Montana State University

Lectures on Mars mission Thursday and Friday

October 7, 2009 -- MSU News Service

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
Peter Smith, principal investigator with NASA's Mars Phoenix Mission, will give free, public lectures on Thursday and Friday about the mission and its investigation of water on Mars.

The first lecture will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 8, at the Museum of the Rockies. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The second lecture will be at 4:10 p.m., Friday, Oct. 9, in room 108 of Reid Hall on the Montana State University campus.

The Phoenix Martian lander recently completed a five-month-long investigation of the Martian arctic and found water ice just beneath the dry surface soil. A comparison of Antarctic dry valleys with the Martian polar plains has led to the conclusion that liquid water helped create the minerals in the soil. Snow has been observed falling from overlying clouds, and frost is seen on the surface. Water is clearly part of the climate cycle and leads to the question: Is this a location where life is possible on Mars?

Smith's visit to MSU is sponsored by the MSU Optical Technology Center, the Montana Space Grant Consortium, the Southwest Montana Astronomical Society, and the MSU Student Chapter of SPIE.

Contact: Joe Shaw, 406-994-7261; jshaw@montana.edu