents of the rural New Mexico village of Loving.

Sheppard and about 30 other volunteers in the Solar System
Ambassadors Program are planning public activities in
communities from Seattle to Puerto Rico for Space Day. NASA’s
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., coordinates the
ambassadors program to serve widespread public interest about
the discoveries and drama of robotic missions throughout the
solar system.

"I really enjoy sharing information about space with other
people," said Sheppard, a retired aerospace engineer. "We don’t
have the kinds of museums and other resources that big cities
have. It’s important to me that kids, even in these small
communities, know that they can be involved personally in space
exploration if they have the enthusiasm and drive to stick with

More than 75 partner organizations, including NASA, support
Space Day on the first Thursday in May to promote science, math
and technology education.

Angel Sanabria, a solar system ambassador and former teacher, is
planning a special Space Day program for more than 100 high school
students in Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico. He will present images
from such JPL-managed missions as the Galileo mission to Jupiter.

"The more we know about our surroundings in the solar system, the
better we understand our mother ship, Earth," Sanabria said.

Like the other 277 volunteer ambassadors, Sanabria has committed to
organizing and carrying out at least four public outreach activities
during the year. JPL provides them with educational materials and
training sessions, including contacts with mission scientists, said
JPL’s Kay Ferrari, program coordinator.

"The main reward for me is to see the students get close to the
edges of their seats and see their faces light up," Sanabria said.

Some of the ambassadors’ events in connection with Space Day will
actually happen a few days before or after May 2. Carol Lutsinger,
in Brownsville, Texas, for example, has helped organize a May 4
program, targeted for middle-school students, at the temporary
shopping-mall site of a new children’s museum for her community.
Youngsters who come to the Saturday event will make simulated
comets and learn about NASA’s Stardust mission, currently on its way
to fetch material from a comet and bring it to Earth. They will
also design posters and enact short dramas about the life cycle of

Gary Sprague, a new ambassador this year, will collaborate with the
Southern Oregon Skywatchers to set up Sun-observing telescopes
May 11 on a lawn area beside a Medford, Ore., department store.

Atholton Elementary School in Columbia, Md., where Solar System
Ambassador Mellie Lewis teaches, will hold its Space Day celebrati
on on April 29. Fifth-grade students will give presentations to
students in other grades about solar system topics that involve

U.S. Air Force retiree Norm Black, the JPL program’s ambassador in
Colorado Springs, Colo., will bring to students at Trailblazer
Elementary School a program of balloon rockets, "pop rockets" and
information about Mars missions. The pop-rocket activity, described
online at http://spaceplace.jpl.nasa.gov/rocket.htm , uses fizzing
antacid tablets to propel a small rocket built from a film canister.

More information about the Solar System Ambassadors Program is
available at

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador .

For more about Space Day, see

http://spaceday.com/ .

JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in