Press Release

Planetary Probe Experts Gather at NASA to Discuss Exploration

By SpaceRef Editor
August 24, 2004
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With the successes of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) and Cassini missions fresh on their minds, leading experts on planetary probe missions will gather at NASA to plan for future missions.

Planetary probe experts from around the world will meet this week at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California’s Silicon Valley, for the Second International Planetary Probe workshop. Experts will discuss the latest technologies and techniques for conceiving, engineering and managing missions and the efficient gathering and analysis of data for probe missions to Mars, Venus and other planets.

“The object of the Second International Planetary Probe Workshop is to bring together the community of scientists, technologists, mission designers, project engineers, senior leaders of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), and above all, students who will become the next generation of this community,” said Ethiraj Venkatapathy, chairman of the workshop.

“The workshop provides a venue for dialogue, presentation of findings, exchange of ideas, discussion of future mission challenges and opportunities for future probe missions,” added Dr. Charles Smith, chief of the Space Technology Division at NASA Ames.

Planetary probe missions have caught the imagination of the public by producing spectacular images from the surface of Mars and of the rings of Saturn. In early September, the planetary exploration program will achieve a new milestone. The Genesis probe will return with solar particles that will help scientists answer questions about the origin of the solar system. In early 2005, the Huygens probe, currently being carried by the Cassini spacecraft, will land on Titan, a moon of Saturn that holds immense scientific interest. Later in 2005, the Stardust mission will return to Earth with dust and particle samples from the tail of the comet Wild-2.

The workshop combines expert presentations and panel discussions. The main topics of discussion are the outlook for probe missions, the lessons learned from the MER missions and planning for future Mars probes. Other topics include probe missions to Venus, the solar system’s gas planets and technologies common to all probe missions. The workshop will conclude with presentations on emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and special devices for dealing with extreme environments.

A consortium of NASA field centers, academic, industry and European partners are sponsoring the workshop. Sponsoring NASA field centers include the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.; Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.; and Ames Research Center.

The European sponsoring organizations are the European Space Research and Technology Center, Noordwijk, Netherlands and the European Space Agency, Paris.

Industry sponsors include the Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, Calif.; Applied Research Associates, Inc., Albuquerque; the Boeing Corporation, Chicago; ELORET Corporation, Sunnyvale, Calif., Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation, Boulder Co., and Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, Md.

Additional sponsoring organizations include the University Affiliated Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.; Idaho NASA Space Grant Consortium, Moscow, Idaho; University of Idaho College of Engineering, Moscow; San Jose State University, San Jose, Calif.

For more information about the second interplanetary probe workshop, visit:

NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: News media representatives are invited to cover the Second International Planetary Probe Workshop at NASA Ames Research Center, in California’s Silicon Valley, this week. Experts will discuss the latest technologies and techniques for conceiving, engineering and managing missions and the efficient gathering and analysis of data from probe missions to Mars, Venus and the gas planets including their moons. The workshop is located at the NASA Conference Center. Visit for a detailed workshop schedule. Please call Jonas Dino at 650/604-5612 for directions and clearance to cover the workshop.

SpaceRef staff editor.