Geoffrey Briggs, scientific director of the Center for Mars Exploration at NASA Ames Research Center, will be speaking at the Dec. 14th meeting. His talk, Plans for Mars exploration for the coming decade is an overview of what NASA has planned for Mars in the coming years.
The exploration of Mars by NASA and other space agencies will continue in high gear with launches planned for every opportunity (i.e. every 26 months). The focus of the exploration is the systematic search for evidence of past or even present life on Mars; this astrobiological effort is highly interdisciplinary involving an understanding of the geologic and climate history of Mars as well as calling for a direct search for biomarkers.
Two Mars Exploration Rovers (big brothers of Sojourner) are being readied at JPL for launch in 2003, as is a major mission by the European Space Agency - the Mars Express Orbiter carrying the UK's Beagle 2 Lander.
Toward the end of this decade a large Mars Surface Laboratory (MSL) mission is being planned to carry out key surface science experiments and to demonstrate technologies (such as terminal landing hazard avoidance) that will be needed for a Mars sample return mission in the following years.
Please join us on Dec. 14th.
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