Mars – The Astrobiology Connection NASA

Ronald Greeley of Arizona State University will be presenting the Director’s Seminar on Monday, May 20, 2002, 11:00am Pacific (12:00pm Mountain, 1:00 Central, 2:00 Eastern). This seminar will outline the key discoveries from past and present exploration and discuss the current plans for the future. The overall strategy for Mars Exploration includes searching (i.e., remote sensing), in situ exploration (e.g., landers/rovers), and sampling (return of materials to Earth), in a continuing, iterative process. The principal goal is to search for evidence of past or present life and to characterize environments conducive for organic evolution. A key aspect of the strategy is the inclusion of Mars Scouts, which are missions led by science Principal Investigators who form a team typically involving NASA centers and aerospace industry for projects that complement the primary missions and provide flexibility to the overall Program. The implementation of the Mars Exploration Program is international, with near-term missions to include NASA’s Mars Exploration Rovers (2003), Japan’s Nozomi orbiter (2003), the European Space Agency Mars Express (2003), NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2005), and the French CNES Premier orbiter and Netlander mission (2007), as well as other potential projects, leading to the eventual return of samples to Earth from well-characterized sites.