Discovering Mars - Past, Present, and Future

Mike Malolepszy
St. Louis Astronomical Society

Our vice-president, K. Michael Malolepszy, will be featured at the September meeting of the Society. The recent close approach of Mars to the Earth has sparked considerable public interest in the Red Planet. At the same time, European and Japanese spacecraft and two NASA roving landers are en route to Mars to extend the vigorous robotic exploration already in progress. Two orbiting NASA spacecraft are now busily mapping the Martian surface at high resolution. Of primary interest is the role of water in shaping Mars through its history and in possibly supporting the development of some form of life, perhaps in ancient times. Mike will discuss how our old ideas about the Martian environment have changed, often dramatically, with major changes to Earth-based instruments and with a series of spacecraft missions. He will present an overview of our present understanding of Mars, and indicate what major mysteries remain to be solved.
Michael Malolepszy is a veteran amateur astronomer and vice president of the Saint Louis Astronomical Society. He was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. He has worked at the Very Large Array national radio astronomy observatory in New Mexico, and has presented astronomy programs at the McDonnell Planetarium, now operated by the St. Louis Science Center, for many years.