the 2013 Flagstaff Festival of Science will explore Life in the Extreme, Sept. 20 – 29, 2013. Leading the free
10-day adventure is planetary explorer and Mars rover boss Professor Steve Squyres.
With the most up-to-the-minute images and information from the nail-biting Mars rover missions and their
extraordinary findings, this planetary geologist will set the pace as the Festival’s Shoemaker Keynote
Presenter at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 20 in Northern Arizona University’s Ardrey Auditorium.
Like a New York City taxi driver, Steve Squyres’ and his team have maneuvered Spirit and Opportunity rovers
through treacherous conditions. From millions of miles away and for thousands of sols (Martian days),
scientists and engineers have helped the Mars Exploration Rovers dodge paralyzing sand traps, weather
unearthly cold and persevere through fierce red planet dust storms in search of ancient environments that
may have harbored Life in the Extreme. Spirit and Opportunity led the way for their much larger and far more
capable cousin, Curiosity, that landed and began exploring Mars last summer.
Ironically, curiosity is the reason Squyres became a planetary scientist and the latest rover, Curiosity, brings
him to the forefront of space exploration today. “I’ve always wondered about how things work. That’s really
what science is all about. Mars rovers are helping us learn more about the origins of life!”
The Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, Squyres first realized his career was written
in the stars when he was an undergraduate student there. “I went into the place where they kept the pictures
that the Viking orbiter was sending back from Mars at that time, and I started flipping through those pictures.
I came out of that room four hours later knowing exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of time.”
Besides the robotic exploration of planetary surfaces, Squyres’ research includes the history of water on
Mars; the possible existence and habitability of an ocean on one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa; the composition
of icy satellites; and the tectonics of Venus.
Meantime, as Mars rovers continue to scoop up, sift and analyze Martian soil, the Festival is planning field field trips, star parties, interactive exhibits, Science in the Park, science magic shows and presentations. The U.S. Geological Survey will be inviting festival participants to travel along its 50-year journey of astrogeology!
“Flagstaff has long held a critical role in our country’s successful space exploration program,” said USGS
planetary geologist Dr. Kenneth Herkenhoff. “Our scientists map the moon, Mars and other objects in our
solar system and helped the Apollo astronauts train for their historic missions on the kind of volcanic terrain
they could expect on their moon walks,” said USGS emeritus scientist Dr. Larry Soderblom.
Support from businesses, organizations and individuals makes the award-winning Flagstaff Festival of
Science possible as the nation’s longest running science festival. Supernova Friends include the City of
Flagstaff BBB tax revenues, Flagstaff Cultural Partners, Northern Arizona University, Blue Cross Blue Shield of
Arizona, the Flagstaff Community Foundation, W. L. Gore & Associates, Science Foundation Arizona and the