The first announcement of an upcoming conference is getting a little bit of press and notice in various other blogs. The First International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos, to be held at NASA Ames November 5-8, will focus on the "Science, Robotic Reconnaissance, and Human Exploration of the Two Moons of Mars." Why the heck would you want to send humans to the moons of Mars? One reason is that it's easier to explore the moons of Mars than Mars itself -- you have the big bulk of Mars to help your spacecraft brake into Mars orbit, but then you can settle your explorers down (and blast them off) with relative ease from the much smaller masses of Mars' tiny moons. The moons probably have porous interiors and maybe even ice, making them attractive spots in the more distant future for setting up a space station (porous means you don't have to dig much to get yourself underground and protected from solar radiation).
I thought the conference sounded pretty interesting and pointed it out to Lou and Society Director of Projects Bruce Betts -- only to have Lou point out to me that both he and Bruce are on the conference organizing committee, and that The Planetary Society is one of ten cosponsors. Silly me. In addition to our longer-term interest in the exploration of Phobos and Deimos, we are also supporting the development of the LIFE experiment to be sent on the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission.