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The University of Texas at Dallas, P.O. Box 830688, Richardson, Texas 75083-0688

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News contact:  Steve McGregor, UTD, (972) 883-2293, smcgreg@utdallas.edu

UTD Geoscientist Appointed to Steering Group
To Develop Science Plan for 2013 Mars Mission

Photo - Associate Professor Dr. Janok P. BhattacharyaRICHARDSON, Texas (Dec. 1, 2003) — A member of the Geosciences Department faculty at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to help develop a science plan for a mission in 2013 to search for life on Mars.

Associate Professor Dr. Janok P. Bhattacharya was appointed a member of the Mars Astrobiology Field Lab Mission Definition Science Steering Group.   The panel is co-chaired by Dave Beaty of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Dr. Andrew Steele of the Carnegie Institution.  

The steering group is composed of 21 engineers, astrobiologists and geologists whose mandate is to define key scientific objectives, methods and logistics for the mission, which will investigate evidence of present or past life on Mars.   The group will conduct regularly scheduled meetings or teleconferences, the first of which took place last week.

"Evidence for life is thought to occur either around active or ancient hydrothermal vents or in standing bodies of water," said Bhattacharya.   "Recent images from Mars prove that standing bodies of water – lakes or seas – existed in the distant past and these may represent areas for discovery of fossilized aquatic life."

Bhattacharya is an expert in the study of terrestrial sediments associated with lakes and seas that may contain a record of life — features that might be analogous to recent Martian discoveries.

About UTD
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls about 13,700 students. The school's freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university's web site at www.utdallas.edu.


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August 03, 2013