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Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
(Phone: 202/358-1726)

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(Phone: 818/354-6278)
December 23, 2003
NASA Announces Mars & Comet Mission Coverage
On Jan. 3, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Project will deliver the first mobile laboratory to the surface of Mars. The rover will perform robotic geological fieldwork that may reveal a history of water on Mars. On Jan. 2, 2004, NASA's Stardust spacecraft will have a close encounter with comet Wild 2, deploying a collector to catch particles for return to Earth.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., have navigated the first rover, Spirit, to arrive at Mars at approximately 11:35 p.m. EST Jan. 3. Three weeks later, the second rover, Opportunity, will reach the Meridiani Planum, a region containing exposed deposits of a mineral that usually forms under watery conditions. Information about the Mars Exploration Rover mission is available online at:

To cover Stardust and/or Mars missions from JPL, media must be accredited. For information, call the JPL Media Relations Office at: 818/ 354-5011. Media with completed applications may pick up credentials starting at 11 a.m. EST Monday, with valid I.D.

Newsroom Operating Hours (All Times EST)
Dec. 29 - 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dec. 30 - 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Dec. 31 - closed
Jan. 1, 2004 - closed
Jan. 2, 2004 - 10 a.m. to midnight
Jan. 3, 2004 - 10 a.m. thru 3 a.m. Jan. 5
Jan. 5, 2004 - 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Press conferences will be conducted at JPL beginning Dec. 30, 2003, on the Stardust and Mars missions. Information about both missions is available at:

Briefing Schedule (ALL TIMES EST):
Tuesday, Dec. 30
– News briefing, Stardust pre-flyby overview, 2 to 3 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 2
– News briefing, Mars science overview, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
– News briefing, Mars rover mission overview, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
– News briefing, Stardust flyby, 6 to 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 3
– News briefing, Spirit landing status, 3 to 4 p.m.
– News briefing, Mars program overview, 6 to 7 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 4
– News briefing, Spirit landing, 12:30 to 1:30 a.m.
– Other news briefings, times TBD

Tours are identical and last two hours. Space is limited and filled on a first-come basis. Media must RSVP at: 818/354-5011, or sign up in the JPL newsroom on Dec. 29 and 30.
– Dec. 29, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
– Dec. 30, noon and 5:30 p.m.

NASA TV will provide extensive mission coverage. NASA TV is available on AMC-9, transponder 9C, C-Band, located at 85 degrees west longitude. The frequency is 3880.0 MHz. Polarization is vertical, and audio is monaural at 6.80 MHz. Audio only of coverage is available by calling: 321/867-1220/1240/1260/7135. TV schedule:

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington.


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