NASA will Webcast Mars talk

National Aeronautic and Space Administration

NASA will team with foreign scientists to conduct live Webcasts during a mission to develop methods for underground drilling on Mars.

Scientists from NASA, U.S. universities and the Spanish Centro De Astrobiologia (Center of Astrobiology) are taking part in the Mars Analog Research and Technology Experiment.

Known as MARTE, the project is developing robot systems that will drill into the subsurface of Mars in search of underground life. Scientists believe liquid water may exist deep underground there, according to NASA.

From Sept. 29 through Oct. 15, eight educational Webcasts will be broadcast from the project site near Spain's Rio Tinto River. Carol Stoker, a scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in California, will conduct the first Webcast at 10 a.m. Sept. 29.

"Searching for subsurface life in the Rio Tinto system can be viewed as a learning experience to teach scientists and technologists how to search for life in the subsurface of Mars," said Stoker, the lead investigator for the three-year experiment.

The lecture series will feature subtitles in English and Spanish, and has been structured as a three-week interactive course called the NASA Robotics for Research and Exploration. One participating university is California's San Jose State University. Students there will receive one unit of college credit for the course, and will be able to ask the scientists questions using Internet chat technologies.

"What's different about this course is that it offers real-time transcription in both Spanish and English," said Mark Leon, deputy chief of the Ames Research Center education office. "So far, this has only been done before with the French in 1998."

The lectures are available to a worldwide listening audience over the Internet, through the program's live Web site.

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