NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin and a panel of senior space scientists and engineers will discuss NASA's plans for robotic exploration of Mars and, specifically, the two U.S. missions set for launch to the planet this fall, during a press briefing on Wednesday, October 16, at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Members of the press are invited to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to watch the live press conference on NASA Television, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. A question-and- answer session will begin immediately after the briefing at participating NASA centers.

Administrator Goldin is scheduled to open the briefing with remarks on NASA's vision for Mars exploration. Dr. Wesley Huntress, NASA associate administrator for the Office of Space Science, will speak at 10 a.m. PST on the goals of the space agency's long-term Mars Surveyor Program and on NASA's cooperation with Russia in the Mars '96 mission. Dr. Michael Carr of the U.S. Geological Survey then will discuss the state of scientific knowledge about Mars and what major questions the upcoming missions will help answer.

This will be followed by a JPL panel of speakers focused on detailed discussions of the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) orbiter and Mars Pathfinder lander missions, featuring:

Glenn Cunningham, MGS project manager

Dr. Arden Albee, MGS project scientist

Anthony Spear, Mars Pathfinder project manager

Dr. Matthew Golombek, Mars Pathfinder project scientist

Mars Global Surveyor is set for launch on November 6 and Mars Pathfinder is set for launch on December 2, both on Delta II launch vehicles, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL. An on-time launch of Mars Pathfinder would result in its landing in the Ares Vallis region of Mars on July 4, 1997. Mars Global Surveyor arrives in orbit around Mars in September 1997 and, after several months of aerobraking in the upper atmosphere of Mars, will begin its primary mapping mission in March 1998.

In addition to the press briefing, NASA Television will dedicate its video file that day to Mars, barring any breaking news events. The video file airs at 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. PST.

NASA Television is located on Spacenet 2, transponder 5, channel 9, C-band, located at 69 degrees west longitude with horizontal polarization. Frequency will be on 3880.0 megahertz, with audio on 6.8 megahertz.

Further information on NASA's plans for robotic exploration of Mars can be accessed on the Internet at the following URL: A press kit describing the upcoming Mars missions can be found at: (Caution: 1.6 megabyte pdf file).

News Media Contact