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Future of Mars Rover explorations subject of Gardiner lecture

The monumental technological achievement of two Mars rovers sent to the red planet on a 90-day mission in January 2004 and what's to come in the next decade of space exploration will be the subject of this year's Gardiner Memorial Lecture at New Mexico State University.

The public is invited to attend a lecture by Steve Squyres, the principle investigator for the Mars Rover Project, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 26, in the Corbett Center ballrooms.

In addition to his primary role in the development of the Mars Rovers, Squyres will also have a large say in the future exploration of the solar system. He was recently named chairman of the decadal committee responsible for deciding the future of solar system exploration for 2011 to 2021.

"Each time I think about the exploit of putting the rovers on Mars (and maintaining the production of data, long beyond their planned lifetimes) I feel compelled to compare it to other great technological achievements of mankind, but which one? The landing of a man on the moon? The Manhattan project? The construction of the great pyramid of Giza? I don't know, but it certainly belongs in this league," said William Gibbs, physics department head at NMSU's College of Arts and Sciences.

A professor of astronomy at Cornell University, Squyres is known for his research on the history and distribution of water on Mars and the moons of other planets. After earning his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1981, he spent five years as a postdoctoral associate and research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center before returning to Cornell to teach.

The lecture is open to the public and admission is free. His book, "Roving Mars" will be available for purchase, and Squyres will be available for signings following his presentation. For more information contact (575) 646-6711.