Press Release

NASA’s comet tour challenges teachers and students to enter contest

By SpaceRef Editor
February 5, 2002
Filed under , ,

ITHACA, N.Y. — NASA’s Contour space mission and Cornell University
are challenging students and their teachers in the United States to
participate in the spacecraft’s forthcoming exploration of comets.

They are being invited to participate in the Cornell and Contour
Comet Challenge, with the grand prize for the winners a trip to
Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Florida, to witness
the launch of the spacecraft scheduled for July 1. The NASA mission,
officially the Comet Nucleus Tour, is being managed by the Applied
Physics Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University, with Cornell’s
Department of Astronomy leading the international science team.

As part of Cornell’s educational outreach for the mission, students
and their teachers are being challenged to devise a program to
educate and involve their communities about Contour’s goal to study
at least two comets as they travel through the inner solar system.
The spacecraft will provide the closest look ever at a comet’s nucleus.

The teams submitting the two winning programs — one in grades 5
through 8 and one in grades 9 through 12 — will be invited to attend
four days of launch-related activities, including interviews with
mission scientists and engineers, at Kennedy Space Center. Each team
will be allowed a budget of up to $1,000 for its educational program.
The winning teams, each consisting of a teacher and a student, will
be chosen by a panel of educators and scientists on the basis of the
originalityyAg feasibility of the submitted plans.

Students don’t need a lot of background knowledge either on Contour
or about comets to participate in the program, explains Laura Lautz,
the mission’s education and public outreach coordinator at Cornell.
“The key is, they need to be curious,” she says. Beyond that, the
teachers and students can develop any kind of presentation they
choose: a program in conjunction with a local museum, a web-based
program or even a video. Students will be encouraged to speak in
public and to write articles for local or student newspapers. As
well as the two winning teams, two teams from each state will be
chosen to receive a kit of Contour materials so that they can follow
through with their plans to share the mission’s comet exploration
with their communities. These teams also will be able to watch the
launch on their computers via Web streaming, and to ask questions of
mission scientists following the launch. For more information on the
space mission and how to enter the competition, go on line to

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide
additional information on this news release. Some might not be part
of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over
their content or availability.

Cornell Department of Astronomy:

NASA Discovery Program:


The web version of this release, with accompanying photos, may be
found at

SpaceRef staff editor.