WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives today approved a resolution, sponsored by Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) and several members of the House Science Committee, recognizing and commending the achievements of NASA, the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), and Cornell University in conducting the successful Mars Exploration Rover mission.  The rover Spirit landed on Mars on January 3, 2004 and has dazzled the world with the images it is sending back to Earth.  NASA will attempt to land another rover, Opportunity, on January 24 on the opposite side of the red planet.

The resolution (H. Res. 490) specifically praised the role JPL has played in the history of NASA and the space program in general.  The House also honored Cornell University for its leadership and contribution to the scientific missions of the rover programs.  Dr. Stephen Squyers of Cornell led the development of scientific instruments on the rovers and will play the leading role in analysis of scientific experiments conducted by the rovers.

“The details of the Mars mission are at once mundane and otherworldly; simple to recite, yet mind boggling to contemplate,” said House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). “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…Even though the work on Martian surface has just begun, the team at JPL and Cornell has 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.”

“The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has provided NASA with some of its proudest moments, and today we salute its latest accomplishment.  I want to congratulate the entire Mars Exploration Rover team on the successful landing of the Spirit rover earlier this month–we look forward to an exciting mission of exploration,” stated Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN).

“On January 3, we all witnessed a new chapter in America’s continuing space experience with the successful landing of Spirit on the Martian surface.  The good people at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York have once again hit the bulls eye after a 300 million mile trip,” said Subcommittee Chairman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). “The collaboration between JPL and Cornell University in enabling Spirit to deliver spectacular images of the Martian landscape is exemplary of teamwork among public and private sectors and academia.  I consider the engineers, technicians, and scientists at JPL and Cornell to be early space pioneers in the finest tradition.”

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) stated, “In the wake of the difficulties and criticisms NASA has faced, I applaud the success of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Rover Mission.  Our space program has been an integral part of technological progress over the past forty years and will continue to inspire future generations to pursue the unknown.  I commend Administrator O’Keefe and all those involved at NASA and JPL for their commitment to this mission and to the United States space program.  I look forward to the discoveries of the Rover and future successes in space.”

“The ongoing successful exploration of Mars by the Spirit Rover is allowing thousands of school children each day to log on to the Internet and follow its progress and be inspired by America’s space program,” said Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) a former Director of the Space Life Sciences Division at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab who worked on the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo missions.   “Great achievements, such as the Spirit Rover mission, are made because of the teamwork of thousands of dedicated scientists, engineers and mathematicians.  I hope their efforts capture the imagination of the American people and inspire more of our best and brightest young people to become the next generations of scientists, engineers and mathematicians that will lead man’s exploration and expand our knowledge of the universe.”

Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) added, “The tremendous accomplishment and sheer joy exhibited by the Mars Rover Team remind us of what can be and why so many are called to explore space.”

“Many of the technological advancements we enjoy today are a direct result of the discoveries made through our space program.  The Mars Exploration Rover Spirit program is another great success for NASA and space exploration,” said Congressman Randy Neugebauer (R-TX).  “I commend those whose hard work and dedication led to the historical landing of the Mars Rover.”