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University of Iowa News Release

July 29, 2004

UI To Bring Saturn, Other Spectacles To Iowa State Fair

It took NASA's Cassini spacecraft nearly seven years to reach Saturn. But Earthlings only need to wait a couple more weeks before they can get a close-up and personal glimpse of the famous ringed planet.

The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Department of Physics and Astronomy will feature two projects -- the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, and the Mars Express Mission -- at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines Aug. 12-22. The displays are just a small sample of the many presentations, activities and personalities the UI will showcase in its booth as it continues its theme, "Iowa: Your University."

Located in the southwest corner of the Varied Industries Building, the booth also will feature visits by UI athletics personalities such as Hawkeye women's basketball head coach Lisa Bluder, UI Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby and Gary Dolphin, "The Voice of the Hawkeyes"; daily drawings for prizes, including Hawkeye clothing, autographed mini-basketballs and tickets to Hawkeye athletics events; presentations on science, art and health; an expanded Hawk Shop; standing displays of UI athletics trophies, including Floyd of Rosedale; free information about UI admissions and programs; and giveaways, including football posters, temporary tattoos and buttons.

For the latest information about the UI's booth, visit

The UI, which has a long history of space research, continues the tradition with its involvement in two of today's most exciting missions. Visitors to the UI fair booth will get to see photographs, videos and other information related to those missions.

NASA launched the Cassini-Huygens Mission on Oct. 15, 1997, and the craft entered orbit around Saturn June 30 this year. The ship is carrying Huygens, a European Space Agency (ESA) probe that will eventually be dropped into the atmosphere of Saturn's large moon, Titan.

A group of UI researchers is responsible for the Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument, one of 12 instruments carried on the Cassini orbiter. The RPWS instrument is designed to study radio emissions and plasma waves in the vicinity of Saturn. The display in the UI booth will include descriptions of the Cassini-Huygens mission and the UI's role in the mission and will feature numerous images of Saturn, its rings and moons, the Cassini spacecraft and the Huygens probe, and the RPWS, along with written descriptions of these items.

The exhibit will also include information about the Mars Express Mission. Mars Express is an ESA spacecraft that was launched on June 2, 2003, and put in orbit around Mars on Dec. 25, 2003. A group of UI researchers is responsible for a major part of the Mars Advanced Radar and Ionospheric Sounder (MARSIS) instrument, one of seven instruments carried on the spacecraft.

The primary purpose of MARSIS is to use very specialized ground-penetrating radar to search for subsurface water at Mars. The UI was primarily responsible for the device's radar antenna and the transmitter. The display will feature numerous images of Mars, including impressive three-dimensional stereoscopic images of Mars' craters and canyons and photographs of the spacecraft and the MARSIS instrument.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007,