Mars has definitely been the planet in the news these past two months, and two events have triggered larger-than-normal reverberations in the Society.
First, on November 22, Gerald Soffen died. He served as project scientist on the epic Viking missions to Mars in the late 1970s, and to those of us who remember back that far, Gerry was someone who commanded both respect and affection. In recent years he had undertaken the possibly even more monumental task of nurturing the future generation of space scientists. Through his work with the NASA Academy, he brought young people into Society projects, most memorably at our Planetfest '97. We will miss him greatly.
Then, on December 4, while we were wrapping up this issue, Mike Malin and Ken Edgett announced their latest news-making discovery -- this time of sedimentary layers on the Martian surface. While we had no time to prepare a major feature, we were able to insert a few images into our Mars Express feature.
As you might remember from last issue, we announced the winners of the Red Rover Goes to Mars Student Scientist Team. Now these nine young people are on their way to work with Mike and Ken to select a landing site for some future Mars mission.
So the symmetry is fixed: one Mars scientist and educator leaves us, and the current generation passes the torch to the next. We at the Society are grateful to have played a role in making that happen.