National Air and Space Museum Celebrates “Mars Day!” July 20 

Press Release

Monday, July 9, 2018 - 12:30pm

Media Inquiries

Alison Mitchell, 202-633-2376,
Amy Stamm, 202-633-2392,

Public Inquiries


The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will present “Mars Day!,” its annual tribute to the Red Planet Friday, July 20, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the museum on the National Mall. This is the one time of year the museum’s scientists from its Center for Earth and Planetary Studies bring their work to the museum galleries and interact with visitors, discussing their research and their work on NASA missions.

“Mars Day!” displays and activities will give opportunities for visitors to:

  • Learn about the rocks and minerals found at Curiosity’s landing site, Gale Crater, with geologist Jon Cawley and planetary scientist Lynnae Quick.
  • Learn about the history of water on Mars with planetary scientist Ross Irwin.
  • See high resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter with planetary scientist Sharon Wilson Purdy.  
  • Learn about the Viking mission to Mars with planetary scientists Jim Zimbelman and Bob Craddock, and historian Matt Shindell.
  • See a real meteorite that came from Mars with scientists from the National Museum of Natural History. 
  • Learn about Curiosity, the latest rover to operate on Mars with Mars Science Laboratory science team member John Grant.
  • Learn about radar mapping of Mars on the European Mars Express mission, MARSIS, with planetary scientist Tom Watters.
  • Learn how to see beneath the surface of Mars with planetary scientists Jenny Whitten and Bruce Campbell.
  • Listen to story time for youngsters with educator Ann Caspari.
  • View the surface of Mars in 3-D with red/blue glasses.  
  • Test their Mars knowledge at the Red Planet Quiz Show with “Martian of Ceremonies” Emmy Hughes.
  • Learn about NASM’s Regional Planetary Image Facility, a NASA-funded archive of planetary imagery.     
  • Test their skills as they maneuver a robotic rover or collect samples with a robotic arm.
  • Learn about Mars exploration in the “Exploring Mars” Planetarium Show presentation by planetary scientist Jim Zimbelman at 10:30 a.m.

            For more information and a detailed schedule of activities, visit

“Mars Day!” is held annually at the museum’s building in Washington to commemorate the July 1976 landing of Viking 1, the first spacecraft to operate on Mars. A test version of Viking 1 is displayed in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall.

The National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. The museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. 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 before 4 p.m. at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Note: Summer hours for the National Mall building are 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. and in effect until Aug. 31 unless otherwise noted. Check the museum’s website for the most up-to-date times.

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