NASA Expands Rover Science Team

Artist concept of the Mars Exploration Rover Artist's concept of the Mars Exploration Rover on Mars.
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October 19, 2005

NASA has selected eight new members for the Mars Exploration Rovers' science team.

"Spirit and Opportunity have exceeded all expectations for their longevity and discoveries on Mars, and both rovers are in good position to continue providing even more great science," said Dr. Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters. "Because of this, we want to add to the rover team that collectively chooses how to use the rover's science instruments each day."

The added researchers from Maryland, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona, California, and Washington, D.C., join 49 selected by NASA in 2000 and in 2002 to provide and use the Athena suite of science instruments on the rovers. Team leader is Dr. Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

The newly selected scientists are:

* Oded Aharonson; California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.; Soil structure and stratification as indicators of aqueous transport at the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites

* Barbara Cohen; University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, N.M.; Investigating the nature and origins of Martian impact material with the Mars Exploration Rovers

* Paul Geissler; United States Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Ariz.; Investigations of Mars using the Mars Exploration Rover Athena science payload

* Amitabha Ghosh; Tharsis Inc., Gaithersburg, Md.; A study of the seasonal dependence of atmospheric conditions at the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites using the Miniature Thermal Emission Spectrometer data

* Timothy McCoy; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Investigating the timing of alteration and source of volatiles on Mars

* David Mittlefehldt; NASA Johnson Spaceflight Center, Houston, Texas; Statistical analysis of Mars Exploration Rover Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer data and Columbia Hills geology

* Jeffrey Moore; NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.; Physical and geologic investigations of the surface materials along the Mars Exploration Rover traverses

* R. Aileen Yingst; University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Green Bay, Wisc.; Quantitative clast morphology as a probe to the transport history of sediments at the Mars Exploration Rover landing sites

The original team members are listed at http://athena.cornell.edu/the_mission/scientists.html.

Spirit and Opportunity have been exploring sites on opposite sides of Mars since January 2004. They have found geological evidence of ancient environmental conditions that were wet and possibly habitable. They completed their primary missions three months later and are currently in the third extension of their missions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

Guy Webster (818) 354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.



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