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NASA Invites Media to Meet Mars Mobile Lab
GREENBELT, Md. -- NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. invites reporters to participate in a special Media Day that will highlight NASA's Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument suite set to explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity rover.

Media Day will be held on Thursday, November 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. ET.

On display will be a one-third-scale model of the Curiosity rover, the robotic explorer on the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Reporters will have an opportunity to learn more about the SAM suite of instruments that were designed and built at Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Highlights of the tour include:
  • Curiosity rover chat with science team
  • Spacecraft, instrument and team member videos
  • View the SAM Instrument in the clean room
  • Tour of the Organic Geochemistry Lab
A briefing will be held with Paul Mahaffy, the Principal Investigator for SAM and the Chief of Goddard's Atmospheric Experiments Laboratory. Other science team members will be on hand for a Q&A session.

The Curiosity rover is the size of a mini-cooper and will be the largest and most capable rover to negotiate the surface of Mars. The SAM instrument suite will evaluate the habitability of the Martian environment by collecting samples of the soil and atmosphere and analyzing them with three scientific instruments: a quadrupole mass spectrometer, a gas chromatograph and a tunable laser spectrometer. The clues collected by the SAM instruments will help scientists answer the question, "What do the presence or absence and characteristics of key compounds at Mars tell us about the ability of Mars to support past or present life?"

Led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and scheduled to launch in the fall of 2011, the Curiosity mission is the next step in NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The rover will comb the surface of the planet looking for clues that Mars once had the ability to support microbial life and may still today.

Reporters interested in attending should contact Cynthia O'Carroll at 301-286-4647, 410-507-0958 or at by 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Nov. 16 to reserve a space and provide names for security badges. Reporters should meet at the Goddard Visitor Center, located off Greenbelt Road (State Route 193) and ICESat Road no later than 9:00 a.m. ET to allow sufficient time for inspection of equipment and security badge distribution. Reporters will travel on a van to the tour site.

For more information about SAM:

For more information about MSL:
Goddard Release No. 10-106

Cynthia M. O'Carroll
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.