Residents given the opportunity to be a part of space mission
By Chris Fish
BREVARD -- In an experience that is (quite literally) out of this world, Brevard County residents now have the opportunity to have their own literary works orbit the planet of Mars.
NASA is encouraging the public from around the world to submit a message in the form of a three-line poem, or haiku, by July 1.
Three haikus will then be selected by a public vote, which will begin on July 15 and end on July 29.
The three winners, who will be announced on Aug. 8, will be included on a DVD aboard NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft.
The MAVEN mission is part of the "Going to Mars Campaign," coordinated at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
"This is a really incredible experiment to get the public on board with the space mission," said Stephanie Renfrow, a spokeswoman for the project. "We hope people will participate, and it is open to anyone on earth."
Organizers said that MAVEN is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The spacecraft will investigate how the loss of Mars' atmosphere to space determined the history of water on the surface, officials said.
Along with the haikus, NASA is inviting members of the public, between the ages of 5 and 17, to submit their names for inclusion on the DVD, aboard the spacecraft.
"I'm very excited, Ms. Renfrow said. "We currently have 19,393 names and 9,420 haikus submitted. That's a pretty bang-up job."
Organizers said that participants who submit their names for the campaign will be able to print a certificate of appreciation to document their involvement with the MAVEN mission.
All names submitted will be included on the DVD.
To participate in the free "Going to Mars" campaign, visit http://lasp.colarado.edu/maven/goingtomars.
For more information about MAVEN, visit http://www.nasa.gov/maven.