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May 29, 2003

Kathleen Burton May 29, 2003
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: 650/604-1731 or 650/604-9000


Members of the news media are invited to NASA Ames Research CenterÕs main auditorium, Bldg. N-201, to attend a live televised broadcast of a Mars Exploration Rover (MER-A) science and mission briefing from NASAÕs Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Friday, June 6, at 11 a.m. PDT. Media representatives are also invited to a live televised broadcast of a prelaunch MER-A briefing from KSC on Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m. PDT at the same location. Media are also invited to view a live broadcast of the launch of the MER-A on Sunday, June 8, also at the same location. Countdown coverage begins at 9:15 a.m. PDT, with the first launch opportunity set for 11:05 a.m. PDT. Several Ames researchers will be available for interviews about MER-A on each day.


The first of two Mars Exploration Rovers, MER-A, is targeted for launch no earlier than Sunday, June 8 at 11:05 a.m. PDT. Liftoff will occur aboard a Boeing Delta II launch vehicle from Pad A at Space Launch Complex 17 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. A second launch opportunity exists at 11:44 a.m. PDT, if necessary.

Should launch be delayed by 24 hours, the two launch times available are 11:02 a.m. and 11:40 a.m. PDT. The planetary launch period window extends through June 19. The second of the two rovers, MER-B, is scheduled to launch June 25.

MER-A will reach Mars on Jan. 4, 2004, and MER-B on Jan. 25. The two MER missions will seek to determine the history of climate and water at two sites on Mars, where conditions may once have been favorable to life. Both rovers are identical. Each rover carries five scientific instruments, including a panoramic camera and microscope, plus a rock abrasion tool that will grind away the outer surfaces of rocks to expose their interiors for examination. The rovers each weigh approximately 400 pounds. They will navigate themselves around obstacles as they drive across the martian surface, traveling up to about 130 feet each martian day. Each roverÕs prime mission is planned to last three months on Mars.


On Friday, June 6 at 11 a.m. PDT, a MER science briefing will be held at the KSC News Center. Participating will be:

¥Dr. Ed Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science, NASA Headquarters

¥Dr. Jim Garvin, Mars lead scientist,, NASA Headquarters

¥Dr. Cathy Weitz, MER program scientist , NASA Headquarters

¥Dr. Joy Crisp, MER project scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

¥Dr. Steve Squyres, MER principal investigator, Cornell University

Immediately following the science briefing, a mission briefing will be held. Participating will be:

¥Dr. Firouz Naderi, Mars exploration program manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

¥David Lavery, MER program director, NASA Headquarters

¥Peter Theisinger, MER project manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

¥Rob Manning, MER entry, descent and landing development manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory


The prelaunch news conference from KSC is scheduled for Saturday, June 7, at 10 a.m. PDT and will be carried live on NASA Television. Participating in the briefing will be:

¥Orlando Figueroa, Mars exploration program director, NASA Headquarters

¥Omar Baez, NASA launch director, NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center

¥Kris Walsh, director of NASA programs, Boeing Expendable Launch Systems

¥Peter Theisinger, Mars Exploration Rover project manager, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

¥Joel Tumbiolo, Launch Weather Officer, 45th Weather Squadron, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.


NASA Television will carry the mission briefings beginning at 11 a.m. PDT on Friday, June 6, and the prelaunch press conference beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 7.

On launch day, Sunday, June 8, countdown coverage will begin at 9:15 a.m. PDT. The post-launch news conference will be broadcast by NASA TV at 12:45 p.m. PDT. A two-way question-and-answer capability will be available from participating NASA field centers. Coverage will conclude after acquisition of the spacecraft by the Deep Space Network approximately one hour after launch, at which time the spacecraft's initial state of health will be reported.

NASA Television is available on satellite GE-2, transponder 9C, located at 85 degrees West longitude. Information about the MER missions is available on-line at:

Audio only of NASA Television coverage of the prelaunch news conference and launch commentary will be available on the ÒVÓ circuits, which may be dialed directly at 321/867-1220, 867-1240, 867-1260 and 867-7135.

The NASA-KSC News Center codaphone will carry recorded MER-A pre-launch status reports beginning at L-3 days, Thursday, June 5, and may be dialed at 321/867-2525.


The Kennedy Space Center web will celebrate the launch of MER-A with the debut of its Expendable Launch Vehicle mission coverage, including special Webcasts on NASA Direct!

For more information about the MER web activities, go to:

For a detailed NASA Direct! event calendar, go to:

For more information about the MER landing sites selected, go to:



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