Press Release

Not Your Typical “Rock” Tour: Mars Rocks With Marsapalooza!

By SpaceRef Editor
November 10, 2003
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What in the world is Marsapalooza?

Marsapalooza, part of NASA’s Mars 2004 (“M2K4”) effort to promote the Mars Exploration Rovers mission and NASA Mars education initiatives, is a tour during which a team of youthful scientists and engineers (the “M-Team”) will visit five cities across the country to raise public literacy about the Mars mission, to reach out to students in underserved communities, and to present themselves as role models to inspire the next generation of explorers. The tour is the product of a unique partnership involving NASA, the National Science Foundation, Passport to Knowledge, and several museums, planetariums, and science centers across the country.

The kickoff event for Marsapalooza will be held on December 2nd in New York City at the American Museum of Natural History. The tour, the partnership’s take on Lollapalooza, a concept introduced by alternative rock group Jane’s Addiction’s front man Perry Farrell as slang for “something or someone striking or unusual”, hopes to capture the spirit of a true rock concert tour. Marsapalooza will come complete with special lighting, a video, and its own musical soundtrack, while communicating the message to young people that science and math are cool.

M-Team members Jim Rice, Deborah Bass, Zoe Learner, Kobie Boykins, Adam Steltzner, and Shonte Wright, a diverse group of scientists and engineers, will represent the Mars Exploration Rovers mission team. Marsapalooza will begin in New York City, proceed to the Naval Observatory in Washington on December 3, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago on December 4, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science on December 6, and will wrap up at a special, yet-to-be-announced location in Los Angeles on December 8. The public will have a chance in each city to meet with the M-Team, and K-12 students will have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities and demonstrations related to the science of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission.

The rovers, named Spirit and Opportunity, will arrive at Mars in January to examine rocks there with more tools than the much smaller rover of NASA’s 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission. One of the messages the M-Team hopes to convey about the Mars Exploration Rovers mission is how exciting and extremely challenging it is to land and operate a rover on Mars.

“Making a machine that works perfectly is always a goal, and [to see it] working on Mars is that extra little tidbit that puts it over the top. It’s the icing on the cake,” commented Kobie Boykins, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and youthful member of the M-Team. Marsapalooza gives scientists and engineers such as Kobie a chance to show the world that, both literally – the average temperature on Mars is -63 degrees Celsius! – and figuratively, nothing is “cooler” than contributing to one of the greatest space exploration missions of all time.

The kickoff event will be Web cast live at Stay tuned to the NASA Web site in the weeks to come to find out more about Marsapalooza and NASA’s own rock stars: the M-Team!

SpaceRef staff editor.