MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – NASA scientists and teachers will step back in time as they investigate the Mojave Desert to study the unique geologic formations and the supremely adapted microbes that call it home. On March 28, 2007, news media representatives are invited to join the expedition.

The search for these extremophiles is one component of a five-day science research expedition by NASA scientists and 40 teachers as part of the Spaceward Bound project at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. Leading the expedition is Chris McKay, a NASA Ames planetary scientist with extensive experience in field work in extreme environments.

Spaceward Bound Media Day

Who: NASA planetary scientist Chris McKay, NASA scientists and teachers
What: Spaceward Bound Media Day
When: March 28, 2007, 7:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. PDT.
Where: California State University Desert Research Station at Zzyzx, Calif.


7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. PDT: Launch of hot air balloon with remote-sensing equipment to detect subterranean formations.
9:00 a.m. – 10.00 a.m. PDT: Interview sessions with NASA scientists and teachers
10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. PDT: Tour of scientific research sites with scientists and teachers in action.

The Mojave’s inhospitable, sun-scorched environment presents scientists with opportunities to study environments that are similar to what explorers will find on the moon and Mars.

Also on March 28, teachers and students around the world can follow the action on the Spaceward Bound website via daily mission logs and image captures. The team will hold two one-hour webcasts, in English and Spanish. The first webcast, in English, will begin at 9:00 a.m. PDT, followed by the Spanish webcast at 10:00 a.m. PDT.

For more information, interview requests or directions to the California State University Desert Research Station at Zzyzx, Calif., contact Jonas Dino at 650-207-3280.

The Education Division at Ames developed the Spaceward Bound: Mojave educational program in partnership with the Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas, Nev., and San Jose State University, Calif., to train the next generation of space explorers. Previous Spaceward Bound expeditions include the exploration of the Mars-like soils in the Atacama desert in northern Chile and two week-long, immersive, full-scale simulations of living and working on the moon and Mars at the Mars Desert Research Station in the Utah desert.

The Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters, Washington, funds the Spaceward Bound project, which continues the agency’s tradition of investing in the nation’s education programs. The project is tied directly to the agency’s major education goal of engaging Americans in NASA’s mission. NASA is committed to building strategic partnerships and linkages between formal and informal education providers of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as STEM). Through hands-on, interactive educational activities, NASA is engaging students, educators, families, the general public and all agency stakeholders to increase Americans’ science and technology literacy.

For more information about the NASA Spaceward Bound Project, visit:

For more information about the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, visit: