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Hispanic astronauts, astronomers share visionof new worlds through Hispanic Heritage Month

As part of their special 1998 Hispanic Heritage Month series, StarDate, the nation’s longest-running science program on radio, and Universo, the most widely syndicated Spanish-language program in the United States, will be featuring interviews with Space Station Mission Specialist Carlos Noriega and Ellen Ochoa, the country’s first Hispanic woman astronaut in space.

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AUSTIN, Texas As part of their special 1998 Hispanic Heritage Month series, StarDate, the nation’s longest-running science program on radio, and Universo, the most widely syndicated Spanish-language program in the United States, will be featuring interviews with Space Station Mission Specialist Carlos Noriega and Ellen Ochoa, the country’s first Hispanic woman astronaut in space.

Astronomer Sergio Fajardo-Acosta’s search for extrasolar planets also will be highlighted. StarDate and Universo’s Hispanic Heritage Month radio programs, which celebrate the contributions Latinos make to space exploration, will broadcast nationally Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and also will be distributed to the 1,250 K-12 school teachers that make regular use of the StarDate and Universo classroom materials.

Said NASA’s Ochoa, “When I was selected as an astronaut, it never ocurred to me that there would be such an outpouring of enthusiasm and support from the Hispanic community. A lot of people have personally told me how it’s made them think about what goals they want out of their lives.”

StarDate, celebrating 20 years on the air as the longest-running science radio program, and Universo, whose phenomenal growth can be attributed in part to the country’s expanding Hispanic market, are jointly producing and distributing English-and Spanish-language radio programs and educational materials for radio stations and K-12 schools with an estimated audience of 9 million radio listeners and 125,000 students nationwide. Latino artist Gabriel Gaytán’s original poster interpreting Hispanic and pre-Hispanic contributions to space exploration also will be distributed to another 25,000 K-12 science teachers across the U.S.

“The response we received from radio stations and teachers to the 1997 pilot Hispanic Heritage Month programs was very positive, and we are pleased to be able share the space exploration contributions of Hispanics with an even larger U.S. audience this year,” said Dr. Frank Bash, director of McDonald Observatory at The University of Texas at Austin. “We hope the Hispanic Heritage Month programs will inspire young Americans to consider careers in science and technology as they develop into our skilled workforce of tomorrow.”

The production and distribution of StarDate and Universo’s 1998 Hispanic Heritage Month programs and materials are made possible by the following underwriters: Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium, Texas Space Grant Consortium, The National Science Foundation, National Science Teachers Association’s Science and Children journal, and the UT Austin McDonald Observatory and Department of Astronomy Board of Visitors.

For more information on StarDate and Universo’s 1998 Hispanic Heritage Month Programs, or for a list of participating radio stations in your area, contact Susanne Harm at StarDate: (512) 475-6760, susanne@astro.as.utexas.edu or Martin Acevedo at Universo: (512) 475-8843, ace@astro.as.utexas.edu. Visit StarDate/Universo’s HHM Press Release site ( http://StarDate.utexas.edu/pr/hhm98.html) for a variety of downloadable NASA photos to accompany this press release.