Mars Perseverance: Meet and Greet!

Saturday, April 30, 2022 • 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 1, 2022 • 11:00 a.m.–Noon Daytime Members + Donors Only
Noon–4:00 p.m. Open to the Public

Bechtel Gallery 3

Not a member yet? Join us and get free admission all year long!

Note: Free for members and donors—only a membership card and ID required for entry. The Tactile Dome is currently closed.

Don’t miss the last chance to learn more about how scientists are studying Mars and see a model of the Mars Perseverance rover up close! Since landing on February 18, 2021, Persy has been hunting for signs of ancient microbial life. It is collecting and storing samples of Martian rock and sediment to be retrieved by planned future missions for closer study on Earth

This weekend experience a full-scale, lifelike model of Perseverance and hear directly from Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists and engineers about the rover, what it’s finding, and NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. And, experience the youth-made Tinkering School Mars Mission project, which lets you test drive a robot inspired by Perseverance.

Perseverance looking back at its wheel tracks. Courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech. Learn more.

The Wheel Laboratory
With Tinkering School

11:00 a.m and 1:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

Step into Tinkering School’s wheel laboratory to try your hand at crafting a wheel that can traverse a model Mars terrain from start to finish. The Mars environment eats away at wheels, making driving on the Red Planet a challenge. Much like the engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Tinkering School team went through a lengthy iterative process to land on the wheel that works best for the small-scale rovers they built as part of their Mars Mission program. 

Tinkering School, a San Francisco–based educational program dedicated to youth-centered making and tinkering, created Tinkering School Mars Mission as an Earth-bound program that maintains the accuracy and challenges of real Mars rover operations. The team, composed of young people ages 14 to 20, collaborated to build an educational, hands-on experience operating rovers in a simulated Martian lava tube.

Mars Helicopter: Ingenuity
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

Take a look at the model of a new, ingenious Mars explorer. Ingenuity is a small, autonomous aircraft that hitched a ride to Mars attached to the belly of Perseverance. Its first flight on April 19, 2021, was a major milestone: the aircraft climbed to about 3 meters (10 feet) above ground, briefly hovered in the air, completed a turn, and landed. It was the first powered, controlled flight in the extremely thin Martian atmosphere and the first on another planet! Ingenuity has performed additional flights, going incrementally longer distances and reaching higher altitudes. What’s learned from these test flights will inform future research and innovation on how rovers and aerial explorers can work together.

Roving with Perseverance
11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Studio

Take a deep dive into Perseverance’s fantastic journey with these highlights from the many animations, photographs, movies, and documentation that offer insight into Persy’s journey so far. From construction and pre-launch, through the images being sent back from Mars on a regular basis, this multi-screen viewing space takes you through Persy’s life on Mars. An evocative soundscape by Wayne Grim and an immersive video experience by Rick Danielson set the mood.

Mars Mission Q&A
With Members of NASA’s Mars Mission Team

11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

While Ingenuity is the name of a different space explorer, NASA’s Perseverance rover is certainly an ingenious technological and scientific achievement. Outfitted with seven instruments, over twenty cameras, and two microphones, Persy builds on the work of previous Mars missions with the goal of offering new insights into the Red Planet. NASA’s Mars missions are developed and overseen by an expansive team of scientists, engineers, technicians, and researchers. Join members of the team to learn more about the 2020 mission, Perseverance, and the extensive innovation and iterations the team went through to get the rover’s launch ready.

Ways of Seeing: Gravitational Lensing
With Melissa Walter

11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

As the Perseverance rover gathers data about Mars, scientists elsewhere are looking out into the universe trying to understand all that we don’t know about its origins and makeup. Gravitational lensing is one of the key astrophysical phenomena that informs their research. The gravitational pull of massive objects like galaxy clusters can bend light. Like looking through a magnifying glass, gravitational lensing helps researchers see far-distant objects. In her work, artist Melissa Walter explores and creates abstracted interpretations of gravitational lensing in the context of dark matter. Join Walter to learn more about gravitational lensing, and to create an interpretation of your own using one of her techniques. Plus, check out a selection of work from her more than 20 years as a science illustrator. 

Melissa Walter is an abstract, mixed media artist whose practice is rooted in observation, research, and translation of science topics. Walter’s experience of working as a science illustrator for NASA greatly impacts her fine art work, allowing her to take complicated theories and distill them into their visual essence to make space for a new accessibility.