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Scientist to discuss rovers, water, life on Mars

Feb. 5, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A veteran of numerous unmanned missions to Mars will discuss "The Mars Exploration Rover Mission" during a talk at 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 11, in Room 1104 Rood Hall on Western Michigan University's main campus in Kalamazoo.

Presenting the free public lecture will be Dr. Raymond E. Arvidson, chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. His talk will address important aspects of Mars' geology as they relate to the evidence of water and implications for habitability and life.

Arvidson is deputy principal investigator for imaging and spectroscopy experiments on the 2001 Mars lander and rover and the scientific instrument payload for the 2003 Mars Exploration Rover mission, and he is in charge of science operations for landers and rovers in both operations.

The Mars Exploration rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, landed on opposite sides of the Red Planet in January 2004. The intrepid robot pioneers just celebrated their fourth anniversary on the Martian surface, although their missions were originally planned to last only 90 days.

At Washington, Arvidson directs the Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing Laboratory, which is heavily involved in NASA's planetary exploration program. In addition, he heads NASA's Planetary Data System Geosciences Node as well as directs its Regional Planetary Image Center and plays keys roles in several ongoing Mars-related missions.

Arvidson's talk is being sponsored by WMU's College of Arts and Sciences in conjunction with the departments of Biology, Chemistry, Geography, Geosciences, Mathematics and Physics. For more information, contact Kathy Wright at kathryn.wright@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5486. Go to marsrover.nasa.gov/home to learn more about the Spirit and Opportunity rovers.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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