Calling all future astronauts, scientists and armchair space travelers: The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will present “Mars Day!,” its annual tribute to the “Red Planet” Friday, July 26, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Organized by the museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, the event enables visitors to interact with its team of staff scientists and experts from the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History and NASA.
“Mars Day!” displays and activities include opportunities for visitors to:
- See a meteorite that came from Mars, explained by scientists from the National Museum of Natural History
- Learn about the history of water on Mars with planetary scientist Yo Matsubara
- Discover how to see beneath the surface of Mars with scientist Bruce Campbell
- Hear about geologic features that are common to both Earth and Mars and find out what can be learned from them with geologist Bob Craddock
- Find out how Antarctica can be a laboratory for studying Mars with scientists Maria Banks and Michelle Selvans
- Learn about NASA’s missions of exploration with the agency’s Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division, and Mike Meyer, lead scientist of the Mars Exploration Program
- Discover amazingly detailed views of Mars from the HiRISE high-resolution imager on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter with scientist Patrick Russell
- Explore radar mapping of Mars on the European Mars Express mission with scientist Tom Watters
- Learn about Curiosity, the newest rover on the “Red Planet” with Mars Science Laboratory Science Team member John Grant
- Tour Curiosity’s landing site and learn about the rocks and minerals there with scientists Steve Scheidt and Molly Johnson
- Test their skills maneuvering a robotic rover or collect samples with a robotic arm in a hands-on activity featuring small robots
- Participate in an out-of-this-world game with a prize, hosted by Martian of Ceremonies Kelsey Wood
- Tour the terrain of Mars using an immersive Google Mars display and view the surface of Mars in 3-D with red/blue glasses
- Participate in children’s art activities and story time for youngsters
- See a full-scale model of the rover Opportunity and learn about the ongoing mission with scientist Ross Irwin
- Learn about the National Air and Space Museum’s Regional Planetary Image Facility, a NASA-funded archive of imagery
- See Mars from Earth and from orbit in an informative planetarium presentation with scientist Michelle Selvans
- Learn how spacecraft find their way, with geographer Andrew Johnston
- Learn how rovers drive on Mars, with scientist Ross Irwin
For more information and a detailed schedule of activities visit: http://airandspace.si.edu/marsday.
“Mars Day!” is held annually at the museum’s building in Washington 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. This year’s program is made possible by the support of BAE Systems.
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.
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