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Nov. 6, 2001

Michael Mewhinney

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-3937 or 650/604-9000

Email: mmewhinney@mail.arc.nasa.gov


RELEASE: 01-81 AR

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: News media are invited to attend a site dedication ceremony for the new Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Cosmos at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, 2001, at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. The ceremony will be held in a tent on the future site of the new center across the street from McDonald’s restaurant, located at the corner of McCord and Edquiba avenues.

NEW CARL SAGAN CENTER SITE TO BE DEDICATED NOV. 9 AT NASA AMES

The date of the dedication was particulary significant, coming as it will on the exact day that would have been the 67th birthday of the famed researcher.

"As one of my last official acts as Administrator, I am thrilled to be dedicating the site for the new Carl Sagan Center at NASA Ames Research Center," said NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin. "Carl was an incredible visionary, and now his legacy can be preserved and advanced by a 2lst century research and education laboratory committed to enhancing our understanding of life in the universe and furthering the cause of space exploration for all time," Goldin said.

"No honor would have meant more to Carl than this," said Ann Druyan, his wife and collaborator for 20 years. "He loved NASA, cherished his relationship with Ames, and dreamed that we, as a civilization, would turn our genius to the deep questions of life in the cosmos."  

"The Sagan Center will be a huge step forward toward our goal of developing a world-class, shared-use research and development campus in association with academia, industry and non-profits," said NASA Ames Center Director Dr. Henry McDonald. "I believe that, in retrospect, we will come to view this day as one of the most significant in the evolution of Ames Research Center and establishment of the NASA Research Park (NRP), one that set the tone for the next 20 to 30 years and beyond," he said.

The Carl Sagan Center site dedication comes after months of work, according to officials. NASA Ames Research Center and Lockheed Martin representatives signed a historic agreement on March 22, 2001, after working for over 15 months on potential areas for research and technical collaborations. The agreement committed both sides to initiating the development of a collaborative research facility and office complex in the NRP in order to pursue collaborations with NASA and other NRP partners, especially the University of California.

"We're delighted that, with this site dedication ceremony today, we move another step closer to making the Sagan Center a reality," said Donald Fulop, Vice President of Business Development, Lockheed Martin Space Operations, Houston. "It is fitting that this 21st century laboratory be named for the 20th century's most articulate and passionate advocate of space exploration. The Sagan Center, the product of an innovative public-private sector partnership, will attract and promote collaborative research and development among its partners in industry, academia and NASA."

NASA Ames Associate Director and manager of the laboratory facility design, Nancy Bingham, agreed. "The lab represents an unprecedented, futuristic venue for scientific collaboration," she said. "It will be open to the broad scientific community and is specifically designed to increase the interplay of scientists in fields for which there is no obvious common ground. A modular design contains the planned laboratories but also provides flexibility for change and evolution," she added.

As currently planned, the Sagan Center will consist of three 30,000-square-foot laboratory modules, with the potential to add a fourth at a later date, and a 30,000-square-foot public gallery exhibition area and a 500-seat auditorium.

"The Carl Sagan Center will provide an exceptional opportunity for leading-edge, multi-disciplinary research in support of NASA's mission to understand ‘are we alone in the universe?,’" said NASA Ames Deputy Director for Research Scott Hubbard. "Scientists will conduct both basic and applied work that will further our understanding of life's origins, evolution and future. Researchers will integrate new findings in nanotechnology, biology and information technology to develop new miniature tools for sample analysis and data understanding," he said.

"A genomics and microbiology laboratory will be used to understand the fundamental processes of living systems drawn from a variety of different environments," Hubbard added. "A new biosensors facility will enable development of devices to study the fingerprints of life, both here on Earth and on other planets. Tiny devices that mimic or replicate the processes in living systems will emerge from the nanotechnology laboratory," Hubbard predicted.

"We are planning the UCSC Silicon Valley Center for research, education and community service to be located in the NRP," said University of California at Santa Cruz Chancellor MRC Greenwood. "We are very excited about becoming the primary research collaboration partner in the new Sagan Center facility with industry and NASA."

The laboratory project is permitted under the Environmental Assessment conducted under Ames’ 1994 Comprehensive Use Plan (CUP). As proposed, the project, including a new office complex, could include approximately 700,000 square feet of new construction in the NRP on more than 21 acres. The laboratory itself would comprise approximately 120,000 square feet. Other NRP partners are participating in an environmental entitlement process called an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that NASA is currently conducting. The EIS, once adopted, would permit new construction, in addition to that allowed by the 1994 CUP.

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