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International Student Team Selected to Work in Mars Rover Mission Operations

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Old November 7th 03, 05:56 PM
Ron Baalke
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Default International Student Team Selected to Work in Mars Rover Mission Operations


International Student Team Selected to Work in Mars Rover Mission Operations
The Planetary Society
November 6, 2003:

The Planetary Society has chosen sixteen Student Astronauts to work
with the Mars Exploration Rover team at NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory when the twin rovers touch down on Mars in January 2004.

The Student Astronauts are part of The Planetary Society's Red
Rover Goes to Mars project, run in partnership with the LEGO
Company. The project is an official part of NASA's Mars Exploration
Rover mission.

The young people -- eight boys, eight girls, aged 13 to 17 -- won
their places on the team through a Planetary Society run essay
contest, followed by oral interviews. This is the first time that
an international group of children selected through an open
competition will be able to participate in an active planetary
spacecraft mission. It complements NASA student programs that
encourage the next generation of explorers to pursue science,
technology, engineering, and math interests by promoting the spirit
of international cooperation in discovery.

The winning students hail from twelve nations spread through five
continents: Brazil, Canada, Hungary, India, Poland, Singapore,
South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the
United States.

"We set out looking for the 'right stuff' and we got it," said
Bruce Betts, The Planetary Society's Director of Projects. "The
sixteen extraordinary kids who will be interacting with the Mars
Exploration Rover mission team represent, and will communicate
with, a whole world of young space enthusiasts."

"Space exploration has the ability to stimulate creativity, expand
the imagination, and push back the limits of what is possible for
an entire generation. That is why the LEGO Company joined forces
with The Planetary Society and we are delighted by the response
this project has received from young people," said Brad Justus of
the LEGO Company.

Student Astronauts will work with the scientists and engineers
overseeing the science payload on the Mars Exploration Rovers,
including the panoramic cameras and the magnets, and will analyze
new data returned from the rovers. The Student Astronauts will
rotate through JPL in teams of two, with each pair spending
approximately one week at the facility.

For a few months of the mission, the students will participate
every Martian day in examining pictures from the rovers and
attending team meetings with scientists and engineers, grappling
with choices about what orders to send the rovers. The Student
Astronauts will also serve as ambassadors to the world at large,
communicating over the Internet and through other media about life
inside a Mars mission team.

The individual interests of the Student Astronauts are as diverse
as their backgrounds, ranging from fencing to soccer and theater to
violin. However, they all share a common bond in their fascination
with space exploration and commitment to high achievement.

"I can't think of anything more amazing than exploring space and
other planets," said Student Astronaut Courtney Dressing of the

The Student Astronaut Team:

Saatvik Agarwal (14) India
Shih-Han Chen (17) Taiwan
Cheng-Tao Chung (13) Taiwan
Janice deBerg (15) USA
Susini de Silva (17) Sri Lanka
Courtney Dressing (15) USA
Abigail Fraeman (16) USA
Maciej Hermanowicz (16) Poland
Tomas Kogan (14) Spain
Nomathemba Kontyo (15) South Africa
Wei Lin Tan (14) Singapore
Rafael Morozowski (16) Brazil
Vignan Pattamatta (14) India
Kristyn Rodzinyak (16) Canada
David Turczi (15) Hungary
Camillia Zedan (16) United Kingdom

Honorable Mention Winners:

Ching-Tsung Wei (15) Taiwan
Juan Colmenares (14) Venezuela
Pedro de Freitas (13) Venezuela
Soren Nielsen (16) Denmark
Afzal Saif (16) India
Roshan Shankar (13) India
Carmen Vasquez (14) USA

In the words of Maciej Hermanowicz of Poland, "Exploring the
unknown is a wonderful adventure and a huge new experience, and I
simply cannot wait to taste it."

We look forward to following the adventure of Mars exploration
through the eyes of these 16 extraordinary young people.

Personal essays by and about all the winning students are available
on The Planetary Society's website at



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