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Cornell Astronomy Professor to Lecture at Penn State

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Steven Squyres, professor of astronomy at Cornell University, will unveil some of the mysteries of Mars in a free public lecture titled "Exploration of Mars" at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 27, in 101 Thomas Building on Penn State's University Park campus.

For the past two decades, Squyres's research has involved the geophysics and geochemistry of Mars and the light-reflecting properties of other planets, as well. He has served on scientific teams responsible for major missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and Mars. Squyres is currently a member of the imaging team for the Cassini mission to Saturn and the s-ray/gamma-ray spectrometer team for the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission. He is a coinvestigator on the 1998 Mars Surveyor mission to the south pole of Mars and on the NASA Discovery CONTOUR mission, set for launch in 2002 to take close-proximity photos of comet nuclei. Last year he was chosen as the principal investigator for the Mars Surveyor Project 2003 mission. As principal investigator, Squyres will lead an international team of scientists in the development and operation of the Athena Rover vehicle designed to explore and analyze part of the Martian surface. Rock samples collected by the Athena Rover will be returned to Earth in 2005.

Squyres received his doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1981 and then spent five years as a postdoctoral associate and research scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center before returning to Cornell as a faculty member. Squyres has served on numerous NASA advisory committees and currently is chair of NASA's Solar System Exploration Subcommittee. He has been honored with two NASA Group Achievement Awards and the Harold Urey Prize from the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences for outstanding achievement by a young scientist.

Squyres's lecture is one of a five-lecture series hosted by Penn State's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and largely funded by the Ronald M. and Susan J. Friedman Outreach Fund in Astronomy. Mr. Friedman is a member of the department's Board of Visitors. Attendees will be able to meet Squyres and faculty members from Penn State's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics following the lecture.

-cs/amm-

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