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Web-interactive model of Mars surface to be installed at ASU by Herberger College art student

January 08, 2004

TEMPE, Ariz. – Installation of an interactive model of the surface of Mars, created by a Herberger College ceramics student, begins at ASU’s Moeur building – the home of ASU’s Mars Space Flight Center – today.

Steve Hilton, a ceramic artist studying for his master of fine arts degree at ASU’s Herberger College School of Art, will install his 10 by 15 foot clay model of the Mars surface between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. this Thursday and Friday, Jan. 8 and 9. The artist will continue work on the landscape next week, adding color to resemble the stunning color photos sent to earth by the rover, “Spirit,” this week.

Hilton’s artwork forms the landscape over which Web users will be able to drive a Lego model of the Mars rovers using remote control technology. The interactive online display will provide viewers with a personal link to the latest Mars exploration voyage that has captivated the world since it landed on Saturday, Jan. 3. When the interactive aspect becomes operational it will be accessible through the educational Web site,

The Mars Space Flight Center at ASU has designed one of the instruments on board the two real Mars rovers, as well as instrumentation aboard the orbiters that relay the rovers’ discoveries back to earth. The program’s principal investigator, Dr. Philip Christenson, is currently in Pasadena, Calif., operating the Thermal Emission Spectrometer on “Spirit,” the first of the two rovers, as it explores the Mars surface.

Hilton used almost a ton of clay to create the model, which resembles but is not an exact replica of, the red planet’s surface. He is uniquely qualified to create the landscape model, because prior to working on his MFA in ceramics at ASU’s Herberger College, Hilton taught Astronomy to high school students for 10 years. He also has a Bachelor of Science in Geology.

The result of Hilton’s unique combination of knowledge and talent is an installation that combines art and science for an interactive experience accessible to both visitors to ASU’s Mars Space Flight Center and anyone with online access.

The Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University educates more than 2,500 students annually and encompasses the School of Art, the School of Music, the Department of Theatre and the Department of Dance, as well as the research-based Institute for Studies in the Arts and the ASU Art Museum. Visit the Herberger College School of Art on the Web at

Media Contact:
Jennifer Pringle