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NASA Approves Designs for
Mars Exploration Rovers Commemorative

The twin-Rover mission to Mars is being commemorated by a handsome 5 oz. pure silver proof medal. The NASA-approved designs were created by Alex Shagin. The obverse features the two Rovers on the surface of Mars, with a portion of our planetary system in the background; the inscription reads "MARS EXPLORATION ROVERS · SPIRIT · VI-10 · OPPORTUNITY · VII-7." The reverse contains the NASA logo within a stylized sun; the surrounding legend reads "UNITED STATES NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION · 2003."

This is the second issue in a series of NASA-approved commemoratives; the first was a tribute to the Columbia crew. The Rover and Columbia medals are available for $89 each from PandaAmerica, 3460 Torrance Blvd., Suite 100, Torrance, CA 90503. Credit card orders can be placed by calling (800) 472-6327 or e-mailing info@pandaamerica.com. Add $5.50 for shipping and insurance per order. Each medal comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.

Third-grader Sofi Collis won the Rover naming contest with the following essay:

I used to live in an Orphanage. It was dark and cold and lonely. At night, I looked up at the sparkly sky and felt better. I dreamed I could fly there. In America, I can make all my dreams come true … Thank-you for the "Spirit" and the "Opportunity."

"Opportunity" was launched on July 7, 2003 and "Spirit" on June 10. The twin spacecrafts in NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project are carrying field-geology robots for arrival at Mars in January. Both rovers will land in the Martian afternoon within 45 minutes of each other, while the Earth is still in view, allowing the Earth to receive the landing signals.

Science instruments on the Rovers are state-of-the-art tools that will acquire information about the Martian environment. They include: Panoramic Camera, Microscopic Imager, Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer, Rock Abrasion Tool, and other instruments that will determine accurate colors, brightness, and other information.

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Prepared by Mel Wacks on October 13, 2003

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