artist's concept of a smart lander
In a move designed to align the lab with NASA's new exploration agenda outlined by President George W. Bush, Dr. Charles Elachi, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has announced personnel changes and the formation of a new office at JPL.

"We are adding an Exploration Systems and Technology Office at JPL," said Elachi. "This new office will focus and develop JPL's skills to best support America's future space endeavors."

Mike Sander has been appointed manager of the new Exploration Systems and Technology Office. He will be responsible for all JPL activities and missions related to NASA's new Office of Exploration Systems, except the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter. Sander had served as project manager for the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory mission.

"It is an exciting vision and a wonderful opportunity for the country," said Sander. "We will need the best and the brightest people to carry it through, and I know the Exploration Systems and Technology Office will do its part."

Mars Exploration Rover project manager Pete Theisinger has been selected as the new project manager for the Mars Science Laboratory offices. The Mars Science Laboratory, the next generation of Mars rover, is slated for launch in the fall of 2009.

"It is an easy transition for me," observed Theisinger, "because I leave the rover mission in such capable hands. While I will be watching and observing the many discoveries of Spirit and Opportunity to come, I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead of me with the Mars Science Lab."

Replacing Theisinger at the helm of the Mars Exploration Rover mission is Richard Cook, who had served as deputy project manager. As the new project manager, Cook will lead the 400 people working around the clock on NASA's current mission of discovery to the red planet.

For additional information about NASA on the Internet, visit: http://www.nasa.gov.

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