Students from Dilworth STEM Academy to Tour Surface of Mars with 2012 DRI Nevada Medalist, Dr. Steven Squyres

Desert Research Institute, Reno DRIVE6 virtual reality facility to provide unique learning environment for students

Steven Squyres, Ph.D., this year’s recipient of the Desert Research Institute Nevada Medal, will take a group of students from Dilworth STEM Academy on a tour of the surface of Mars in DRI’s DRIVE6 virtual reality facility, Tuesday, April 24 from 10 a.m. – noon.  DRIVE6 is a six-sided virtual reality enclosure displaying real-time 3D stereographic visualization that allows users to move physically into and interact with a simulated, recreated, imagined or altered environment.

Media are invited to attend and are encouraged to interview Dr. Squyres, Dilworth students and faculty, as well as DRI faculty and staff.

Squyres, best known for his work as the Principal Investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover Project (MER) and his study of the history and distribution of water on Mars, will spend the morning with students as a way to get them excited about science. In addition to taking students on a tour of the surface of Mars, he will talk about his work and answer questions from the students.

“I am excited to share my experiences with these eager young scientists,” Squyres said.

He added, “Students from Dilworth have been working on an atmospheric exploration project using weather balloons to carry their ideas from their schoolyard to the upper reaches of the atmosphere.  I am excited to hear about their experiments, take them on a tour of Mars and spend time with them at DRI.”

The evening of April 24, Squyres will be honored at the 25th annual Desert Research Institute Nevada Medal dinner at the Peppermill Hotel Casino.

Squyres is currently the Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University. He has won various respected awards including the 2004 Carl Sagan Memorial Award and the 2009 Carl Sagan Medal of Excellence in Communication in Planetary Science. He has been recognized by “ABC News,” “The Colbert Report,” and Wired Magazine. In 2005, Squyres published “Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet,” which has since been adapted into the Disney film, “Roving Mars.”

“Dr. Squyres’ research on our solar system has earned him an extraordinary reputation in the field of planetary sciences,” said DRI President Steven Wells, Ph.D. “DRI is honored to award him the Nevada Medal.”

Squyres has also been a co-investigator on the 2003 Mars Express and 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and a member of the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer Flight Investigation Team for the Mars Odyssey Mission. In addition to his studies on Mars, he has worked with NASA on numerous other space exploration projects, including the Voyager mission to Jupiter and Saturn, the Magellan Mission to Venus, the Cassini Mission to Saturn and the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Mission.

For more information on the 25th annual DRI Nevada Medal dinner please visit www.dri.edu/25.

For sponsorship information, please visit http://bit.ly/y8DCB9.

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