NASA scientist Steven Squyres to speak on Mars rovers expedition for the Assembly Series

Steven Squyres will present the William C. Ferguson Lecture titled “Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet” at 11 a.m., February 8, in Graham Chapel as part of the Assembly Series.

Steven Squyres

Like his former professor, the late astronomer Carl Sagan, Squyres has a passion for space exploration and he hopes the current Mars mission will rekindle the public’s interest as they share in the exploration of the surface of another world. The two rovers landed on Mars two years ago and are helping astronomers determine whether or not there was life on the planet. The robotic explorers will examine Mars’ rocks and soil for minerals signaling the past presence of water.

Squyres is the scientific principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers Project, which he first conceived in 1987 and which got NASA’s green light a decade later. He oversees the science operations of both rovers and a team of 170 researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has helped design, build and test all the scientific tools on the twin 400-pound solar-powered rovers.

He is the Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University. He earned a Ph.D. from Cornell in 1982. He specializes in planetary sciences and has a particular interest in the tectonics of Venus, the history of water on Mars, and the geophysics of the icy satellites of the outer planets.

St. Louis is honored to have the top two Mars Exploration Rovers’ scientists at the same event. Ray Arvidson, who is the deputy principal scientist of the Athena instruments on the twin rover mission, will introduce Steve Squyres. Arvidson is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at Washington University. He directs the department’s Remote Sensing Laboratory, which is involved in many aspects of NASA’s planetary exploratory programs, including developing science objectives, plans for missions, data analysis and archiving.

The event is free and open to the public. Graham Chapel is located north of Mallinckrodt Center on the Washington University Hilltop campus.

For more information, call (314) 935-4620 or visit the Assembly Series Web page (