"Mars Week 2001", a three-day conference about the exploration of Mars, will be held at the MIT campus in Cambridge on October 26-28. Mars Week is an annual conference discussing the engineering, scientific, political and social aspects of Mars exploration. Topics will include present and future missions, including the prospects for the human exploration and settlement of the Red Planet.
The event will kick off with the arrival of NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft at Mars on Tuesday, October 23. The MIT chapter of the Mars Society will monitor the spacecraft's entry into Mars orbit from the MIT campus. This will provide an informal start to the Mars Week 2001 program.
The main program begins on Friday, October 26 with an evening reception and introductory speakers. Saturday, October 27, will be a full day of Mars-related activity. Sunday, October 28, will include several activities for children, and continue the program of speakers and technical conferences.
Mars Week attracts scientists, engineers, astronauts, students, political activists and business leaders from throughout the United States. Technical events will include discussion of two possible spacecraft with MIT participation. The "Translife" mission recently announced by the Mars Society will fly mice, and possibly other animals, in space for two months under conditions that simulate Martian gravity. A second possible spacecraft mission would return a small quantity of rock and soil from the surface of Mars for laboratory study.
This year's sponsors include the Mars Society, MIT's Undergraduate Association, MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The student-run conference is organized by the MIT Mars Society, a chapter of the Mars Society, an international organization founded in 1998 to further the goal of human spaceflight to Mars through public outreach and technical research. One example of the Mars Society's research program is the new Translife space mission. Another example is the Mars Arctic Research Station in the Canadian Arctic, a simulation of a manned Mars base under conditions as closely resembling Mars as is possible on our planet.