NASA Student Mars Project Wins Education Award

                NASA Student Mars Project Wins Education Award

PR Newswire

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2013

WASHINGTON, Feb. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A NASA project that
allows students to use a camera on a spacecraft orbiting Mars for research has
received a new education prize from the journal Science.


NASA's Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP), a component of NASA's Science
Mission Directorate education and outreach activities, enables students from
fifth grade through college to take an image of the Red Planet's surface with
a camera aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey. Students study the image to answer their
research questions. After the image comes back to Earth, the students are some
of the first to see the picture and make their own discoveries.

Established in 2012, the journal's Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction
encourages innovation and excellence in education by recognizing outstanding,
inquiry-based science and design-based engineering education modules. A panel
of scientists and teachers selected MSIP as one of 12 education projects from
fields such as biology, chemistry, physics and Earth sciences.

Designed to fit within existing science curricula, MSIP targets required
science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) objectives and
standards for easy integration into classrooms. Authentic research is at the
core of the award-winning project.

"At a time when the U.S. critically needs to develop the next generation of
scientists and engineers, such student-led discoveries speak to the power of
engaging students in authentic research in their classrooms today," said Jim
Green, director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA's Science Mission
Directorate in Washington. "Not only is the chance to explore Mars motivating,
it shows students they are fully capable of entering challenging and exciting
STEM fields."

Since MSIP began in 2002, more than 35,000 students across America have
participated from public, private, urban, suburban and rural schools of all
sizes, grade levels and student abilities. In 2010, a seventh-grade MSIP class
in rural California discovered a previously unknown cave on Mars. A student
presented their results at a major planetary science conference.

"The Mars Student Imaging Project is a perfect example of how NASA can use its
missions and programs to inspire the next generation of explorers," said
Leland Melvin, NASA associate administrator for education in Washington. "If
we want our students to become tomorrow's scientists and engineers, we need to
give them opportunities to do real-world -- or in this case, out-of-this-world
-- scientific research, using all of the tools of 21st century learning."

MISP is a key component of NASA's Mars Public Engagement Program. The Mars
Education Program at Arizona State University in Tempe, under the direction of
Sheri Klug Boonstra, leads MSIP. Philip Christensen, principal investigator
for the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) visible and infrared camera
aboard Odyssey, is MSIP's mentor.

Orbiting Mars since 2001, Odyssey has operated longer than any spacecraft ever
sent to Mars. The mission's longevity enables continued science from
instruments on the orbiter, including the monitoring of seasonal changes on
Mars from year to year. Odyssey also functions as a communication-relay
service for NASA's Mars rovers.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars
Public Engagement Program and the Odyssey mission for the Science Mission
Directorate in Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the
orbiter. JPL and Lockheed Martin collaborate on operating the spacecraft.

Information about the Mars Student Imaging Project is available at:

For more about the Mars Odyssey mission, visit:

For information on the prize and eligibility criteria, visit:


Contact: Dwayne Brown, Headquarters, Washington, +1-202-358-1726,; Guy Webster, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
Calif., +1-818-354-6278,
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