The Mars Institute: A New Resource for a New Century of Mars Exploration

Press Release From: Mars Institute
Posted: Tuesday, October 15, 2002

October 15, 2002 - Houston, Texas - Members of the founding Board of Directors of the Mars Institute formally unveiled the new organization today at the World Space Congress.

The Mars Institute is a California-based nonprofit corporation whose stated purpose is to further the scientific study, exploration, and public understanding of Mars. The Institute intends to:

  • develop, implement and support high quality peer-reviewed scientific research about the planet Mars, its present nature, and its climatic, geologic and possibly biologic evolution, including through investigations of similarities and differences between the Earth, Mars and other planets;
  • analyze, develop and implement concepts, technologies and strategies for the exploration of Mars, by robotic systems and humans;
  • inform the public on the results, progress, and benefits to humankind of Mars exploration through the development and implementation of educational and public outreach activities.

A new century of scientific knowledge and exploration of Mars has begun, with the current planning and prospect of many new missions to be launched to the Red Planet. The Mars Institute was created to respond to this opportunity and, out of a need strongly felt by its initiators, to establish an independent nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to focus on advancing the scientific study and exploration of Mars, with a central commitment to conducting high quality peer-reviewed research, and on sharing knowledge and experiences of Mars exploration with students and the general public worldwide. The Mars Institute will strive to provide leadership as the premier international non-governmental organization for the peaceful advancement of these goals.

The Mars Institute's founding Board of Directors includes Dr. Pascal Lee of the SETI Institute, Dr. Charles Cockell of the British Antarctic Survey, and Mr. Marc Boucher of SpaceRef Interactive, Inc.

"The exploration of Mars is the one of the most exciting combined scientific, technical, and public-inspiring challenges of our time. It is fitting that an international organization be dedicated to advancing Mars research and the peaceful exploration of our planetary neighbor", said Lee. The Mars Institute will build in particular on Lee's research experience as Principal Investigator of the NASA Haughton-Mars Project.

"Every time humanity has embarked on a new path of scientific research and exploration, the need for an organization to focus on meeting the new scientific and technical challenges that appear, and on communicating the results of these efforts, has arisen. Such was the case for the exploration of Earth's oceans, its moon, and other frontiers. Now, with the founding of the Mars Institute, the same can be said for the exploration of Mars", said Boucher.

Today, the Mars Institute also unveiled its inaugural Board of Advisors. Mars Institute Advisors provide independent advice to the Board of Directors on a wide variety of matters concerning the development and implementation of Mars science, exploration, and education and public outreach.

Emeritus Advisors

  • Audouin Dollfus, Ph.D., Observatoire de Paris-Meudon
  • Frank Drake, Ph.D., Chairman, SETI Institute

Science and Exploration Advisors

  • Stephen Braham, Ph.D., Simon Fraser University
  • David Crown, Ph.D., Planetary Science Institute
  • Stephen J. Hoffman, Ph.D., Science Applications International Corporation
  • Jeffrey E. Moersch, Ph.D., University of Tennessee
  • Michael Sims, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center
  • Peter Smith, University of Arizona
  • Steven W. Squyres, Ph.D., Cornell University
  • Carol Stoker, Ph.D., NASA Ames Research Center
  • Peter C. Thomas, Ph.D., Cornell University

Outreach Advisors

  • Kim Stanley Robinson, M.A., Author

Student Advisors

  • Darlene Lim, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Toronto
  • Paul Wooster, Undergraduate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Mars Institute will be managed on a day to day basis by Mr. Marc Boucher, the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Dr. Pascal Lee serves as Chairman of the Board, and Dr. Charles Cockell is the Institute's Vice-President. The Mars Institute is currently pursuing a 5 Year Development Plan (2003-2007) which will guide the Institute's initial development and create a solid basis for its future growth. The Mars Institute will be funded through both public and private sources.

For more information, visit:


Marc Boucher, CEO
1+ (250) 213-7832

Pascal Lee, Chairman
1+ (408) 666-2001

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