Mars Exploration Rovers

Ten Years: Paving the Way for Humans to Mars

January 7, 2014 | 10:30am - 12:00pm
Museum in Washington, DC

The program will be broadcast live on NASA Livestream

In the summer of 2003, two exploration rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, were launched by NASA. Their objective: a 90-day study of Mars to evaluate geologic history and evidence for past water. The rovers landed on opposite sides of the planet in January, 2004. Spirit ceased communication with Earth in 2010, but remarkably, Opportunity is still functioning.

The National Air and Space Museum and NASA will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission with a panel discussion that highlights the developments and discoveries from the program and looks at future Mars missions that may involve humans.

The first segment of the program will outline the Mars Exploration Rover mission and its achievements. Panelists will include John Grant, supervisory geologist, National Air and Space Museum's Center for Earth and Planetary Studies and Science Operations Working Group chair, MER mission; David Lavery, program executive for Solar System Exploration, NASA; and Steven Squyres, Mars Explorations Rovers principal investigator and professor of astronomy, Cornell University. The moderator will be Pamela Conrad, deputy principal investigator, NASA's  Goddard Space Flight Center.

The second segment will discuss the future of Mars exploration, including the potential for human missions to the planet. Panelists will include Mary Voytek, director, NASA astrobiology program; John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA; John Connolly, acting chief exploration scientist, NASA; and Alyssa Carson, winner of NASA's Passport to Explore Space program.

More information on the exhibition can be found here.