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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

My 50 Years Exploring Mars: From the Viking Landers to the Perseverance Rover

Wednesday, September 7, 2022 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Danforth Campus

During the summer of 1969, the Mariner 6 and 7 spacecraft flew past Mars while imaging the atmosphere and surface. This was the beginning of unveiling the red planet’s fascinating history of changing from an early warm, wet climate to today’s cold, dry, forbidding environment.

During his 50 year career, Arvidson has been fortunate to witness and participate in many of the exciting discoveries about the red planet derived from both orbiting and landed robotic missions. The evidence overwhelmingly points to an ancient Mars replete standing bodies of water as lakes and seas fed by river systems. Volcanoes populated the landscape, with magma interacting with ground water to produce massive steam-powered explosions.

During this presentation, Arvidson will lead the audience through the process of planning and implementing robotic missions to Mars, highlighted by a number of “behind the scenes” personal narratives. He will also give a crash course on driving “Cars on Mars” (i.e., the rovers) – but will keep the keys safely locked in his office. Finally, Arvidson will cover how researchers think Mars went from a warm, wet environment to today’s dry, cold, inhospitable climate, together with implications for Martian life, and how studying Mars helps us better understand how to be better stewards of our own planet.

A public reception will precede the lecture, inside of Knight Hall from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Millbrook Garage is directly across from Knight Hall and parking is free in visitor or yellow spaces for all entries after 5:00 p.m. RSVP at link below to receive additional details.

This event will also be livestreamed.

The public talk will be followed by an Earth and Planetary Sciences open house and research colloquium on Thursday, September 8. Please visit the event page for further details.

RSVP to attend.

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Arts & Sciences


Science & Technology



Event Contact


Speaker Information

In this public lecture, Raymond E. Arvidson, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, will share highlights and reflections – and driving lessons – gleaned from a half century of investigating the red planet. This is the inaugural event in the EPS Distinguished Lecture Series.

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