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To MARS with MER - About ABOUT

"To MARS with MER" Project Overview
"To MARS with MER" (TMwM) is not "your usual science documentary," new knowledge recollected in tranquility from the perspective of a formal press conference. Instead, the project's integrated multiple media present fascinating new science, along with cutting-edge engineering and high technology, through compelling human stories-captured fly-on-the-wall style-of the diverse, young team that's been working around the clock to design, build and test the twin rovers and get ready to operate them on Mars. Science and technology come to life through engaging characters confronting challenges more authentic and more high risk than any seen in "reality TV."

A suite of three primetime broadcasts-structured around key milestones in the design, development, integration, test, launch, cruise, landing and surface operations of the rovers-will captivate general audiences. Some sequences from the primetime programs will be reconfigured, and new live and interactive elements will be added, to create three companion LIVE FROM MARS-style broadcast specials to be distributed by satellite to science museums and planetariums hosting local events for youth and adult audiences. Targeted outreach to inner city youngsters, in Chicago during a carefully-evaluated year 1 pilot project and more broadly in year 2, will be developed in association with DePaul University's Space Science Center for Education and Outreach. TMwM will leverage existing support for the Boulder, CO, Space Science Institute's MarsQuest traveling exhibit, MarsQuest Online, and Destination Mars to offer video and interactive opportunities to small to medium-sized science centers and planetariums which otherwise have difficulty supporting "Current Science" opportunities. TMwM and SSI will jointly offer regional workshops for museum educators to enhance their ability to transform breaking national science news into local events designed to involve visitors in unique community opportunities, such as star parties focusing on Mars. Collaborations with NASA and its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (part of the California Institute of Technology) will give access to the latest science and engineering data from Mars.

Behind the Screens
The production is headed by Geoff Haines-Stiles, who was one of the producer/directors of Carl Sagan's Emmy- and Peabody-award winning COSMOS, and who is co-creator of the ongoing LIVE FROM series, appearing on public television and NASA-TV. Another member of the production team, Rudy Gaskins, won an Emmy for NBC's personality profiles during the 2000 Summer Olympics. The third producer/director, Erna Akuginow, wrote and produced programs for the award-winning PBS series, CHILDHOOD, which included reports on how young people learn, formally and informally, in America and internationally. The production team has unrivaled familiarity with NASA and JPL, based on its coverage of Pathfinder and other Mars missions. TMwM has already secured nearly 100 hours of digital video, beginning in mid-2001.

TMwM's Advisory Board includes Bruce Murray, the former head of NASA JPL during the highly successful Viking missions to Mars in 1976; and Donna Shirley, leader of the team that developed the Sojourner rover, and now Assistant Dean of Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. Ms. Shirley will also serve as a Senior Consultant, reviewing the development of science and engineering content for the project. Additional Advisors include the nation's leading space journalist, Leonard David; GWU's John Logsdon, widely admired for his analysis of policy issues and public perceptions of space issues; Dan Maas, developer of the innovative animation "starring" the Mars Exploration Rovers (and created when he was a 19-year undergraduate!), and Isabel Hawkins, a member of the American Astronomical Society's Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy.