The next NASA spacecraft to land on Mars will be the subject of a pair of free public lectures on Thursday, October 21, at Jet Propulsion Laboratory's von Karman Auditorium, and Friday, October 22 at the Pasadena City College Forum, both at 7 p.m. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lecturers Dr. Richard Zurek, project scientist for the Mars Polar Lander, and Dr. Suzanne Smrekar, project scientist for the Deep Space 2 microprobes, will present "Return to Mars."

Mars Polar Lander will touch down on December 3 near the south pole of Mars and use a robot arm to scoop up soil samples that will be tested by scientific instruments onboard. The lander is looking for evidence of water that would help scientists understand the current and ancient climate on Mars. The lander also carries two microprobes that have been piggybacking on the spacecraft during its flight to the red planet. Shortly before Mars Polar Lander sets down, the two Deep Space 2 microprobes will be jettisoned from the lander. They will punch into the Martian soil to a depth of about a meter (about one yard) to test new technologies and look for water.

JPL manages the Mars Polar Lander and the Deep Space 2 missions for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

For more information, call (818) 354-5011 or visit .

News Media Contact