Committee on Science and Technology
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Events :: October 25, 2005

Mars Science Briefing [Mr. Gordon, Mr. Udall]

On October 25th, Ranking Member Bart Gordon and Space Subcommittee Ranking Member Mark Udall co-hosted a briefing on Mars Science for interested staffers.Attendees at the October 25, 2005, Mars Science briefing  Leading this discussion were two distinguished scientists from the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, Dr. Jim Zimbelman and Dr. John Grant.  In addition, Dr. Tim McCoy, the meteorite curator from the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History, brought with him an actual little piece of Mars in the form of a meteorite (ALH84001) for the crowd to see.

Dr. Jim Zimbelman

The first speaker, Dr. Zimbelman, gave us a wonderful overview of the history of Mars exploration and talked about how our perspective of Mars has changed over the years as we have been able to utilize increasingly more sophisticated tools to investigate the planet, from the "canals" Percival Lowell observed with his telescope to the amazingly detailed images that today's orbiters are returning.  He also whetted our appetite for the future of Mars exploration, discussing some of the possibilities for upcoming missions.

Dr. Zimbelman's presentation
PowerPoint (11 MB)
PDF (4.4 MB)

Click on image to enlarge
Opportunity examines its heat shield
Opportunity checks out its heat shield
Spirit looks over Gusev Crater from atop Husband Hill
Spirit looks over Gusev Crater from atop Husband Hill
Spirit snaps Sol setting
Spirit snaps Sol setting
Dr. John Grant

Dr. Grant

The second speaker, Dr. Grant, is a member of the science team for the Mars Exploration Rovers. He is one of the select few who are responsible for deciding where the rovers will go on a daily basis.  With his great insider's perspective, he was able to recap for us many of the adventures that the rovers (and the rover teams) have experienced over the last two years, and some of the exciting science they have uncovered along the way as they have rolled up and down hills, trekked around craters, and ambled through some impressive sand dunes.

In addition to the rover team, the very busy Dr. Grant is also a science team member for the high-resolution camera on the recently launched Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will soon be arriving at Mars.  Dr. Grant explained that this camera will provide the highest resolution images ever taken of Mars from orbit.

Following our speakers, there was time for questions.

Future Democratic events exploring other Earth and space science topics are being planned.

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