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Arlington, Mars tributes to STS-107

February 3, 2004 -- Arlington National Cemetery and the area near Gusev Crater on Mars were the sites of NASA memorials on Monday to the final crew of Columbia. The two tributes came a year and a day after the loss of Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon during re-entry into the atmosphere.

The astronauts' families and NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe unveiled a monument commemorating the crew and their mission at the national cemetery in Virginia.

Standing 66 inches tall by 48 inches wide, the Vermont marble memorial bears two bronze plaques portraying the Columbia's crew and the shoulder patch worn by the astronauts on their mission. It is located at the cemetery near the similar marker for Space Shuttle Challenger.

"This memorial will remind us of the dedication and sacrifice made by those brave individuals willing to risk their own lives to further humanity's knowledge about space exploration," said O'Keefe. "Our obligation is to ensure their loss was not in vain. We will return the Space Shuttle to flight as safe as humanly possible, and we will continue to lead humanity into the unknown."

O'Keefe also announced yesterday that the Martian hills located east of the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover's landing site would be dedicated to the STS-107 crew.

"Seven hills on Mars are named for those seven brave souls, the final crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia," said the NASA Adminstrator in a seperate press release. "The Columbia crew faced the challenge of space and made the supreme sacrifice in the name of exploration."

Arranged alphabetically from left to right, "Anderson Hill" is the most northeast of Spirit's landing site and is 3 kilometers away. Next are "Brown Hill" and "Chawla Hill", both 2.9 kilometers distant, and then "Clark Hill" at 3 kilometers. "Husband Hill" and "McCool Hill", named for Columbia's commander and pilot respectively, are 3.1 and 4.2 kilometers away. "Ramon Hill" is furthest southeast of Spirit's landing site and is at 4.4 kilometers.

NASA will submit the names of the Mars features to the International Astronomical Union for official designation. The IAU serves as the recognized authority for assigning names to celestial bodies and their surface features.

In January, NASA announced that the site where Spirit's lander settled on Mars was also named in honor of the fallen crew as the Columbia Memorial Station. The rover brought with it a small commemorative plaque bearing the names of the seven astronauts.

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