National Tour Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, NASA, and Passport To Knowledge
Marsapalooza is a national tour designed to inspire young people with the science, engineering and human stories behind NASA's current Mars Exploration Rover mission, which will land the Spirit and Opportunity spacecraft on the Red Planet in January 2004. The tour itself will touch down in five major U.S. cities beginning December 2 through December 8 2003. Marsapalooza features a team of young scientists and engineers (the "M-Team") who will visit New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles, in a high-energy effort to engage youth and to raise public literacy about the Mars mission. Webcasts and web logs will let anyone, anywhere, come along for the fun and information of a rock concert-like tour, with the slogan, "Mars Rocks!" The M-Team will reach out to youngsters in under-served communities and act as role models to inspire the next generation of explorers. The team members are Jim Rice, Deborah Bass, Zoe Learner, Kobie Boykins, Adam Steltzner and Shonte Wright, a diverse group of enthusiastic scientists and engineers.
Prior to the launch date of the Marsapalooza national tour, the M-Team will make special appearances at the New York Aquarium on November 30 from 11:00AM to 3:00PM (located at Surf Avenue at West 8th in Brooklyn), which will be an open event for parents and children, as well as the general public. Displays, demonstrations, presentations and outdoor activities on the Plaza will be conducted by the M-Team. On December 1, the M-Team will split up into two teams of three to conduct special events and appearances, including visits to schools and colleges in Upper Manhattan, Harlem, Bronx, and Brooklyn.
Marsapalooza kicks off formally on December 2nd at New York City's American Museum of Natural History with a day-long series of events. Marsapalooza is a take on Lollapalooza, a concept that was introduced by alternative rock group Jane's Addiction's front man Perry Farrell as slang for "something or someone striking." The tour proceeds from New York to the Naval Observatory and George Washington University in Washington, D.C., 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 Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles on December 8. In each city the M-team will also visit schools, from elementary through high school, potentially allowing as many as 10,000 youngsters to interact face to face with the dynamic young scientists and engineers. The public and media will have an opportunity to meet the "M-Team" in each city and K-12 students will have a chance to participate in interactive activities and demonstrations at each event.
The rovers arrive at Mars in January to examine Martian rocks with more sophisticated scientific tools than the previous rover, Pathfinder. One of the main objectives of Marsapalooza is to stimulate excitement and interest in the mission, and to convey the tremendous challenges of landing and operating 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 is icing on the cake," said Kobie Boykins, one of the M-Team members and a mechanical engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA/Caltech), in Pasadena, CA.
Marsapalooza is part of Passport To Knowledge's "To Mars with MER" (TMwM) project, which also features six hours of broadcast television, a website (http://passporttoknowledge.com/mars), hands-on activities for schools, homes and science centers, and targeted outreach to selected big cities and rural communities. "Many of today's researchers and engineers date their interest in space to seeing TV coverage of the Apollo missions", says P2K Project Director, Geoff Haines-Stiles. "We hope Marsapalooza and 'To Mars with MER' will launch lots of new explorers on careers in science and high tech." "TMwM" is funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation (NSF), with additional support from NASA. "TMwM" focuses on the unusually diverse team of men and women who have brought the robot geologists to life, and sent them on their way to search for evidence of water on Mars, and Martian locations that may once have been hospitable to life.
MARSAPALOOZA was conceived and coordinated by PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE, and made possible by major funding from the National Science Foundation, NSF. Additional support comes from NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA/California Institute of Technology) and the NASA JPL Mars Public Engagement Office.