On Thursday, February 18, 2021, Perseverance, a NASA rover about the size of a small car that launched from Earth in July 2020, will land in the Jezero crater in the northern hemisphere of Mars (18.5N, 77.4E). Its mission highlights include several far-reaching, audacious goals, including looking for signs of ancient life and demonstrating technology for future exploration. Learning about this unique undertaking through resources like our blog Exploration is About Perseverance: Mars 2020 and NASA’s mission page will help communities understand the importance of Perseverance, both in name and in rover. But can we do more to be a part of this historical event? Yes!
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that our physical location is never a barrier to learning and discovery. Though Perseverance is hundreds of millions of miles from Earth, you can be a part of this groundbreaking moment for humanity. The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has created dynamic and diverse resources to help learners of all ages participate in the rover landing. Programs begin Thursday, February 9, and continue until the day of the landing. Explore these opportunities and realize your place in Perseverance’s mission to Mars!
Flights of Fancy Story Time Premiering Tuesday, February 9 / Ages 2-10
Museum educators held a virtual storytime with “Mo the Mars Man,” an original story by museum educator Ann Caspari and illustrations by museum educator Diane Kidd. Watch the story and afterwards, join in as educators lead an activity to make a mini sandbox and oobleck—a substance made of cornstarch and water—for sensory play!
Families should bring plastic food containers (recycled!), sand or cornmeal, corn starch, and water for this interactive activity. Learn more at Soar Together: Exploring Other Worlds.
Air and Space Live Chat Thursday, February 11 / All Ages
Explore the most recent Air and Space Live Chat as museum experts answer questions about exploring the Red Planet with special guest Abigail Harrison, also known as “Astronaut Abby,” a STEM advocate and founder of “The Mars Generation.” The live chat can be watched on Facebook or on the museum website!
Perseverance Online Store Thursday, February 11 - Sunday, February 21 / All Ages
The National Air and Space Museum and Smithsonian Store has launched a limited-time online store featuring merchandise celebrating the landing of Mars Rover Perseverance and previous exploration of the Red Planet! The store will be accessible Thursday, February 11, to Sunday, February 21, on the museum’s website and will feature shirts, mugs, stickers, blankets, and more.
Soar Together at Air and Space Friday, February 12 - Saturday, February 13 / All Ages, Family Oriented
This Soar Together: Exploring Other Worlds family day will explore the universe through programs and activities that highlight the latest exploration of Mars and contemplate other worlds. Activities, like Dancing the Milky Way and The Astronomy Guide for YOU, will help learners understand what is needed to live on an inhospitable planet and ask them to consider what type of world they want to live in through discussion and dance.
Making Tracks on Mars Sunday, February 14 / All Ages
The Smithsonian Channel will air Making Tracks on Mars at 10 pm ET on February 14. This new documentary will trace the history of Martian rovers and explores the design and drama of the new rover’s launch and landing. It will also follow Smithsonian scientists into the field to reveal how Mars is both familiar and alien.
Drawing on the resources and research behind the documentary, the app Mission to Mars AR will allow anyone with a smartphone or tablet to participate in the mission through innovative augmented reality experiences grounded in the real equipment and events.
Air and Space Pre-Landing Live Chat Thursday, February 18 / All Ages
Museum scientists John Grant and Mariah Baker will join Air and Space educators for a live chat from 1 to 2:10 pm ET airing on NASA TV and the museum’s Facebook page and website. The scientists from the museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies will answer questions from viewers before the scheduled landing.
These are not the only ways to celebrate Perseverance’s Mars landing. On February 18, watch live landing coverage on NASA TV beginning at 2:15 pm ET, and watch NASA's first-ever Spanish broadcast of a robotic landing on another planet at 2:30 pm ET.
Visitors can find a variety of other fun resources online, like NASA’s Mars Perseverance Photo Booth. The important thing is to observe this remarkable accomplishment and see that together, humanity is still reaching for the stars. As NASA associate administrator Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen said during the announcement event: "There has never been exploration without perseverance. Perseverance and curiosity together is what exploration is all about."
Ignite your curiosity this February. Be a part of the mission to Mars.
Kirby Ewald is a Public Affairs Specialist at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.