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News Release 21 October 2004
GSA Release No. 04-27
Contact: Christa Stratton

Top Mars Exploration Scientists to Speak in Denver Tuesday, 9 November 2004

Boulder, Colorado - Forget the Greatest Show on Earth. The Greatest Show in the Solar System comes to Denver next month, courtesy of the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting.

Area residents and media will have a rare opportunity to see, hear, and ask questions of top scientists working on active Mars missions at a public forum titled "The Latest (Red) Dirt from the Mission Makers." The forum, sponsored by Subaru of America, Inc., takes place Tuesday evening, 9 November, 7:30-9:00 p.m. at the Colorado Convention Center Ballroom in downtown Denver. No registration is required and media and the general public are invited.

This year five spacecraft are simultaneously exploring Mars, providing an unprecedented look at the intriguing Red Planet. New findings from these active missions are providing powerful new insights into the origins of the solar system and our own planet Earth.

Leading scientists working on these missions will give a non-technical overview of current Mars exploration and the latest findings. Speakers include:

  • Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, lead scientist and principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rover missions.
  • Dr. Daniel J. McCleese, Chief Scientist of the Mars Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California. McCleese will focus on robotics in use in current and future Mars missions.
  • Dr. Michael C. Malin, President and Chief Scientist, Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, CA. Malin has championed the spectacular photographic imaging effort of the Mars Global Surveyor mission, among others.
  • Dr. Philip Christensen, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, and a principal investigator for the THEMIS instrument aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft. Christensen will summarize findings from use of that instrument.
  • Dr. Jeffrey J. Plaut, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech and co-principal investigator of the MARSIS instrument on board the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission. Plaut will describe findings from this remote sensing spacecraft currently in orbit around Mars.

Preceding the Public Forum on Tuesday afternoon, 12:30-6:00 p.m., GSA's Planetary Division is sponsoring a Planetary and Space Art Exhibit in the Colorado Convention Center Room 606/608. Paintings, textural art, photography, and electronic art by scientists and artists will be on display. Access to this visually rich setting is complimentary for journalists who wish to use it. (Note: This exhibit is NOT open to the general public.)

In a related keynote symposium at the meeting, the Mars exploration scientists and others will present the latest mission findings AND discuss how they are being used to inspire young people and teach science in our schools. This Pardee Keynote Symposium, "Seeing Mars with New Eyes: Active Missions, Science Results, and Geoscience Education," is open only to meeting registrants and media who receive complimentary registration. The session takes place Wednesday morning, 10 November, 8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Colorado Convention Center, Ballroom 2/3.

GSA will provide media support before the meeting from its Boulder headquarters and during the meeting from its onsite newsroom, Colorado Convention Center, Room 208. Contact Ann Cairns, GSA Director of Communications, for additional information and assistance. Through Thursday, 5 November, she can be reached at 303.357.1056 or via From Saturday, 6 November, through Wednesday, 10 November, she can be reached at the GSA Newsroom, Colorado Convention Center, 303.228.8570.

Approximately 6200 geoscientists from around the world are expected to attend this 116th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA). Founded in 1882 and headquartered in Boulder, CO, GSA has 17,500 members.


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