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February 3
The space shuttle Discovery launches with the first female shuttle pilot, Air Force Lt. Col. Eileen Collins.


May 12–13
The Planetary Surface Instrument Workshop is held at the LPI. Convened by Allan Treiman and Charles Meyer, the workshop brings together scientists and instrument design engineers to consider what scientific instruments could do from a landed robotic spacecraft.


June 14–15

The first Workshop on Discovery:  Lessons-Learned is held in Washington, DC. Convened by Mark Saunders of NASA Headquarters, the workshop is designed to review how well the Discovery Program is moving toward its goal of providing low-cost research opportunities to the planetary science community while ensuring continued U.S. leadership in solar system exploration.


July 23
Comet Hale-Bopp is discovered by Thomas Bopp and Alan Hale.


August 14–15
The Workshop on Mars Telescopic Observations is held in Ithaca, New York. Convened by Jim Bell and Jim Moersch, the goal of the workshop is to facilitate discussions among and between amateur and professional observers, fostering collaborations and comparisons within the Mars observing community, and to explore the role of continuing telescopic observations of Mars in the upcoming era of increased spacecraft exploration.


September 24–30
The Mars Pathfinder Landing Site Workshop II: Characteristics of the Ares Vallis Region and Field Trips in the Channeled Scabland, Washington is held in Spokane, Washington. The workshop provides Mars Pathfinder team members with the opportunity to experience field work and overflight observation of the Channeled Scablands area, an analog to the Ares Vallis region on Mars, in preparation for the 1997 landing of the Pathfinder mission.