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Cornell Experts Continue on Standby as Mars Launch is Put on Hold
Cornell Experts Continue on Standby as Mars Launch is Put on Hold
9 Jun 2003
(Source: Cornell University)


Contact: David Brand
Office: 607-255-3651

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Cornell University astronomers Robert J. Sullivan Jr. and Zoe Learner are available for background interviews as the first of two scheduled Mars launches continues to be delayed due to bad weather.

The launch of the Delta II rocket carrying the first of two Mars rover vehicles, now bearing the name Spirit, was delayed Sunday until today, when it was scrubbed again. Officials at Cape Canaveral, Fla., said the launch is now scheduled for tomorrow, June 10, at 1:58:47 or 2:36:49 p.m. Eastern time.

On-air or on-camera interviews can be arranged in advance by calling David Brand at the Cornell News Service at (607) 255-3651 or Pamela Smith at the Cornell Department of Astronomy at (607) 255-2692.

The two launches -- the second is scheduled for June 25 -- are part of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission, sending two roving vehicles to the planet's surface. The rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, which are due to bounce down next January, will be carrying scientific packages, called Athena, developed by a Cornell-led team. Steven Squyres, Cornell professor of astronomy, who is leading the Athena team for NASA, is in Florida for the launch and is not available for interviews.

Sullivan is a senior research associate at Cornell and an Athena science team member whose job will be to examine the physical properties of soils and the distribution of different soil units around the Mars landing sites, as well as other aspects of surface geology. He also will work with data from the Athena panoramic cameras and microscopic imagers.

Learner is a graduate student and an Athena science team collaborator whose job will be to record initial findings from the Martian surface and rover activity requests during Athena science team meetings.

NASA's press packet for the mission is available online at

EDITORS: You are welcome to call Sullivan or Learner at (607) 255-9888 and Learner at (607) 255-6307. If the launch proceeds as planned, the two experts will be available at (607) 255-5308 and Learner at (607) 255-2692.

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Last Updated: 9 Jun 2003