NOTE TO EDITORS: News media representatives are invited to attend a special session about human space exploration next Monday, Feb. 19, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting. The meeting is being held at the San Francisco Hilton. Media also are invited to view the Ames Research Center exhibits at the AAAS meeting between Feb.16 and Feb. 19.

Academy Award-winning director James Cameron will lead a panel discussion about the scientific motivation for exploring space and the challenges, both physiological and technological, to expanding our presence in the solar system.

The session will be held Monday, Feb.19, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in San Francisco. John B. Charles of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, will provide an overview of human missions beyond Earth orbit, with emphasis on a mission to Mars. Then, Laurence Young, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will examine the biological challenges of long-duration space flight, including the biomedical knowledge, countermeasures and strategies needed for humans to thrive physically and psychologically while exploring the space frontier.

Next, Christopher P. McKay, planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, will summarize the role of recent robotic missions to Mars. He will focus on the role of such missions in developing the fundamental environmental data required to design life-sustaining technologies. He also will discuss their role in the search for answers to the ultimate questions: “How did life begin on Earth?” and “Does life exist elsewhere than on our planet?”

Finally, Ames’ John W. Hines will explore some of the revolutionary advanced technologies required to support future human missions beyond Earth orbit.

Further information about the AAAS meeting is at: