65 N. Catalina Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91106-2301
(626) 793-5100 Fax (626)
E-mail: tps@planetary.org Web: http://planetary.org

For Immediate Release: February 8, 2000

Contact: Susan Lendroth

In three months, three US Mars missions were lost: the Mars Climate
Orbiter, the Mars Polar Lander and Deep Space 2. What do we do now?

The Planetary Society invites the public to discuss that very question at
an Open Forum on the US Mars program on Friday, February 18 at 6:30 PM EST.
They can attend the Forum in person in Washington, DC at the Radisson
Barcelo Hotel or via the Internet at a live webcast hosted at planetary.org
and space.com.

The Open Forum is designed to give the public the opportunity to voice
their views about how and why the U.S. should explore Mars in the future.
Dr. Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society, will
moderate the forum, and representatives from NASA and JPL will be on hand
to listen to these issues.

The U.S. National Space Policy of the Clinton Administration calls for a
“sustained robotic presence on the surface of Mars.” The current plan for
implementing this policy is to launch missions to Mars every two years,
with an international sample return mission conducted over the 2003 and
2005 launch opportunities. An Independent Assessment Team is currently
reviewing the failed missions as well as the plans for future Mars
missions, and will make recommendations to NASA and the U.S. Congress in

“Is our reach exceeding our grasp,” asks Friedman, “or should the country
put more resources into Mars exploration?”

The Planetary Society’s Open Forum will be conducted in a town meeting
format, with the moderator recognizing people for comments of up to five
minutes, allowing discussion as time permits. In addition to comments from
the attendees, comments from the internet will be possible through the
webcast. No meeting consensus or group recommendation will be solicited,
but the minutes of the meeting will be recorded and sent to NASA.

Admission to the Open Forum is free. It will be held Friday, February 18,
2000 at 6:30 PM EST in the Phillips Ballroom of the Radisson Barcelo Hotel,
2121 P Street NW, Washington, DC.

The Internet Forum can be accessed at http://space.com and at
http://planetary.org. Check the websites for more details!


Contact Susan Lendroth at (626)793-5100 ext. 214 or by e-mail at
tps.sl@planetary.org for more information.

Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society
in 1980 to advance the exploration of the solar system and to continue the
search for extraterrestrial life. Its 100,000 members make it the largest
space interest group in the world.

Linda Wong

The Planetary Society

65 N. Catalina Ave.

Pasadena, CA 91106-2301

Tel: (626) 793-5100 ext. 236

Fax: (626) 793-5528

E-Mail: tps@planetary.org