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SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA CREW MEMORIALIZED ON MARS]




    Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC


Glenn Mahone/Bob Jacobs
Headquarters, Washington                    Jan. 6, 2004
(Phone: 202/358-1898/1600)

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(Phone: 818/354-5011)

RELEASE: 04-009

SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA CREW MEMORIALIZED ON MARS

     NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced plans to 
name the landing site of the Mars Spirit Rover in honor of the 
astronauts who died in the tragic accident of the Space Shuttle 
Columbia in February. The area in the vast flatland of the 
Gusev Crater where Spirit landed this weekend will be called 
the Columbia Memorial Station.

Since its historic landing, Spirit has been sending 
extraordinary images of its new surroundings on the red planet 
over the past few days. Among them, an image of a memorial 
plaque placed on the spacecraft to Columbia's astronauts and 
the STS-107 mission.

The plaque is mounted on the back of Spirit's high-gain 
antenna, a disc-shaped tool used for communicating directly 
with Earth. The plaque is aluminum and approximately six inches 
in diameter. The memorial plaque was attached March 28, 2003, 
at the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at NASA's Kennedy 
Space Center, Fla. Chris Voorhees and Peter Illsley, Mars 
Exploration Rover engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion 
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., designed the plaque.

"During this time of great joy for NASA, the Mars Exploration 
Rover team and the entire NASA family paused to remember our 
lost colleagues from the Columbia mission. To venture into 
space, into the unknown, is a calling heard by the bravest, 
most dedicated individuals," said NASA Administrator Sean 
O'Keefe. "As team members gazed at Mars through Spirit's eyes, 
the Columbia memorial appeared in images returned to Earth, a 
fitting tribute to their own spirit and dedication. Spirit 
carries the dream of exploration the brave astronauts of 
Columbia held in their hearts."

Spirit successfully landed on Mars Jan. 3. It will spend the 
next three months exploring the barren landscape to determine 
if Mars was ever watery and suitable to sustain life. Spirit's 
twin, Opportunity, will reach Mars on Jan. 25 to begin a 
similar examination of a site on the opposite side of the 
planet.

A copy of the image is available on the Internet at: 
http://www.nasa.gov

-end-

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