News Release

National Science Center Brings Mars to Students

AUGUSTA, GA., January 23, 2004 - The National Science Center
Jan 23, 2004

AUGUSTA, GA., January 23, 2004 - The National Science Center (NSC) announced today "PROJECT: MARS ROVER" - a high technology program incorporating a collection of Mars Rover robotic vehicles and associated educational programming. Through a national sponsorship by Cisco Systems, Inc., the National Science Center - with offices in Augusta, Georgia and Arlington, Virginia - continues its mission of delivering top-quality educational programs to students throughout the nation and inspire young people to pursue careers in science, math and technology.

In January 2004, as Spirit and Opportunity, NASA's twin robotic, exploratory craft prospect for minerals to determine if Mars was ever hospitable to carbon-based life forms, one-quarter scale rovers will be exploring for signs of organic life in a 400 square-foot simulation of the Martian terrain -- the centerpiece of this new educational program. Exclusive educational programming in the form of Discovery Laboratories, Discovery Camps and Discovery Workshops will deliver high-quality, scientific education in Martian geology, terrestrial geology and oceanography and space exploration.

"Math and science education are key to building and maintaining U.S. global technology leadership," said Scott Spehar, Federal area vice president, Cisco Systems. "Government and business leaders must work together to shape the workforce of the future by increasing educational opportunities in these disciplines for all children. Cisco is pleased to support the NSC's effort to develop this exciting and timely program to bring Mars exploration to Earth."

"We are excited about our newest program and the opportunity to work with Cisco Systems on this world-class educational effort," stated Joe F. Edwards, Chairman and CEO of the National Science Center. "PROJECT: MARS ROVER's" goal is to educate our young students in robotics and the terrestrial and planetary sciences. Technological education is deeply imbedded at both the NSC and Cisco. We are very proud to have them onboard with this effort."

Visiting "mission scientists" will program the rovers to perform exploration and discovery tasks, plan and execute paths to specific geographic features, measure performance parameters, analyze data and search for organo-fluorescent evidence of life in the earth-based landscape. Each rover is equipped with an optical rangefinder and a custom-designed head to deliver panoramic, 360-degree images to the control station.

The Mars Rover exhibit will be web-accessible directly from the classroom via a web-cam connection. Rovers will also be used in NSC'S Science-To-Go! Program, one of the organization's fastest-growing Offerings, in which scientific programming is taken directly to schools. This "Mobile Mars Rover Project" will utilize a 100 square-foot portable Mars landscape, with all the capabilities of the on-site exhibit. Science-To-Go! primarily serves rural, underserved areas. A complete educational curriculum is being developed in support of the exhibit and will be made available to teachers for use both at the National Science Center's Fort Discovery and in their classrooms.

Phase II development of the project will focus on development of a web-based telemetry control system allowing students to remotely manage a rover directly from the classroom.

Since its inception, NSC has delivered services to over 1,250,000 students, teachers and parents in all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Puerto Rico. NSC operates portable planetarium programs, national math and science camps, Mobile Discovery Center tractor trailers, national distance learning programs ("National Science Center Live") and Fort Discovery, a 128,000 square-foot science center headquarters housing over 270 interactive, educational exhibits. NSC has a highly visible, educational partnership with the United States Army, manages the Columbia Families Fund, which is establishing an educational legacy in memory of the Columbia space shuttle crew, and has other associations and partnerships with DISA, the American Museum of Natural History and NASA. NSC also manages the National Science Center Forum in which government, military and industry leaders periodically gather for business events and symposiums.

To find out more about the National Science Center and the Mars Rover Project, visit our website

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