From Robots and “Mars Yards” to Special Events and Live Webcasts
January 3&4, 6-11, 13-18, 23-25
In museum and online at www.exploratorium.edu/mars
Spirit, the new, rugged Mars Exploration Rover (MER), lands on Mars, January 4, 2004, to find out what happened to the water once believed to be on Mars and to identify any evidence of life. The entire month of January at the Exploratorium is dedicated to this Mars exploration — from the first Spirit images webcast from the Exploratorium, to visitor-controlled robots that can go on missions in “Mars yards” in the museum, to a full-scale model of MER, as well as almost daily in-museum events and webcasts and special weekend programs and films*. Information, links and Mars highlights will be available on our website, www.exploratorium.eedu/mars, which launches December 1, 2003. All live events and special weekend programs are free with museum admission. Journey to Mars is made possible through the generosity of the Jim Clark Endowment for Internet Education, the National Science Foundation, and the McBean Family Foundation. Web technology made possible by Macromedia.
To bring the space experience down to earth, the Exploratorium has acquired a full-scale, movable model of the actual MER from the Jet Propulsion Labs (JPL). On view in the Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio through January 18th, it has all the features of the MER: unfolding solar panels, rocker bogie suspension and aluminum wheels. It will also display the stereo and infrared cameras, sensors and other instruments (non-operational) that will be on board the MER. This replica is the only way for visitors to see the innovative robots that JPL scientists “drive” across the Martian landscape.
Adding to the space experience, the Exploratorium features two robots, built by
Carnegie-Mellon Robotics Institute, in 10’ x 10’ “Mars yards.” Almost like Martian
sandboxes, these areas simulate the red planet’s sandy, rocky terrain. Museum visitors will be able to send the small robots on missions by directing them and operating the on-board cameras, viewable at a kiosk in the webcast studio, as well as on the Exploratorium website, www.exploratorium.edu/mars.
Journey to Mars programming is as follows.
Sunday, January 4-11, 13-18, 23-25, 2004, 2pm
Come in person or log on to www.exploratorium.edu/mars to see the Mars mission data in near-real-time as it becomes available from Spirit. Webcasts and video conferences with NASA/JPL scientists and engineers will investigate any interesting findings. Exploratorium scientists will discuss images and point out what is important and why, as they search for signs of water and life. Hear talks and take part in demonstrations, such as boiling water as you would on Mars — in a vacuum — where it boils and freezes at the same time.
In addition, explore what it would feel like to plant your feet in Martian soil. What strange sights and smells would you experience? See fire the only way it can burn on Mars, since there is no oxygen. Explore what a human might experience on the dusty desert landscapes of Mars, as daily event/webcasts also explore what it would mean to be a human on Mars. Please see separate Journey to Mars Webcasts schedule for full details.
Journey to Mars Weekend Special Events
Saturday, January 3; Sunday, January 11; Saturday and Sunday 17&18, 24&25
Weekend special events for the whole family include hands-on activities, films, and demonstrations, from an egg drop simulation of the delicate art of parking on Mars to a new breed of robots that can glide over walls and obstacles with the ease of a cockroach, presented by Dr. Robert Full of UC Berkeley’s PolyPEDAL lab. Please see separate Journey to Mars Weekend Special Events schedule.