An international team of nine students — aged 10 – 16 years old — made
planetary exploration history this week when they directed a camera aboard
the NASA Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft to image several sites on
Mars. The members of The Planetary Society’s Red Rover Goes to Mars
Training Mission team and scientists from Malin Space Science Systems,
which built and operates the camera on MGS, will release three of the Mars
images today at a press conference at LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad,

The Student Scientists, who were selected from over ten thousand entrants
worldwide, include four girls and five boys who hail from across the globe:
Brazil, Hungary, India, Poland, Taiwan, and the United States.

During their week in southern California, the Student Scientists worked at
Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego to select several sites on Mars to
image. The team imaged three sites that coincided with the MGS spacecraft’s
orbital position this week. Another site was selected as a candidate
landing site for a possible sample return mission. That image will be taken
when the MGS spacecraft’s orbit takes it past the target area some time in
the next five months. Michael Malin, Ken Edgett, and Becky Williams of
Malin Space Science Systems personally supervised the Student Scientists.

The Student Scientists captured three fascinating images of Mars during
their stint at Malin Space Science Systems. The diverse selection includes
images of alluvial fan material, with evidence of possible flowing water;
the layered terrain of the polar ice cap; and an area in the middle
latitudes of Mars that features dunes, valleys and mysterious black
boulders–how the boulders got to this area is a puzzle scientists have
still to work out.

All of the images, along with accompanying captions and information, can be
seen on the Malin Space Science Systems website at

Ken Edgett will present the findings of the Student Scientists at a Student
Press Conference at LEGOLAND California on Friday, January 16, 2001. The
Planetary Society and LEGOLAND California have invited local elementary and
middle school students to attend the Student Press Conference as media
representatives from their schools.

LEGO is a principal sponsor of the Red Rover Goes to Mars project of the
Society, which is being conducted in cooperation with NASA and the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory. No government funding is used for this educational

The winners are Zsofia Bodo, 16, Hungary; Kimberly DeRose, 14, USA;
Bernadett Gaal, 14, Hungary; Shaleen Harlalka, 15, India; Iuri Jasper, 12,
Brazil; Hsin-Liu Kao, 11, Taiwan; Tanmay Khirwadkar, 13, India; Wojciech
Lukasik, 10, Poland; and Vikas Sarangadhara, 10, India.

These young people were chosen from a field of 80 semi-finalists, who
represented 16 nations. Forty-four nations are participating in the contest.

Daily reports about the Red Rover Goes to Mars Training Mission are
available on The Planetary Society’s website at



The Red Rover Goes to Mars program is an outgrowth of the Red Rover, Red
Rover program — a joint development of The Planetary Society, the Center
for Self-Organizing and Intelligent Systems at Utah State University,
Visionary Products, Inc., and the LEGO Company. Using computers linked
through the Internet, students teleoperate robotic rovers built from LEGO
Dacta components. Over 400 Red Rover, Red Rover sites are already
established in classrooms and science centers worldwide.

Red Rover Goes to Mars is sponsored by The Planetary Society and the LEGO
Company, with Liberte Yogurt of Canada, Science Magazine, and the AAAS
Directorate for Education and Human Resources, in cooperation with NASA,
the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Malin Space Science Systems, ASU Mars K-12
Education Program, and Visionary Products, Inc., and with the support of
Varig Airlines and Sundance Stage Lines, Inc. The LEGO Company has been a
principal partner with The Planetary Society in the development of Red
Rover, Red Rover.


Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society
in 1980 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 Society is the largest space interest group in the world.


LEGOLAND California is a 128-acre family theme park dedicated to families
with children aged 3 to 12. Just like with LEGO toys, kids are the ones who
make things happen at the Park. They drive, pedal, squirt, climb, jump,
stomp, slide, steer, pull, click, push, gallop, laugh, build and program
their way through more than 40 rides and attractions. There are only two
other LEGOLAND parks in the world — LEGOLAND® Billund in Denmark, and
LEGOLAND® Windsor outside of London. A fourth LEGOLAND is under
construction near Güüüünzburg, Germany, and is scheduled to open in 2002.
LEGOLAND California is part of Global Family Attractions, a division of the
LEGO Company.


Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS) designs, develops, and operates
instruments that fly on robotic spacecraft. MSSS is currently operating the
Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) aboard the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft,
in orbit about Mars since September 1997. The company provided the visible
camera for the 2001 Mars Odyssey and had instruments aboard the lost Mars
Observer, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, and cancelled Mars
Surveyor 2001 lander. The company’s work in Mars exploration was featured
in recent issues of Aviation Week (December 11, 2000) and National
Geographic (February 2001).



For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact Susan
Lendroth at (626)793-5100.


Kina Paegert (760) 918-5377 or Meike Refardt (760) 918-5511