Status Report

H. Res. 490 Recognizing and Commending Achievements of NASA, JPL, and Cornell University in Conducting the Mars Exploration Rover Mission

By SpaceRef Editor
January 24, 2004
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Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution (H. Res. 490) recognizing and commending the achievements of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Cornell University in conducting the Mars Exploration Rover mission, and recognizing the importance of space exploration.

The Clerk read as follows:

H. Res. 490

Whereas since its inception in 1958 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has achieved extraordinary scientific and technological feats;

Whereas the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s exploration of space has taught us to view Earth, ourselves, and the universe in a new way, opening our eyes and minds to great and new possibilities;

Whereas for over 40 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has led the world in the robotic exploration of the solar system, commanding the first United States unmanned missions to the Moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and most recently, the edge of our solar system;

Whereas the Jet Propulsion Laboratory began the space age for the United States in 1958 with the successful development and launch of the Explorer 1, the first United States satellite;

Whereas the Jet Propulsion Laboratory conducted the first interplanetary mission, in which the Mariner 2 spacecraft arrived at Venus in December 1962;

Whereas over 100 years ago Russian astrophysicist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky asked, “to observe Mars from a distance of several tens of kilometers, to land on its satellite or even on its surface, what could be more fantastic?”;

Whereas the Jet Propulsion Laboratory fulfilled Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s vision when it navigated the Viking mission, developed the Viking Orbiter, and in 1976 successfully operated the Viking 1 and 2 robot landers on Mars, the first missions to land a spacecraft safely on the surface of another planet;

Whereas more than 26 years after its launch in 1977, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Voyager 1, which unlocked the mysteries of the outer planets of our solar system, continues to expand our understanding of the farthest reaches of our solar system;

Whereas the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Mars Pathfinder successfully landed on the Martian surface on July 4, 1997, launching the first United States free-roving exploration of another planet and inspiring a new generation of children to dream of the heavens;

Whereas after a journey of nearly seven years the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will enter Saturn’s orbit and begin to explore the solar system’s second largest planet on July 1, 2004, and subsequently dispatch Huygens, a European-built probe, to the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon;

Whereas the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Stardust spacecraft, having traveled more than 3,000,000,000 miles, will return to Earth on January 15, 2006, with the first extraterrestrial materials from beyond the orbit of the Moon;

Whereas the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity were launched on June 10, 2003, and July 7, 2003, respectively, on missions to search for evidence indicating that Mars once held conditions hospitable to life;

Whereas Cornell University has led the development of the five science instruments carried by the two Rovers, is leading a science team consisting of 150 preeminent astronomers and engineers in the science investigation for the Mars mission, and is playing a leading role in both the operation of the two Rovers and the processing and analysis of the images and other data sent back to Earth;

Whereas the Rovers’ landing sites were selected on the basis of intensive study of orbital data collected by the Mars Global Surveyor and Mars Pathfinder missions;

Whereas Spirit’s landing site, formerly known as Gusev Crater and renamed Columbia Memorial Station, is thought to have once contained a large lake and may hold water-laid sediments that preserve important records of the lake environment, the sediments’ highlands origins, and the sediments’ river trip;

Whereas Opportunity’s landing site, the Meridiani Planum, contains exposed deposits of a mineral that usually forms under watery conditions;

Whereas each Rover will conduct a three-month scientific study of the geologic records at the sites and evaluate whether those conditions would have been suitable for life;

Whereas each 384-pound Rover, roughly the size of a golf cart, traveled approximately 300,000,000 miles to reach Mars;

Whereas the craft carrying each Rover reaches speeds nearing 12,000 miles per hour when entering the Mars atmosphere before decelerating to a vertical stop in just over six minutes;

Whereas, during the period between entry into the Mars atmosphere and the Rovers’ landing, over one dozen intricate operations need to be performed perfectly at just the right point for the Rovers to survive;

Whereas Spirit successfully completed entry, descent, and landing on January 3, 2004, at 11:35 p.m. eastern standard time, and within hours was beaming photographs of the Martian surface back to Earth;

Whereas Spirit is to be joined on the surface of Mars by its twin, Opportunity, on January 24, 2004; and

Whereas the engineers, scientists, and technicians of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have played a vital role in the Nation’s space program and set an example for the rest of us to follow: Now therefore be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives–

(1) commends the engineers, scientists, and technicians of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Cornell University for their years of effort leading up to the successful entry, descent, landing, and operation of the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit on the Martian surface on January 3, 2004;

(2) recognizes the importance to the Nation and to humanity of the exploration of space; and

(3) honors the achievements of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Cornell University in expanding our comprehension of the universe and fulfilling the human need to explore and understand.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) and the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Gordon) each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher).


Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on H. Res. 490, the resolution now under consideration.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?

There was no objection.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I would consume.

Last week, Mr. Speaker, President Bush unveiled our administration’s vision for space exploration, including humans returning to the moon and eventually traveling on to Mars. The President’s plan envisions a working relationship between both man and machine in charting new pathways for exploring the solar system.

On January 3, we all witnessed a new chapter in America’s continuing space experience with the success and the landing of the Spirit on the martian surface. The creative and hardworking professionals at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and at Cornell University at Ithaca, New York, have once again hit the bull’s eye after a 300-million-mile trip.

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, I rise in support of the gentleman from California’s (Mr. Dreier) resolution, H. Res. 490, to honor NASA and those working on this exciting mission. Over the course of my tenure as chairman, I am particularly pleased that our Members have fought hard on a bipartisan basis to ensure the exploration of neighboring planets and to make the investment in basic research that is so necessary for human progress in the area of technology.

In the past, JPL has managed such spectacular missions as the Ulysses Solar Polar mission and the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and the Viking Landers on Mars, and like so many other missions before them, Spirit, and soon its partner Opportunity, will also dramatically increase the scientific knowledge available to those of us on earth, scientific knowledge that will be put to good use for the benefit of all people.

The collaboration between the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Cornell University, in enabling Spirit to deliver spectacular images of the martian
landscape, is exemplary of the teamwork among public and private sectors and academia. I consider the engineers, technicians and scientists at JPL and Cornell to be space pioneers of the finest tradition and heroes of technology.

Indeed, the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier) also is to be commended for his leadership in spearheading this resolution before us today. We all share the gentleman from California’s (Mr. Dreier) desire to recognize the contributions being made in furthering our knowledge of the heavens. This is a fine tribute to the extraordinary scientific and technological accomplishments of the Nation’s scientific community.

In closing, I applaud our administration’s decision in taking bold steps in renewing our commitment to space exploration. I am confident that the dedicated men and women of our space program will be in the forefront of this Nation’s efforts in taming new frontiers and expanding human knowledge and in leading human progress.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The House today has the pleasant task of congratulating the Mars Exploration Rover team for their success in landing the Spirit Rover on Mars on January 3. The pictures being returned from the surface of Mars reminds us of the excitement that comes from seeing new places for the first time and wondering what we will learn from being there.

NASA , the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Cornell University can be proud of what has been accomplished, and I am pleased to be a cosponsor of this resolution offered here by the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier), the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Rules, my friend, who demonstrated today the power of the Committee on Rules chairman by expediting this motion. I compliment him for that, as well as the gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff) who represents several
of the employees there at JPL.

The premier position of the United States in planetary exploration owes much to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Astronomy textbooks after 1980 had to be rewritten in the aftermath of the epic Voyager mission, and spacecraft developed by JPL have taken us to all of the planets except for Pluto.

But Mars has been a prime target for robotic exploration since the 1960s. There have been both triumphs and setbacks in that exploration as NASA has attempted ever more ambitious missions. The images have been awe-inspiring. For example, Mariner 9 showed us mountains taller than Everest and the immense Valley of the Mariners, a canyon deeper and longer than our own Grand Canyon.

We have learned much from our spacecraft in orbit around Mars, but there is no substitute for being on the surface. The Spirit rover builds on the experience gained from the Viking missions of the mid-1970s as well as from Sojourner, the rover that accompanied Mars Pathfinder to the Red Planet in 1997. This time, however, we are going to visit a lot more of the Martian neighborhood.

The Nation’s future in space has been much on my mind since the terrible day almost a year ago when the Space Shuttle Columbia did not make it home. The critical issue we have to address is how best to use human skills and robotic capacities in NASA’s future programs. It was robotic Ranger and Lunar Orbiter spacecraft that prepared the way to the Moon for Armstrong and Aldrin, and it will be Spirit and its successors that will draw the maps future Martian explorers will carry.

Mr. Speaker, JPL has provided NASA some of its proudest moments, and today we salute its latest accomplishment. I am pleased to join in the resolution proposed by the gentleman from California and recommend its adoption.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from New York (Mr. Boehlert), chairman of the full Committee on Science.

(Mr. BOEHLERT asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. BOEHLERT. Mr. Speaker, I stand today in support of the resolution offered by my colleague, the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Rules, the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier); and I thank him for working with me to ensure that the resolution recognizes the contributions of Cornell University in upstate New York. One of the outstanding attributes of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the way it works with academic and private-sector scientists at universities throughout
the United States, and indeed the entire world. Efforts like the current mission to Mars are truly team efforts in which our entire planet reaches out to other worlds.

We are already seeing the results of that teamwork with the stunning images of the Martian surface that the aptly named Recovery Spirit is beaming back to Earth. Now Spirit is beginning to examine a rock called Adirondack, named after a well-known feature of the upstate New York landscape. We look forward to the other rover, Opportunity, touching down successfully next week and beginning to explore another side of Mars.

The details of the Mars mission are at once mundane and other-worldly, simple to recite, yet mind-boggling to contemplate. Each of these Rovers weighs about 400 pounds and is about the size of a golf cart. Each is fitted with sensitive scientific equipment designed to survey the geology of Mars and help an international team of 150 scientists back here on Earth determine whether water was ever a part of the Martian landscape and whether the planet could once have supported life.

This team of extraordinarily dedicated scientists is led by Dr. Steven Squyers of Cornell University. Dr. Squyers and his team developed the scientific instruments the rover missions carried. They operate them by remote control from over 15 million miles away here on Earth, and they are the chief investigators who will sift through the voluminous streams of data that the Rovers beam back to us daily.

The faculty and students at Cornell who are participating in this wondrous mission of discovery are clearly taking delight in their historic opportunity, and we are blessed to have the benefit of their years of hard work and dedication. I congratulate them and the scientists and engineers at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for their stunning success in the rover missions.

Even though the work on the Martian surface has just begun, the team at JPL and Cornell University have already provided us with priceless inspiration and new ways to see our universe. We look forward with great anticipation to sharing their achievements in the coming days and years.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff).

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

Mr. Speaker, for thousands of years people have looked to the heavens and wondered what was up there, what were the dots of light scattered on the hemisphere of the night sky, what is our place in all of this.

The Moon, the planets, and the stars became part of ancient religions. Heroes were immortalized as constellations. Planets, whose irregular movements and brightness set them apart from the stars, were named after gods. Celestial events foretold the death of kings; they augured victory in war.

But for our ancestors, the changing sky also had a practical effect. For millennia, the movements of the Moon and stars guided the rhythms of human life; they told people when to plant and when to harvest. Wars were planned based on the phases of the Moon.

Even as they wondered, planted, harvested, and fought in keeping with the seasons, people dreamed of visiting these other worlds, of expanding humanity’s realm, of satisfying the human yearning to explore. The telescope, which Galileo first turned to the heavens in 1609, changed our view of the cosmos. The myriad points of light began to resolve themselves into planets with moons, galaxies, nebulae, and clusters of stars. The universe, which had seemed static, was revealed as a
place of infinite distance and incredible dynamism. Our view of space and of ourselves was changed forever.

It would be another 450 years before human beings could begin to take our first forays from the protective cocoon of the Earth. Throughout that time, telescopes grew larger and more powerful; astronomers learned more about our solar system, our galaxy, and the tens of millions of other galaxies throughout the universe. Still, even as the Moon and our nearby planetary neighbors tantalized us, they seemed hopelessly out of reach.

With the development of large rockets after World War II, humans were finally able to escape the Earth’s gravity and venture into space. During the past half century, from the grapefruit-sized Explorer I, which was America’s first satellite, to the International Space Station now being built 200 miles above us, we have begun to learn to operate in the harsh environs of space.

Throughout its existence, America’s space program has operated on dual tracks. On the one hand, we have stressed human space flight, which is costly, often dangerous. With the exception of Apollo lunar landing missions, humans have not ventured beyond the relative safety of low-Earth orbit. The other track we have followed is the robotic exploration of our solar system, using spacecraft that are impervious to the harsh conditions of space and unaffected by the enormous distances necessary to
explore our planetary neighbors.

Our unmanned space probes, from the Ranger and Surveyor craft that paved the way for Apollo, to the Voyager spacecraft that explored the outer planets and are still continuing to send back data even as they leave the solar system, have increased our comprehension beyond anything even contemplated half a century ago.

On Mars, we have witnessed dust storms on Olympus Mons, the largest mountain in our solar system. We have peered through Venus’ clouds at its broiling surface. We have discovered new moons and ring systems around the outer planets. And as we speak, a small spacecraft bearing dust from a comet is zooming back towards the Earth and will parachute into Utah on January 15, 2006.

This summer, the Cassini spacecraft will enter the orbit of Saturn and will dispatch a small probe called Huygens to explore the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by the California Institute of Technology, has designed, built, and controlled all of these programs. JPL has been the pioneer of our exploration of the solar system from the beginning of our space program. Earlier I mentioned JPL’s Explorer I, America’s first satellite. At the time it was launched, the United States has fallen behind the Soviet Union in the space race, and several other attempts at getting an American Sputnik into orbit had ended in
fiery explosions on the launch pad. Not only did Explorer I salvage our pride, but the tiny satellite discovered the Van Allen radiation belts that circle the Earth.

Every American space probe that has visited another planet was managed by JPL. Through the wonders of technology, we have zoomed by Jupiter with Voyager, witnessed a Martian sunset with Viking, and rolled across the surface of Mars with Sojourner.

Whom do we have to thank for unlocking the wonders of our solar system, for providing brilliant three- dimensional images of the Martian surface, and for making us desire even great discoveries? For this, we must thank the women and men of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Each day, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Elachi, the employees of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory work tirelessly to develop and manage America’s robotic exploration of space.

Mr. Speaker, they have done it again. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has brought America back to Mars. I am proud to join with my distinguished colleague and neighbor, the chairman of the Committee on Rules, the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier), in introducing this resolution honoring the men and women of NASA , and especially the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whose years of effort paid off so spectacularly when the Mars exploration rover Spirit landed on January 3.

Mr. Speaker, led by principal investigator, Steve Squyres, Jet Propulsion Laboratory employees like Peter Theisinger, Richard Cook, Rob Manning, Jennifer Trosper, Mark Adler, Jim Erickson, Matt Wallace, Joy Crisp, Joel Krajewski, Jason Willis, Jim Donaldson, and Jan Chodas have worked around the clock since Spirit’s arrival on Mars.

Spirit, the first of JPL’s rovers to land on Mars, and Spirit’s twin, Opportunity, which is scheduled to touchdown on January 24, will conduct a 3-month scientific study to evaluate whether conditions at one time have been suitable for life on Mars. Equipped with cameras, spectrometers, and a grinder, these robotic explorers are poised to unlock the mysteries of Mars. The breadth of their discoveries is yet unknown, but our confidence in their abilities and the ability of the scientists at JPL,
who now live not according to the cycles of their fellow Earthlings but in keeping with the Martian day, is sky high.

Mr. Speaker, Spirit’s landing is another milestone in our exploration of the solar system. Let us take a moment to reflect on this occasion and honor those who made it possible. For tomorrow. Our thirst is renewed and our exploration continues.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Rules, the gentleman from California (Mr. Dreier), and I might add the Member in this body who represents JPL in California.

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend for yielding me this time, and I want to rise and join my colleagues, the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Science, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Boehlert), who very appropriately recognized the important contribution that Cornell University has made in this effort. And I should say that, even though I have been out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada/ Flintridge, the people in that town like to say that, as well as Pasadena.
Pasadena and La Canada/Flintridge both claim the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. My friend, the gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff), used to represent La Canada/Flintridge. He represents the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and I am privileged to actually represent the facility of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is in La Canada/Flintridge.

But as I am at JPL, I have to say to my friend from New York that I have regularly seen the pennants of Cornell University hanging in that facility. So Cornell has a very great presence; and as the gentleman from New York (Mr. Boehlert) said, Dr. Steven Squyers, who was the principal investigator, has in fact played a big role in recognizing the importance of Cornell to this project.

The gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher), my colleague, I am happy to say was with us the night we were able to get images back, the night after the Mars exploratory rover Spirit landed, and has been a real visionary when it comes to the issue of space exploration. I also want to join in congratulating the former member of the Committee on Rules, the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Gordon), who is now, I am happy to say, the ranking minority member of not only the subcommittee
that the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher) chairs but of the full Committee on Science; and of course my friend, the gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff), who, as I said, did represent JPL and still continues with a very strong dedication to the science program and this great vision that is out there.

The gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff) gave a great outline of the history of the fascination that we as humans have had for outer space. I think that as we look at where we are going, it is amazing to see this debate which is raging on right now. I am somewhat saddened to hear some of my colleagues refer to the vision that the President set forth in his speech before the employees of NASA a week or so ago as being a joke. I know there are a lot of people who are very cynical about
this whole notion of vigorously pursuing the goal of further pursuit of exploration in space, the Moon and Mars in particular.

The reason I am discouraged about it is that I regularly look now into the
eyes of young children who have this great fascination as they look towards the challenge of space exploration. One of the things that is particularly encouraging for me is that that same kind of fascination exists among many Members of Congress, not all but many Members of Congress, and it also exists today among every single one of those people who were named by the gentleman
from California. Charles Elachi and the great team, Steve Squyres and Pete Theisinger and all those whom the gentleman from California mentioned continue to have that same fascination and they also have this amazing intellectual curiosity which has played such a big role in pursuing this.

Mr. Speaker, it is impossible for us to describe in words the kind of excitement that has gone into this. The gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff) and I have ridden the roller coaster ride. Four years ago last month, we saw the failure of the Mars polar lander. I had the opportunity to wait night after night at JPL to try and get some kind of message of a word back. Unfortunately we failed. But I am so often reminded of the words of Dr. Ed Stone, who was the predecessor of Director
Charles Elachi, who said to me 4 years ago, this past month, “David, if we don’t take risks, we won’t learn anything.”

That is really what this is all about, taking risks. As we rapidly approach the first anniversary of the tragic loss of those lives in the space shuttle Challenger, we can think about those seven men and women who lost their lives a year ago as we look at the great success that we are now experiencing with the Mars exploratory rover program. We have seen the successful landing and messaging coming back from Spirit. This coming weekend, I know my friend, the gentleman from California
(Mr. Schiff) will be in at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as we see what I know we all hope and pray will be the same kind of success as we get messages back after seeing the successful landing on another part of the planet of the Mars exploratory rover named Opportunity. Spirit and Opportunity. The names of the two rovers in many ways is exactly what this is all about.

There is one name of someone who was not mentioned by my friend, the gentleman from California (Mr. Schiff), who I would like to point to as an individual who actually played a role in the first Viking program nearly 3 decades ago, in 1975 and 1976. He is an individual who was probably the youngest person who was involved in that program 30 years ago, and today he is probably, if not the oldest, one of the oldest involved in the Mars exploratory rover program. His name is Gentry Lee.
He has a fascinating outline of what it has been like going from 1975 all the way up to today.

Mr. Speaker, it is so clear that we have limitless opportunities as we look at space exploration. The kinds of tangible evidence that we have seen improving our quality of life continues to go on and on and we still do not know what kinds of opportunities we will find. One of the naysayers was on television the other day. He said in criticizing this program, if we had Mars covered with gold and we went to Mars to get this gold and bring it back, it would cost more to do that than the value of
the gold itself. When we look at the imaging technology that has been created with MRIs, when we look at the cellular technology and the satellite telephones and the tremendous advances that have been made technologically not only in the health area but in the area of communications and security, we have transcended the cost of that gold, the value of that gold with what it is that we are doing here.

And so, Mr. Speaker, I simply want to congratulate all of my colleagues who have been involved in this effort and I want to thank all who have joined as cosponsors of this resolution. I also want to include the appropriations subcommittee members who have been so important in this effort too, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Walsh) and the gentleman from West Virginia (Mr. Mollohan) who have been very helpful and have joined as cosponsors. I thank again my colleague from Huntington
Beach for his leadership and his continued vision, and I hope very much that we are able to, in a bipartisan way, pursue the goals that have been set forth with President Bush’s very dynamic plans for space exploration.

Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Smith), the distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on Research.

Mr. SMITH of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, first let me thank Chairman Dreier, certainly Chairman ROHRABACHER and the rest of the cosponsors of the bill. Let me also thank the scientists at JPL, at Cal Tech, at Cornell that not only have a tremendous amount of knowledge but a tremendous amount of dedication to move ahead on these ventures, often at the sacrifice of a lot of their personal time.

My family has been very involved in JPL. On the 4th, two of my daughters, Stacia Smith and Juliana Bellinger, were at JPL, I like to think, representing me on January 4 at the successful landing. My son did his engineering degree at Cornell and my daughter and her husband, Elizabeth and Fred Burnette, worked at JPL for 8 years. Elizabeth studied physics at Cornell. Just the accomplishments and the excitement that it has brought to this country over the years, somehow it would be nice to renew
that kind of dedication and achievement. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Research, research is going to be the key to our future economy, so developing the kind of products that people around the world want to buy and developing the ways to produce those products at a competitive cost is part of the key to our continued economic success.

In conclusion, my very great compliments to the scientists and the management at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and again my thanks to the gentleman from California (Mr. Rohrabacher).

Mr. GORDON. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Ehlers).

Mr. EHLERS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the new ranking member of the committee for his kindnesses and generosity. That bodes well for the future.

Science is fun. I can vouch for that as someone who has been a practicing scientist for over 2 decades. Science is also interesting. And science is rewarding. All of that is epitomized by the success of the rover that is currently on Mars transmitting pictures to us and also scientific data and information to us. I am very pleased to join in congratulating the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and their scientists for the successful landing and operation of the rover Spirit on Mars. For over 40 years,
the dedicated scientists at JPL have built cutting-edge robotic explorers that have investigated other planets and the far reaches of our solar system and even beyond. These missions have opened windows to the universe, provided us with invaluable scientific information and inspired generations of scientists and engineers.

Just 2 months ago, I was privileged to lead a group of science committee members on a tour of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. That tour included an exciting meeting with Dr. Daniel McCleese, who is the chief scientist and Dr. Peter Theisinger, the project manager for the Mars exploration project. Their enthusiasm and devotion to this work was clearly evident during our discussion, and it epitomizes the excitement that the scientists at JPL have. They worked endless hours and I am sure they are
so interested and excited in their work that they would be willing to do that work without pay if they had some other means of putting food on the table.

Science is fun, as I said, and it is very clear that this grand experiment on Mars is exciting and interesting to our students, our children at our elementary and secondary schools. That is extremely important, because we do not have enough Americans studying science and engineering. Our engineering enrollments in American universities have steadily declined in the last 20 years. One of the reasons is that children in our schools are not excited enough about science. I want to thank JPL and NASA
for their efforts to stimulate the excitement of the students in the schools and help generate a new generation of scientists and engineers.

I certainly want to congratulate JPL and all its partners on this latest success in landing the rover Spirit on
Mars. It is truly moving to see the years of devoted scientific work succeed in this effort.

As I saw the first pictures coming back, tears welled in my eyes at the tremendous advancements in science that we are seeing. This experiment also epitomizes what we must do if we are to meet the President’s vision. We cannot just pop humans in a space capsule and send them off to Mars. There is an incredible amount of groundwork to be done and the Spirit is one example of the type of work that we have to do if we are going to explore our planetary systems. These experiments are far, far less
expensive than sending a human being to Mars and we will have, I would estimate, at least 20 and perhaps even 40 years of such experiments before we are ready to tackle the very difficult and expensive task of sending a human to another planet.

I congratulate once again the JPL crew for their work, and not only JPL, but all of NASA and all the scientific community in the United States. The scientists and engineers continue doing this work in generally anonymity. The great excitement we see them exhibiting as they succeed in their experiments is typical of what goes on in laboratories across the United States, and in fact, across the world, but which we, as laymen, never tend to see. Science is a great profession. It is fun, it is interesting,
but especially it is important to the human spirit and important to the success of our Nation and the improvement of the prosperity and the general knowledge of this country. Thank you, JPL.

Mr. ROHRABACHER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

First and foremost, Mr. Speaker, let me congratulate the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Gordon). He has been a terrific partner in these efforts that we have gone through in these last 5 years. To the degree that our country has had successful space missions and is developing technologies that will help us on Earth, it has a lot to do with the bipartisan spirit that we have had in our subcommittee and the great and hard work and responsible leadership that the gentleman from Tennessee
has provided. He is moving up now. He will be missed.

The bipartisan spirit I talk about is so evident in everything that we do in this subcommittee. Let me note that there are no Democrats and Republicans, there are Americans in our subcommittee. We work together as such. We all believe that if America is to be a prosperous country, if our people are to live good lives and see our standard of living increase for average Americans, that we must remain a major power in space, we must develop the technologies and the science that is necessary to uplift
humankind into the cosmos.

If America is to remain at peace, if we are to live in peace, we must be a leading space power. When we meet the challenges of terrorism or the challenges of gangsters throughout the world, gangster regimes that would kill our people, that would harm us, that would threaten the stability and peace of the world, it is our technological edge that gives us the ability to thwart these threats. If we were not the number one power in space and instead that mantle would shift over to some despot or
gangster regime or antidemocratic regime, for example, on the mainland of China where they still have the world’s worst human rights abusers who are now making investments in space technology, we would not be safe and secure on this planet. The free people on this planet and the American people could not live in peace and security if despots held the high ground, which is space and space technology.

And, finally, if we are to remain a free people, if the United States and America is to remain free, which is our number one value, after all, that unites all Americans, we Americans of every race and every religion and every ethnic background are united by a concept of liberty and justice for all which we pledge to our Flag, but if we are to remain free and have liberty and justice for all, we must be the technological leaders in space because we must remain the society that leads humankind
to conquer new frontiers. If we lose that part of the American character that pushes back the frontier and that chooses to lead mankind into places where it has not gone before and to explore that which has not been explored, if we lose that aspect of our character, we will not remain a free people for long.

So what we are doing when it comes to these great achievements like we are applauding today, we are fulfilling our mission that was set out over 200 years ago by our Founding Fathers to lead humankind into a better world and perhaps into the cosmos.

I thank my colleagues for the support they are giving to America’s space program. I thank the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Gordon) and my friends on the other side of the aisle for being bipartisan and cooperative and all of us for being the type of Americans necessary to maintain that struggle that started with our Founding Fathers over 200 years ago. God bless them.

SpaceRef staff editor.