Montage of our solar system

"JPL Begins an Exciting Year of Earth and Space Exploration" will be the theme for a free public lecture outlining the year ahead for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, January 16, in JPL's von Karman Auditorium, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

1997 will be a year of extensive Earth and space exploration for JPL. KidSat, a payload of Earth-observing cameras controlled by students, will make its second flight on the space shuttle in January. One of the highlights of the year will occur on July 4, when the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft touches down on the red planet with a small rover robot. An orbiter spacecraft, Mars Global Surveyor will arrive at Mars in the fall. Cassini, the most sophisticated planetary spacecraft ever built, will be launched in October on a seven-year journey to Saturn.

The year also marks the conclusion of the prime mission for the Galileo spacecraft studying the giant planet Jupiter and its moons. Projects such as the TOPEX/Poseidon ocean mapping satellite and the NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT) ocean wind-measuring instrument will continue JPL's extensive studies of Earth through its Mission to Planet Earth program.

Among highlights from other sectors of NASA, in February the space agency will embark on the second servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. During the summer, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous spacecraft will pass through the asteroid belt. In addition, the first element of NASA's international Space Station will be deployed.

The lecture will be hosted by Randii Wessen, supervisor of JPL's Project Science Support Group at JPL and science system engineer for the Cassini mission to Saturn. Previously he has worked on the Galileo mission to Jupiter as deputy sequence team chief, and on the Voyager project in support of the Saturn, Uranus and Neptune encounters.

This lecture is one of the von Karman Lecture Series held monthly by the JPL Public Information Office. Jet Propulsion Laboratory is located at 4800 Oak Grove Drive in Pasadena. A web site dedicated to the lecture series is located at For directions and other information, call the Public Information Office at (818) 354- 5011.

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