Margarita Marinova (617.225.8358,,
Paul Wooster (617.497.6802,,
Justin Talbot-Stern (

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.– Scientists, engineers, and others interested in the human exploration of Mars will convene October 20-22 at MIT for “Mars Week”, a student-run conference.

The conference, designed as an inspirational event that will educate and excite individuals about Mars exploration, will feature speakers representing a wide array of interests in Mars and space science.

Among those scheduled to speak are David McKay, principal investigator in the search for life in the martian meteorite ALH84001; Michael Carroll, renowned space artist; Robert Zubrin, Mars Society president and author of The Case for Mars; Donna Shirley, past manager of the Mars Exploration Program and project manager for the Mars Sojourner; and Chris McKay, world renowned astrobiologist.

The three-day event is planned by members of the “Think Mars” initiative and the International Mars Society, with the support of MIT’s Large Event Funding committee, the Boulder Center for Science and Policy, and MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Think Mars was created in 1998 to participate in NASA’s “NASA Means Business” competition, and the student group was subsequently selected by the judges to develop a comprehensive business plan for a mission to Mars. The team is using NASA’s technical mission plan (the NASA Design Reference Mission) as the basis for a business plan that focuses on the financial, political, and logistical aspects of human exploration of Mars. Team members hope to launch the company that organizes the first mission.

The International Mars Society was founded in 1998 to further the goal of humans to Mars. Its membership currently numbers about 3000. The goal of the Mars Society is to both educate the public about Mars and Mars Exploration, as well as conduct research and activities relating to Mars exploration. The Society’s activities so far have included the construction of the Mars Arctic Research Station in the Canadian High Arctic, Operation President – an extensive political outreach program, and the Mars Pressurized Rover Design Competition.

“We weren’t around for the first Moon walk, so this is our way of contributing to space exploration,” said Think Mars founder Justin Talbot-Stern, a graduate student at MIT. “To us, it’s not just a competition anymore, it’s real life.”

For more information about Mars Week and Think Mars, see