Explore the “Red Planet” at the National Air and Space Museum’s Mars Day!
Why is Mars red? Does it have water? Is there life on Mars? These questions and many more will be answered at this year’s Mars Day! Friday, July 22, at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. Presented by the museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, the annual event enables visitors to interact with staff scientists and experts from the Museum of Natural History and NASA.
Mars Day! will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and feature more than 15 displays and fun family activities throughout the museum. Visitors will learn about the latest Mars research, current and future missions, and will have the opportunity to see a life-size model NASA’s newest rover, Curiosity. The new rover is scheduled to be launched to Mars in November 2011 equipped with more scientific gear than its famous predecessors, Spirit and Opportunity. Another special attraction will be the museum’s new Google Earth Station, also known as the Liquid Galaxy. Located in the Moving Beyond Earth gallery, the station allows participants to tour Mars and other space destinations through panoramic images on large screens.
Mars Day! activities will include:
- Presentations by scientists participating in past and future Mars missions
- The Red Planet Quiz Show hosted by a Martian of Ceremonies
- Displays of the surface of Mars in 3-D and images straight from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
- Presentations on geologic features common to Earth and Mars and volcanoes on Mars
- Sky-viewing with the telescope in the museum’s Public Observatory (weather permiting)
- A Piece of Mars—an actual Mars meteorite
- Mars Art! and Mars Story Time: special activities for younger kids
- Robot Explorers, a hands-on activity that allows visitors to maneuver small robots
For more information about Mars Day! visit: http://www.nasm.si.edu/marsday/.
The National Air and Space Museum is on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.
Mars Day! is held annually to mark the July 1976 landing of Viking 1, the first spacecraft to operate on Mars. A test version of Viking 1 is displayed in the Milestones of Flight gallery at the museum’s building in Washington.
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