Sandia National Labs

Media Advisory

Media Relations Department

CONTACT: Chris Miller, 505-844-5550

Scientists, Engineers, Policymakers Gather For Space/Robotics Conference

May 28, 1996

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The danger of near-Earth objects, spaceports, the commercialization and colonization of space and the latest in robotics technologies will be among the dozens of featured topics at the combined Space ‘96, Robotics for Challenging Environments, and Comet Day II conferences June 1-6 in Albuquerque.

The presentations and technical programs will consist of the most recent advances, research, and applications in the many areas of science and technology associated with space and robotics. The conferences will bring together scientists, engineers and researchers from many disciplines, and managers, entrepreneurs and government officials from throughout the world.

Among the presenters for Comet Day II on Sunday evening will be Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, speaking about their discovery of Comet Hale-Bopp, which will pass closest to Earth in April 1997; David Levy, co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which broke apart and collided with Jupiter in July 1994; Tom Gehrels of the University of Arizona, who will talk about Spacewatch, a project to discover and catalog large Earth-crossing asteroids; and Wolfgang Elston, who will address the possibility that the Bushveld Complex in South Africa is a mega-impact structure.

Comet Day II activities were organized by Sandia National Laboratories scientist Mark Boslough, who along with Sandian David Crawford used supercomputing to predict results of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy impact on Jupiter.

Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker, co-discoverers of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, are the scheduled lunchtime speakers on Monday.

A special international session will be held Thursday morning, chaired by Wendell Mendell of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

The conference is sponsored by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Sandia National Laboratories, a multiprogram Department of Energy laboratory operated by a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., will have many presentations in the Space ‘96, Comet Day II, and robotics conferences.

The focus of Space ‘96 will be on developing space resources, and applying construction industry and related technologies to lunar and planetary surface activities and basing initiatives. It also will highlight the use of space technology and terrestrial civil engineering and related technologies to enhance the terrestrial environment and foster a sustainable future on Earth.

The premise of Space ‘96, also known as the Fifth International Conference and Exposition on Engineering, Construction and Operations in Space, is that humankind will explore the solar system and eventually develop permanent settlements in space. Conference organizers believe that in the not-too-distant future there will be an Earth-orbiting space station, a return to the Moon, and a journey to Mars. Robots will be used in some of the space flights.

Robotics for Challenging Environments will concentrate on enhancing robotics developments and technologies for operating in difficult and hazardous environments. The conference will cover not only space applications, but applications in terrestrial inspection and maintenance, construction, underwater operations, the nuclear industry, and environmental remediation. This will be the Second Conference and Exposition/Demonstration on Robotics for Challenging Environments.

The conference will feature a robotics competition between several universities. The objective of the contest is to telerobotically construct a model lunar base. Specific tasks will include unloading, transporting, positioning, and covering a small habitat model.

Comet Day II will feature activities relating to comets, asteroids, space debris and meteoroids, and how possible threats to Earth can be detected and mitigated. The event will feature a multimedia presentation by David Levy relating to the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into the atmosphere of Jupiter. Presentations also will focus on the development of possible mineral resources that asteroids can provide.

The conferences will be held at the Albuquerque Hilton Hotel in Albuquerque.


General conference information: Stewart Johnson, (505) 298-2124,
Staci Dow, (505) 272-7308,

Sandia National Laboratories: (Media) Chris Miller, (505) 844-5550,
(Comet Day II) Mark Boslough, 845-8851,
(Robotics) Paul Klarer, 844-2900,

Chris Miller,

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Last modified: June 12, 2001

Sandia National Laboratories is operated by Lockheed Martin Corp. for the U.S. Department of Energy.