Space Florida, Mars Society Team Up for Competition

mars_desert_research_station

SPACE FLORIDA PRESS RELEASE

Space Florida, The Mars Society, NASA-Kennedy Space Center and the Florida Department of Education (DoE), have joined forces to create a competition in which Florida middle and high school students will design scientific experiments to send to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah.

The MDRS is one of four such facilities throughout the world, and is operated by The Mars Society. Each MDRS facility can simulate many of the environmental and geological conditions encountered on the Mars surface.

The Mars Society believes that placing crews in simulated Mars environments will help to problem-solve any potential challenges that may be faced by crews that eventually live and work on Mars.

Space Florida and the Florida DoE will help spread the word about the competition through Florida schools and host entries via the Space Florida website (www.spaceflorida.gov/mars.php). Students from middle and high schools across the state will be invited to design and submit experiments that could assist in the study of Martian environments. Once top designs are selected by the Competition’s Advisory Committee, Space Florida will sponsor the winning teams/individuals with $100 each to cover assembly and shipping costs to the MDRS Habitat in Utah.

During MDRS missions in the winter/spring 2009-2010 season, the Habitat crew will conduct the experiments and transmit data via ‘live’ camera and internet blogs. With cooperation from NASA-KSC and their Digital Learning Network (DLN), NASA personnel will transmit special interactive programs to the three (3) winning school entrants. During these transmissions, each of the winning teams will have an opportunity to interact with NASA engineers and take a virtual tour of America’s Spaceport, Kennedy Space Center.

“Involvement in unique scientific competitions like this will motivate Florida students to get excited about the future of space exploration,” noted Tony Gannon, Space Florida Director of Education.

Experiments entered via the Space Florida website should address one of three key scientific research areas currently studied at MDRS, which include Human Factors, Mission Operations and Geology/Biology Field Studies. The application deadline for the three winning Florida-based experiments is October 30, 2009. Winners will be notified on or before November 27, 2009 via the Space Florida website, and other media announcements. The MDRS mission will be held December 2009 – May 2010.

To enter the competition and/or review the rules and regulations, visit www.spaceflorida.gov/mars.php.

About Space Florida: Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace development organization, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed. www.spaceflorida.gov.