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John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5026
E-mail: jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov
February 8, 2007
 
RELEASE : 07_05AR
 
 
NASA Ames Researchers Featured at Annual Science Meeting
 
 
NASA researchers will discuss Mars as a life-sustaining planet, potential asteroid impacts on Earth, studying the cosmos from the moon and various other topics at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Francisco.

The meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 15 through Monday, Feb. 19, 2007, at three San Francisco hotels. The meeting’s newsroom is located in the Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., Grand Ballroom I. Sessions also will take place in The Hilton San Francisco, 333 O’Farrell St.; and the Parc 55, 55 Cyril Magnin St. (formerly Renaissance Park). Sessions are open to registered news media. AAAS has embargoed presentation information until the session, lecture or related news briefing, whichever comes first.

Following are several noteworthy presentations by researchers from NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., listed in chronological order:

NEWS BRIEFING -- THE NEW MARS TIME: Thursday, Feb. 15, 10 a.m. PST LOCATION: Nikko Ballroom III (on 3rd floor of Hotel Nikko) NASA Ames scientists David Morrison, David Des Marais and Tori Hoehler will participate in a news briefing to discuss potential living conditions on Mars in the past and the future. A related paper in the journal Science also will be released at the briefing.

SYMPOSIUM – THE NEW MARS: HABITABILITY OF A NEIGHBOR WORLD TIME: Friday, Feb. 16, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. PST LOCATION: The Hilton San Francisco, Ballroom Level, Room: Franciscan C Topics include recent discoveries about the origin of Mars, the history of its water and climate and Mars’ past and future potential to support life. NASA Ames scientists David Des Marais, Tori Hoehler and Chris McKay will discuss their research.

Des Marais will discuss “Assessing the Potential for Ancient Habitable Environments in Mars’ Gusev Crater.” “The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit has searched for evidence that past environments might have been able to sustain life. Life requires chemical building blocks, sources of energy and conditions that can sustain liquid water. Water has extensively altered bedrock in the Columbia Hills in Gusev Crater. This alteration process could have provided chemical energy for microorganisms, had they been present,” Des Marais said. Hoehler’s talk is entitled, “A Follow the Energy Approach for Mars Exploration.” All life requires energy in addition to liquid water, according to Hoehler. “Therefore, focusing on identifying the energy requirements of organisms and on how the environment can supply that energy will help us identify and target sites on Mars that have been highly likely to be able to support life,” Hoehler said. McKay will speak about “Resources for Life on Mars, Both Past and Future.” According to McKay, there is compelling evidence that early in its history Mars had liquid water on its surface and a thick carbon dioxide atmosphere. “The resources and habitats needed for life may have been present on early Mars,” McKay said. “On Mars today, the basic life support resources are also present and accessible. This enhances the possibilities for human exploration, and may allow for reconstruction of habitable conditions on Mars,” McKay added.

NEWS BRIEFING – THE SEARCH FOR KILLER ASTEROIDS TIME: Friday, Feb. 16, 2 p.m. PST LOCATION: Nikko Ballroom III (on 3rd floor of Hotel Nikko) NASA Ames scientist David Morrison will be available during a news briefing to discuss how an asteroid impact on Earth might be avoided. Speakers will include Steven Chesley, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Russell Schweickart (former Apollo-era astronaut), Association of Space Explorers; Edward Lu, astronaut, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston; and Paul Slovic, Decision Research, Eugene, Ore.

SYMPOSIUM – APOPHIS NOW: PREDICTING AND AVOIDING AN ASTEROID IMPACT TIME: Saturday, Feb. 17, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. PST LOCATION: The Hilton San Francisco, Continental Ballroom 8 NASA Ames researcher David Morrison will moderate a discussion about how scientists are studying whether asteroid Apophis will hit Earth in 2036. “This 300-meter-diameter asteroid will pass within a few thousand kilometers of Earth on April 13, 2029. Depending on its exact trajectory, it has a small chance of returning to collide with Earth on April 13, 2036,” Morrison said. “Speakers will discuss the nature of the orbit, and how it is being refined to determine whether there is a real risk of collision in 2036.” Former Apollo-era astronaut Russell Schweickart, co-organizer of the session, will speak about “Apophis and International Policy Implications.”

NEWS BRIEFING -- MOONSTRUCK TIME: Saturday, Feb. 17, 11 a.m. PST LOCATION: Nikko Ballroom III (on 3rd floor of Hotel Nikko) NASA Ames Research Center Director S. Pete Worden will participate in a news briefing to discuss the potential for making astronomical observations of the cosmos from the moon. “The absence of a substantial lunar atmosphere has long tantalized astronomers,” Worden noted. Other speakers will include: Paul Spudis, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md.; G. Jeffrey Taylor, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology; Harrison H. Schmitt (former Apollo-era astronaut and former U.S. Senator), University of Wisconsin; and Wendell W. Mendell, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston.

SYMPOSIUM – DESTINATION MOON: THE VALUE OF THE MOON FOR ASTRONOMICAL AND ASTROPHYSICAL INVESTIGATIONS TIME: Saturday, Feb. 17, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. PST LOCATION: The Hilton San Francisco, Continental Ballroom 6 NASA Ames’ Worden will discuss how the moon may be used as a place to conduct astronomy. “The infrastructure established for lunar surface activities will open new gateways to astronomy by virtue of the creation of new capabilities,” Worden said. “The astronomical community has an opportunity to carefully consider these possibilities as the Vision for Space Exploration unfolds,” Worden added. Other speakers include Spudis, Taylor, Schmitt and Mendell.

For more information about the AAAS meeting, please visit:

http://www.aaas.org/meetings/Annual_Meeting/

 

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