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Space Shuttle Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars

    Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

Glenn Mahone/Donald Savage
Headquarters, Washington                     January 28, 2004
(Phone: 202/358-1898/1547)

DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
(Phone: 818/393-9011)

RELEASE: 04-043

Space Shuttle Challenger Crew Memorialized on Mars

     NASA announced plans to name the landing site of the Mars 
Opportunity rover in honor of the Space Shuttle Challenger's 
final crew. The area in the vast flatland called Meridiani 
Planum, where Opportunity landed this weekend, will be called 
the Challenger Memorial Station.

The seven-member crew of Space Shuttle Challenger was lost when 
the orbiter suffered an in-flight breakup during launch Jan. 
28, 1986, 18 years ago today.

NASA selected Meridiani Planum because of extensive deposits of 
a mineral called crystalline hematite, which usually forms in 
the presence of liquid water. Scientists had hoped for a 
specific landing site where they could examine both the surface 
layer that's rich in hematite and an underlying geological 
feature of light-colored layered rock. The small crater in 
which Opportunity alighted appears to have exposures of both, 
with soil that could be the hematite unit and an exposed 
outcropping of the lighter rock layer.

Challenger's 10th flight was to have been a six-day mission 
dedicated to research and education, as well as the deployment 
of the TDRS-B communications satellite. 

Challenger's commander was Francis R. Scobee and the mission 
pilot was Michael J. Smith. Mission specialists included Judith 
A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka and Ronald E. McNair. The mission 
also carried two payload specialists, Gregory B. Jarvis and 
Sharon Christa McAuliffe, who was the agency's first teacher in 

Opportunity successfully landed on Mars Jan. 25. It will spend 
the next three months exploring the region surrounding what is 
now known as Challenger Memorial Station to determine if Mars 
was ever watery and suitable to sustain life.

Opportunity's twin, Spirit, is trailblazing a similar path on 
the other side of the planet, in a Connecticut-sized feature 
called Gusev Crater.

A composite image depicting the location of the Challenger 
Memorial Station can be found on the Web at:


NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the 
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars 
Exploration Rover project for NASA's Office of Space Science in 

Additional information about the project is available from 
NASA, JPL and Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., on the Internet 



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