September 9, 2008

NASA Planetary Scientist to Unveil Polar Region of Mars at SSU Lecture

NASA planetary scientist Carol Stoker will present the first results from the Phoenix Lander Mission at 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 15 in Darwin 103 at Sonoma State University. The event is part of the" What Physicists Do" series.

The Phoenix has been digging into the icy polar region of Mars since May, establishing the presence of ice and looking for conditions that might have harbored life at some time in the past or present. Stoker, who earned her Ph.D. in astrogeophysics, has performed field studies to analyze Mars-like environments in the Arctic, Antarctic, and other remote regions on Earth, using robots that were precursors to the robotic instruments sent to the frigid planet fifty million miles farther from the Sun.

She was a participating scientist on the Mars Pathfinder mission where she provided a three-dimensional interactive virtual reality model of the Pathfinder landing site as a tool for operating the rover mission.

She played a similar role in the Mars Polar lander mission, the scientific progenitor of Phoenix. She currently leads the MARTE project to develop a robotic system for drilling the subsurface of Mars to search for living organisms. MARTE is searching for subsurface life in Rio Tinto, Spain, an analog to the Sinus Merdiani site explored by the MER rover.

For a free poster describing all thirteen lectures in the series, visit, send e-mail to, or phone (707) 664-2119.

Jean Wasp
Media Relations Coordinator
University Affairs
(707) 664-2057