NASA is holding a contest to name the twin soil-penetrating probes to be launched today aboard the Mars Polar Lander.
The probes, formally known as Deep Space 2, can be named after people, places or things from history, mythology or fiction. The only conditions: NASA wants the two names to relate to one another, and any people they're named after must be dead.
The names of explorers or pioneers are welcome, the names of superheroes are not. So forget Batman and Robin.
Entries must be accompanied by an essay of no more than 100 words explaining why the names were chosen. The deadline is April 30, 1999.
Entry rules and forms are available at this Internet address: http://nmp.jpl.nasa.gov/ds2/contest/index.html
Entries also can be mailed to: Deep Space 2 Naming Contest, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Mail Stop 301-235, Pasadena, Calif. 91109-8099.
The grand prize has yet to be announced. All 25 finalists will receive a Deep Space 2 poster signed by the project team.