New “Mars Experience” at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center  

October 19, 2018
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Mars Experience

Students from the Manassas, Virginia's Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team were the first ones to board the Lockheed Martin "Mars Experience" bus after a morning ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., October, 19, 2018. Photo by Daniel Soñé

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will debut the “Mars Experience” at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Saturday, Oct. 20, during the annual “Air & Scare” event. Using a traditional school bus outfitted with audio and visual technology, the interactive experience will virtually transport visitors to the Red Planet and give them a chance to see what it might be like to be on Mars. The “Mars Experience” was produced and donated to the museum by Lockheed Martin.

“The first person that will go to Mars is likely in middle school right now,” said Peter Jakab, chief curator at the museum. “We hope this experience helps inspire young people to want to reach new worlds.”

The “Mars Experience” was developed for late-elementary and middle school students and will be integrated into a variety of the programs the museum offers around topics such as living and working in space and exploring Mars. The experience will be available to Udvar-Hazy Center visitors on weekends, free of charge. Future plans include educational outreach to local schools. More information about reserving the experience at a school is available at

“The Mars Experience has already reached over 100,000 students, parents and educators around the country,” said Ann Zulkowsky, director of NASA programs at Lockheed Martin. “This donation will ensure it continues to inspire many more young minds.”

Visitors to “Air & Scare,” Oct. 20 will be the first to take part in the “Mars Experience.” “Air & Scare” is designed with the whole family in mind, and from noon to 5:30 p.m. visitors will enjoy safe, indoor trick-or-treating and spooky activities for all ages at this free event. “Air & Scare” is made possible by Mars Wrigley Confectionery US LLC. For more information and a full list of activities, visit

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, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. Regular daily hours for both facilities are from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25).

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