Top Mars Scientists to Engage the Bellingham Community About the Future of Mars Exploration June 27 at the Mount Baker Theatre

Some of the world’s top Mars scientists will gather in Bellingham to share the latest scientific results from the Red Planet and preview NASA’s next generation Mars rover mission at an all-ages community event at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, June 27 at the Mount Baker Theatre.

The event, “Mars Invasion! The past, present, and future of NASA's exploration at the Red Planet” features Jim Bell, the lead scientist on the next-generation camera system that will fly on NASA’s next Mars rover which is scheduled to launch in 2020.

Western Washington University’s Melissa Rice, assistant professor of Geology and member of three NASA Mars rover missions, will engage a dynamic panel on the future of human and robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The panel will include Bell, engineer Justin Maki of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, planetary evangelist and educator Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society, and former NASA Shuttle astronaut Wendy Lawrence. The audience will have ability to interact with the experts to ask questions about Mars and space exploration during a live Q&A.

The event will occur during a separate meeting of the instrument team for the science cameras ­– known as Mastcam-Z – hosted by Western Washington University.

“I am excited to welcome my Mars colleagues to Bellingham,” said Rice, “And I’m even more excited to share the exploration of Mars with our local community at this event. There has been a revolution in our understanding of Mars as a potentially habitable world over the past two decades, and this next mission is our most ambitious yet.”

Tickets for the event are $5 per person and are available at the Mount Baker Theatre box office and online at The event is made possible by Western's College of Science and Engineering, with additional support by The Planetary Society, the world’s leading nonprofit space organization and the official outreach partner of the Mastcam-Z instrument.

Bell is the author of multiple books, including “Postcards from Mars,” “The Interstellar Age,” “Mars 3D,” and “Moon 3D.” He has participated in numerous NASA missions, including the Pathfinder mission to Mars and the Mars rovers Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity. He also serves as the president of The Planetary Society and is a professor of Earth and Space Science at Arizona State University. In 2011 he received the Carl Sagan Medal for Excellence in Public Communication from the American Astronomical Society.

For more information on the “Mars Invasion” event, contact Casey Dreier of The Planetary Society at; for more on Rice’s work with the Mars rover teams, go to

Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 11:00am