Through the Pasadena-based Planetary Society, [Tom Heinsheimer] has served as an adviser to both French and Soviet scientists working on the Martian balloon program. The Lithuanian balloon flights have served as a way of bridging the gap between Soviet space scientists skeptical about balloon flight on Mars and others, such as Heinsheimer, who believe that the effort is do-able but difficult.
Heinsheimer played a key role in introducing Soviet scientists to manned ballooning about 1 1/2 years ago. In the spring of 1988, a Soviet scientific team visited Palm Springs for the Gordon Bennett Balloon Race-a competition Heinsheimer was instrumental in renewing in 1979 after a 41-year interruption.
[Victor Kerzhanovitch], in Pasadena recently for meetings on the Mars project and to observe Voyager's rendezvous with Neptune, said the Earth ballooning project had been beneficial for his understanding of what will happen during the balloon flights on Mars. Particularly useful was the first series of balloon flights in Lithuania in July, 1988, also sponsored by the Planetary Society.