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Three-day meeting on Mars exploration scheduled June 19-21

STANFORD -- The scientific motivations, the space vehicles, the budgets and the international cooperation required to place human explorers on Mars within 20 years will be the subject of the three-day conference "Mars Together" on June 19- 21 on the Stanford University campus.

The meeting is being organized by Stanford's Center for International Cooperation in Space (CICS) and sponsored by the Planetary Society, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Case for Mars consortium.

"The conference will bring participants from Europe, Russia and Japan, as well as NASA's centers and major aerospace corporations," said Bruce Lusignan, associate professor of electrical engineering and director of CICS.

The Monday morning session will be devoted to the scientists, who have new evidence from Martian meteorites that the early atmosphere on Mars had abundant water and carbon dioxide and was similar to conditions on Earth during the first billion years of planetary formation. Did life form on both planets? If so, would comparisons provide valuable new information about the abundance of life in the universe? The scientists will discuss the current state of knowledge on these issues.

The keynote address will be delivered at noon Monday by Louis Friedman, executive director of the Planetary Society. The title of his talk will be "The Pale Blue Dot," after the title of astronomer Carl Sagan's popular book.

The space hardware available for Mars missions will be the subject of the Monday afternoon session. Resources freed by the end of the Cold War, such as Russian heavy boosters and decommissioned ICBMs, hold the promise of dramatically reducing the cost of delivering scientific payloads to Mars. New technology, such as robotics and atmospheric braking, also can be used to make such missions more affordable. The session also will summarize plans for a new generation of fully recoverable launch systems that could replace the aging space shuttle and expendable boosters.

Unmanned Mars missions that are being planned and implemented for the next decade will be the subject of the Tuesday morning presentations. Robotic missions, like the Mars Surveyor, and "faster, cheaper, better" programs like the Discoverer Series will be discussed. The Russian- French program to place an orbiter and exploration balloon at Mars in 1998 and a proposed U.S.- Russian robotic lunar mission also will be described.

The Tuesday luncheon talk will be made by Edward Teller on the subject of "The Need for International Cooperation." He will be introduced by astronaut Tamara Jernigan.

The subject of the final Tuesday session will be future manned missions to the Red Planet. Recent studies that have concluded that such a mission is practical even within current budgets will be reviewed. Discussions of sustainable food supplies and new habitat developments for such a mission also will be discussed.

Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. a public session on Mars exploration will be held in Stanford's Dinkelspiel Auditorium. Scheduled to speak are astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Tamara Jernigan, Louis Friedman from the Planetary Society, Bob Zubrin from Lockheed-Martin Corp., and Chris McKay from NASA Ames Research Center. Film clips from Aldrin's moon walk, Jernigan's shuttle flights, the U.S.-Russian Mir shuttle mission now under way and a sneak preview of a future Mars mission will be shown.

Wednesday morning, the session will consist of three summary panels that address the subjects "Together, International Cooperation," "Mars in Our Lifetime" and continuing plans for "The Case for Mars," a meeting planned for next summer in Boulder, Colo.



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