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Robert Zubrin, author of "The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must," will deliver a President's Lecture Series address based on his book at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in the Mills Godwin Jr. Life Sciences Building Auditorium at Old Dominion University.

In his book, Zubrin explains step-by-step how we can use present-day technology to send humans to Mars within 10 years; produce fuel and oxygen on the planet's surface with Martian natural resources; build bases and settlements on the planet; and alter the planet's atmosphere to pave the way for sustainable life.

One of the world's foremost proponents of the colonization of Mars, Zubrin is a member of NASA's Mars Exploration Long Term Strategy Working Group. "Mars has what it takes" to support colonization, he said in a recent article on the NASA Web site.

The planet may appear to be an uninhabitable desert, but beneath its sands are oceans of water in the form of permafrost, Zubrin said. Enough so that if it was melted and Mars' terrain was smoothed out, it would cover the entire planet with an ocean several hundred meters deep, he claims.

Mars' atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, which provides enormous supplies of the two most important biological elements - carbon and oxygen -- which can be directly taken up and incorporated into plant life.

Zubrin is a former senior engineer with Lockheed Martin and the founder of Pioneer Astronautics, a space exploration and development firm. He also chaired the first international conference of The Mars Society, an organization dedicated to the concept of manned missions and settlement of Mars, in August 1998.

This article was posted on: January 18, 2000

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