September 04, 2009

Space scientists meet at ASU to plan Mars exploration

Posted: September 04, 2009
A meteorite lying on the sands of Mars.
Where to go on Mars? A panel of Mars scientists will meet at ASU, Sept. 9-11, to help lay out a course for future exploration of the Red Planet. As seen here in a photo taken July 28, NASA's Mars rover Opportunity is approaching Block Island, a two-foot-wide nickel-iron meteorite with an unusual weathering pattern. NASA/JPL/Cornell image. Download image
September 08, 2009 - September 10, 2009

What should be the nation's goals and priorities for exploring Mars in the 2013-2022 timeframe?

To help answer this question, space scientists from the U.S. and around the world will gather Sept. 9-11 at the University Club on ASU's Tempe campus. Most of the discussions will be open to the public, in person and by Web cast at http://nasa-nai.acrobat.com/psdecadal/. Audio is at (866) 606-4717; use access code 7078222.

The meeting is sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences as part of its efforts to prepare a "Planetary Decadal Survey." The survey is not limited to just Mars but will cover all aspects of solar system exploration. It will broadly canvas planetary scientists to determine current knowledge and then identify the most important scientific questions they will face in the years 2013-2022.

The Mars Panel for the Decadal Survey is chaired by ASU's Philip Christensen, Regents' Professor of geological sciences in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. He is director of the Mars Space Flight Facility and also the principal investigator for several scientific instruments currently operating on NASA spacecraft at Mars.

ASU presenters at the meeting will include Meenakshi Wadhwa, director of the Center for Meteorite Studies, who will speak on the importance of acquiring Martian rock samples; and astrobiology researcher Jack Farmer, who has prepared a white paper on the astrobiological aspects of Mars exploration.

The Decadal Survey's final report, due March 2011, will be used by Congress and the Obama administration to determine which solar system exploration projects and missions should get highest priority in the 2010s.

For the meeting agenda and background white papers, see: http://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/decadal/index.html

Robert Burnham, robert.burnham@asu.edu
(480) 458-8207
Mars Space Flight Facility