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Poll: Kids look forward to rock climbing on Mars

A good place to rock climb?
A good place to rock climb?  

By Richard Stenger

(CNN) -- Most think humans will reach Mars within their lifetimes. Many expect to make the trip themselves. And rock climbing will be tops among recreational activities. Such are the aspirations of thousands of U.S. schoolchildren.

More than 2,600 youngsters took part in the online poll, released Thursday by the organizers of Space Day, an annual event designed to bolster interest in science, math and space among youths.

"It's exciting and encouraging that the spirit of exploration is alive and that students see it occurring in their lifetime," said Orlando Figueroa, director of NASA's Mars Exploration program. "These may well be the children that make it a reality."

Among the findings of the 2002 survey:

  • Seventy percent of respondents thought a manned mission would reach Mars within the next 10 or 20 years.
  • Nearly 25 percent plan to visit the red planet personally.
  • More than 50 percent anticipated rock climbing as the most fun activity.
  • After Mars, the next most popular destination planet for the future space explorers was Pluto.

    For Space Day 2002, however, the focus was the red planet. And to commemorate the event, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., hosted a two-hour webcast.

    Planetary experts and NASA astronauts alike took part to discuss Mars exploration and field online questions from young people. To find out more about Space Day or the survey results, visit:




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