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NASA and Smithsonian to Host 10 Year Anniversary Events for Mars Rovers

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Media and public are invited to attend events hosted by NASA and the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum (NASM), in Washington, to commemorate 10 years of roving across Mars.

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Anniversary activities will showcase the images and achievements of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, both launched by NASA in the summer of 2003. Activities also will highlight how Mars robotic exploration and discovery will aid plans for a future human mission to Mars.

Spirit and Opportunity completed their three-month prime missions in April 2004 and went on to perform extended missions for years. The rovers made important discoveries about wet environments on ancient Mars that may have been favorable for supporting microbial life. Although Spirit ceased communicating with Earth in March 2010, the Opportunity rover continues its work on the Red Planet.

Anniversary events include (all times Eastern):

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 8:30 to 10 a.m.: The museum will host a media breakfast and briefing to unveil a new exhibit featuring more than 50 mosaic and panoramic photographs taken by the rovers. From a view of the sun setting over the rim of a crater, to a study of "abstract dunes," to a shot of rover tracks disappearing over the horizon, the images were chosen for their scientific and aesthetic content by Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission team members. A full-scale model of the rovers also will be on display. The event will be held on the museum's second floor outside its Flight in the Arts Gallery at Independence Ave. and 6th Street, SW, Washington. For additional information, contact Alison Mitchell at 202-633-2376.

Briefing participants are:
-- Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey, director, NASM
-- James Green, director, Planetary Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington
-- John Grant, supervisory geologist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, NASM, and science operations working group chair for the MER mission
-- Steven Squyres, professor of astronomy, Cornell University, and principle investigator for the MER mission

Tuesday, Jan. 7, 10:30 a.m. to noon:  NASA and the museum will facilitate two panel discussions on Mars robotic and human missions. Held in NASM's Moving Beyond Earth gallery, participants will discuss the MER program and its scientific successes. Participants also will provide updates on the agency's activities to advance a human mission to Mars in the 2030s.

Panel I: Moderator – Pamela Conrad, Curiosity rover scientist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
-- John Grant
-- Steven Squyres
-- David Lavery, program executive, Solar System Exploration, NASA HQ

Panel II: Moderator – James Green, director, Planetary Science, NASA HQ
-- John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA HQ
-- Mary Voytek, director, Astrobiology, NASA HQ
-- John Connolly, acting Chief Exploration Scientist, NASA HQ
-- Alyssa Carson, NASA Passport Winner and student from Baton Rouge, LA.

NASA Television and the agency's Web site will provide live coverage of the event. The discussion will also be Webcast live at:
www.livestream.com/mars

Reporters and the public can ask questions from NASA centers and via Twitter using the hashtag #10YrsOnMars.

Thursday, Jan. 16 at 10 p.m.: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif., will host a public celebration of a decade of rover exploration of Mars. The event will be held in the Beckman Auditorium on the California Institute of Technology campus, 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena. JPL manages the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

The participants are:
-- Charles Elachi, director, JPL
-- Steve Squyres
-- John Callas, project manager, Mars Exploration Rover Project, JPL
-- Bill Nye, chief executive officer of the Planetary Society, Pasadena, Calif.

The event will be streamed live on the Web at:
http://ustream.tv/NASAJPL

Friday, Jan. 17, 10 p.m.: JPL will host a public lecture delivered by John Callas, entitled "The Mars Exploration Rovers: A Decade of Exploration," at the Vosloh Forum on the campus of Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. For more information, contact Guy Webster at 818-354-6278.

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2 p.m.:  JPL will host a media briefing on the Opportunity rover's decade of exploration.  NASA Television and the agency's Web site will provide live coverage of the event. Reporters and the public can ask questions from NASA centers and via Twitter using the hashtag #10YrsOnMars.

Participants will include:
-- John Callas
-- Steve Squyres
-- Ray Arvidson, Mars Exploration Rovers deputy principal investigator, Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

The discussion will also be Webcast live at:
http://ustream.tv/NASAJPL

For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information on the rovers and the Mars Exploration Program, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/mars

SOURCE NASA

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