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Douglas Isbell
Headquarters, Washington, DC                   January 7, 2000
(Phone:  202/358-1547)

Elvia Thompson
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone:  202/358-1696)

RELEASE:  00-6


Sixteen experienced engineers, scientists and executives have been named by NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin to form the Mars Program Independent Assessment Team. The team is holding its initial organizational meeting today at NASA Headquarters.

Chaired by Thomas Young, retired executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Corp., this team has been chartered to review the agency's approach to robotic exploration of Mars in the wake of the recent loss of the Mars Polar Lander mission.

The team's participants are:

The team will evaluate several recent successful and unsuccessful NASA missions to deep space, including Mars Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, Deep Space 1 and Deep Space 2. It will analyze the budgets, content, schedule, management structure and scientific organization of these missions. It will then assess how these roles and responsibilities are related to mission safety, reliability and success.

It will also review proposed revisions to NASA's existing Mars exploration program architecture as options are developed by a group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.

The team will brief the NASA administrator on their findings by mid-March 2000.

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