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Journey to Mars: Mars Spirit Live at the Exploratorium

For Immediate Release:
January 01, 2004

Media Available
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367

Journey to Mars: Mars Spirit Live at the Exploratorium

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.

Mars Webcasts
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.

Hours of Operation & New Evening Hours
Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm;  every Thursday evening adults only (ages 18 and up) 6pm-10pm.

$29 for adults, with lower rates for SF Bay Area residents, youth, seniors, students, teachers and the disabled. Tickets available at the door and advance tickets available online at www.exploratorium.edu/visit/tickets.

Getting Here
The Exploratorium is easily accessible by public transit. Convenient parking is available nearby. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit/location-directions

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is the global leader in informal learning, igniting curiosity and inspiring creativity in people of all ages. The world-renowned science museum creates original, interactive exhibits, on display at more than 1,000 science centers, museums and public spaces around the world. Dedicated to education reform in and out of the classroom, the Exploratorium is a premier professional development center for educators and a creator of award-winning educational resources. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has influenced generations of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, teachers, students, children, museum professionals and everyday doers, reaching nearly 180 million people annually from around the globe. On April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium opened at Pier 15 in the heart of San Francisco's Embarcadero, where it will celebrate a new era of experiences that encourage critical thinking and awaken wonder for generations to come. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit.

Pier 15
San Francisco
California 94111
(415) 528-4444 telephone

Contact Us:
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367