|A group of boys
waiting for their FastPass "boarding call"
to catch a flight on Star Tours Endor Express™
received an unexpected treat when they chose to
explore the NASA exhibit at Disneyland's American
Space Experience™. They were among
the Disneyland guests who watched as NASA TV
broadcast the launch of NASA's latest mission to
features a life size model of the Mars
Exploration Rover (MER) surrounded at its base by
artist's renditions of the launch, landing and
exploration. Suspended from the ceiling
above the rover model are several television
screens that usually display realistic digital
animation of the mission. On June 10th, the
screens were displaying live NASA television and
visitors were able to listen in as the launch
progressed towards countdown.
The first of two
Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), recently named
"Spirit", is now on its way to a
planned landing on Mars scheduled for January 4th
2004. A second rover, named "Opportunity",
will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida
later this month. The two NASA spacecraft
will be joining the European Space Agency's Mars
Express, whose "Beagle" lander is
scheduled to touch down on December 25th.
New and improved
animation, by digital
artist Dan Maas, was
shown during the broadcast. For the last
two or three months, Dan has been working on
adding new graphics for a much more detailed
rover. This day he was taking a break to
watch an event that previously was only the dream
of many scientists and engineers, captured
through his graphics for others to see.
Cameras mounted on the Delta rocket captured the
jettison of the booster rockets during the live
event. It was remarkable how much real life
lived up to the "artist's rendition".
weather related delays, Spirit lifted off in a
truly "picture perfect" launch.
As it soared towards
Mars, the men and
women who made this possible were experiencing
emotions much like that of new parents.
Their "baby" is off on an experience of
a lifetime. Go Spirit, go!!!
living in an era
of dreams coming true."
~ Walter Elias