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January 14, 2003

Homestretch for NASA & LEGO "Name the Rovers Contest"

Rover
Artist's concept of Mars Exploration Rover

NASA is reminding America's school kids that time is running out on a chance to make history by naming two rovers being launched to explore Mars. The NASA "Name the Mars Rovers" contest closes January 31, 2003, so there is still time to submit the winning entries.

The robotic explorers are part of NASA's upcoming Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission. The twin rovers will land at two different locations on the mysterious red planet to explore the surface in search of answers about the history of water on Mars.

The NASA "Name the Rovers" contest is a collaborative effort between NASA and the LEGO Company. The LEGO Company is managing the contest in conjunction with The Planetary Society. The contest provides students with the unique opportunity to suggest a name for each of the two Mars-bound rovers, temporarily known as MER-A and MER-B. The rovers are scheduled to launch in May and June 2003 respectively. The rovers are scheduled to land on Mars in January 2004.

"We are eagerly looking forward to some really creative and innovative ideas from students, as they compete to name the next Mars rovers and become part of history," said Dave Lavery, Program Executive for Solar System Exploration at NASA Headquarters.

"The LEGO Company is dedicated to furthering hands-on discovery, playful learning, and the boundless frontiers of imagination. Space exploration also embraces these qualities, which is why the LEGO Company is so pleased to partner with NASA," said Brad Justus, LEGO Senior Vice President. "By involving children actively in the Mars mission, through the 'Name the Rovers' contest and with other related activities, we hope to help excite and inspire the next generation of space explorers, " he said.

The NASA "Name the Rovers" contest is open to students 5 to 18 years of age who attend a U.S. school and are enrolled in the current school season.

Submissions must include suggested names for both rovers and a 50-500 word essay justifying why the students believe the names should be chosen. The contest has many educational benefits and encourages students to do research for their essays, learn more about Mars and space exploration.

The contest is open for submissions through January 31, 2003. NASA will announce the contest winners prior to launching the rovers in the spring of 2003.

Information about the contest is available at: http://www.nametherovers.org

Information about the Mars Exploration Rovers is at: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mer

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