In the first-ever program of its kind, teams of U.S. and Chinese
high school students on Sunday started a joint program to explore
Mars at Arizona State University (ASU).
The nine-day program involves 16 Chinese students and eight of
their counterparts from Arizona Nogales High School, the ASU said
in a statement.
Together, the space-minded students will take part in the China
Youth Space Academy at ASU's Mars Space Flight Facility.
The university's School of Earth and Space Exploration is an
international leader in space science, with instruments operating
both in orbit and on the surface of Mars.
Each student team, consisting of both U.S. and Chinese students,
will decide on a Mars geological problem to solve. Then the teams
will command the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which is in orbit around
the red planet, to take images and data to solve the problems, the
In the final step, the student teams will analyze their data and
report on their findings, just as working scientists do.
"The Space Academy program was created to excite high school
students from the U.S. and China about careers in space science and
engineering," said Jennie Si, professor of electrical engineering
in ASU's Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering and director of ASU's
The Chinese students were chosen through an academic challenge
joint partnership between ASU, the Chinese government-run Web site,
China.com.cn, and Flying Spirit International Ad (Beijing) Co.
More than 12,000 students registered to take an online test that
evaluated the students' knowledge of the solar system and space
exploration. Then 40 semi-finalists competed in November 2007 for
two days to produce the 16 winners.
ASU Vice President for Research and Economic Affairs R. F.
Shangraw led a delegation of five ASU faculty and staff members to
serve as judges for the competitions held in Beijing.
"The Chinese students who entered the Space Academy competition
were all very impressive," said Philip Christensen, director of ASU
's Mars Space Flight Facility and the designer of the instrument on
Mars Odyssey that the student teams will use to study Mars.
The China Youth Space Academy is one of the many ways ASU's
School of Earth and Space Exploration is educating the next
generation of space explorers.
"The China Youth Space Academy will carve a new path in
cross-cultural learning," Jennie Si told Xinhua in an interview.
"ASU is committed to finding and developing brilliant minds from
around the country and the world."
(Xinhua News Agency January 28, 2008)