Astro News Briefs: November 11–17

Name a Martian Rover

November 13, 2002 | This summer, NASA will launch two automated Mars Exploration Rovers to examine the red planet's surface geology. With NASA's cooperation, LEGO and the Planetary Society are asking children to help name the two rovers by submitting a candidate name and an essay supporting their suggestion. Contest rules state: "Space objects, missions, and spacecraft have traditionally been named after people or places from history, mythology, or fiction, with words that convey a spirit of exploration or enterprise." Besides naming rights, the winner gets an expenses-paid trip for four to witness the launch of one of the Mars Exploration Rover spacecraft at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The contest has an entry deadline of January 31, 2003.

For more information, visit http://www.lego.com/.
Background on the MER mission is at http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer/


Send Your Name To Mars (But Hurry!)

November 13, 2002 | NASA wants to send you to Mars — in spirit, at least. The space agency has been collecting names for a DVD that will be attached to one of the Mars Exploration Rovers to be launched toward the Red Planet next year. "Everyone on Earth who has ever dreamed of being an explorer on an alien planet will want to go along for the ride as we explore the surface of Mars" invites Edward J. Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator for the Office of Space Science. But you must hurry: the project will stop taking names on November 15th at midnight Eastern Standard Time.

For more on the name-collecting effort, see the Planetary Society's Red Rover Goes to Mars Web site.


"Little Prince" Effort Nets 880,000 Names

November 13, 2002 | NASA isn't the only space agency with a flair for public participation. Japan's Institute of Space and Astronautical Science recently announced that 880,000 names will be lofted toward an asteroid next May aboard its Mu Space Engineering Satellite C (MUSES C). The target is an unnamed, 400-meter-wide minor planet designated 25143. Plans call for the craft to deploy a target marker onto the asteroid that will act as a lighthouse
for MUSES C when it approaches the asteroid for sampling. The vehicle will land, scoop up a sample, and return to Earth in 2007. The names of the 880,000 people are etched on aluminum film attached to the target marker and they will be left behind.

ISAS conducted its "Little Prince Campaign" in conjunction with the Planetary Society of Japan. A previous mail-in effort, involving the Nozomi spacecraft that is now en route to Mars, netted 270,000 names.

A summary of the MUSES C mission appears at http://www.isas.ac.jp/e/enterp/missions/muses-c/cont.html.


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