Spanish-speaking space fans can hitch a ride via the
Internet on an orbiting space observatory, thanks to the
first-ever Spanish-language web site tied to a NASA mission.

The newly unveiled web site for NASA’s Space Infrared
Telescope Facility (SIRTF) can be accessed from the main SIRTF
homepage at . It delivers in Spanish
the latest news about the SIRTF mission, its scientific
background, an infrared astronomy tutorial, and other
educational activities. The mission, launching in 2002, will
study the early universe and hunt for planet-forming regions
around nearby stars.

The new web site will be updated monthly, with more
frequent updates planned closer to launch. Visitors to the
site will be able to submit questions and receive answers in
Spanish. Additional NASA Spanish-language web sites are
anticipated in the near future.

“The Spanish-language Internet user population is growing
very fast, and it will be a really great chance to reach
people with this web site,” said Marisa Eisenberg, who
initially created the new Spanish-language site. “This is an
opportunity to help open that community to science, astronomy
and space exploration.”

Eisenberg, a 20-year-old UCLA student majoring in
cybernetics — a mix of computer science, medicine and
robotics — was born in Houston, Tex., and grew up in
Glendale, Calif., where her mother was a bilingual teacher.
Although Eisenberg learned to speak fluent Spanish at home,
she picked up new scientific terms as a student intern for
SIRTF at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center in
Pasadena, operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the
California Institute of Technology, both in Pasadena.

“I think the web site reaches beyond the Latino community
for a larger population of Spanish-speaking individuals,” said
Dr. Albert Noriega, a scientist with SIRTF. “Those in the
United States will benefit immediately from this web site, but
it should benefit Spanish speakers all over the world.”

SIRTF is the fourth and final mission under NASA’s Great
Observatories Program, which includes the Hubble Space
Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Chandra
Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility. SIRTF is also the first
new mission of NASA’s Origins Program, which will study the
formation of galaxies, stars, planets and life and seek to
answer the questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone?

JPL manages SIRTF for NASA’s Office of Space Science,
Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California
Institute of Technology.