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Last Chance to Hitch a Ride to Mars

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
02/05/2007

CONTACT:
Mat Kaplan
Email: mat.kaplan@planetary.org
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Only a few days remain to fly your name - or those of family members and friends - to Mars.

This summer, The Planetary Society will send a DVD containing the names of individuals from around the world to Mars aboard NASA's first Scout mission, Phoenix. Once a name is entered on The Planetary Society website, a certificate can be downloaded, stating the name's inclusion on the archival message from Earth to Mars. So far, about 200,000 people from more than 70 countries have signed up to send their names.

The deadline for submitting names has just been extended to February 12, 2007 at Noon, Pacific time. People everywhere are encouraged to submit names to fly to Mars, including those of children and grandchildren, classmates, or even a favorite family pet.

The disk will also include "Visions of Mars," a collection of 19th and 20th century stories and art by some of Earth's visionaries.

The special silica glass mini-DVD will be attached to the deck of the Phoenix lander and will appear in some of the calibration images that the spacecraft sends back from the surface. So not only will the names be sent to Mars, the disk that carries them will be visible. Built to last for at least many hundreds of years, the disk will be the first library to land on the Red Planet.

Phoenix will be the first lander to explore the Martian arctic, landing near 70 degrees north latitude. Designed to search for and study water ice, the spacecraft is a fixed lander with advanced instruments and a robotic arm that can dig up to half a meter into the soil. The Phoenix team hopes to uncover clues in the icy soil of the Martian arctic about the history of near surface ice and its potential for habitability. Launching in August 2007, Phoenix will land on the Red Planet in May 2008.

The Phoenix Mission is led by Principal Investigator Peter H. Smith of the University of Arizona, with project management at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and development partnership with Lockheed Martin Space Systems. International contributions for Phoenix are provided by the Canadian Space Agency, the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland), the University of Copenhagen, and the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

The Planetary Society is working with Visionary Products, Inc. on this project, as well as receiving donations of silica glass DVDs and data etching from Plasmon OMS.

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