Mars Rover Display Opens

New Addition to Space Exploration Expansion

 

SANTA ANA, Calif., Aug. 5, 2010 – A replica model of the Mars Rover, Curiosity, opens at Taco Bell Discovery Science Center. Built by the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), California Institute of Technology, the Curiosity model is the next addition to the Space Exploration Project expansion. This new exhibit, NASA Explores the Universe, features the Curiosity replica on a rotating turn table against a mural of the planet Mars. A large glass projection screen projects a “virtual scientist” that describes the Curiosity and its mission.

Four interactive stations complete NASA Explores the Universe. At the Blueprints interactive, guests explore the Mars Science Laboratory as they learn about the parts, tools, even the wheels of this vehicle. Look through a microscope and compare rocks that might be found on mars at the Investigation Microscope. Guests will also learn about Curiosity’s mission and discover the marvels of the Red Planet.

NASA Explores the Universe is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant Agreement No. NNX10AC97G issued through the Science Mission Directorate.

About Curiosity

Curiosity is the next Mars rover, scheduled to launch in the fall of 2011. When completed, the Curiosity will have a length of 9 feet (2.7 m) and weigh 1,984 pounds (900 kg) including 176 pounds (80 kg) of scientific instruments. It will be the same size as a Mini Cooper automobile. This compares to the Mars Exploration Rovers which have a length of 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 m) and weigh 384 pounds (174 kg) including 15 pounds (6.8 kg) of scientific instruments.

Curiosity, or Mars Science Laboratory, is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. Mars Science Laboratory is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet’s “habitability.”

To find out habitability, the rover will carry the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface. The rover will analyze dozens of samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks. The record of the planet’s climate and geology is essentially “written in the rocks and soil” — in their formation, structure, and chemical composition. The rover’s onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils, and the local geologic setting in order to detect chemical building blocks of life (e.g., forms of carbon) on Mars and will assess what the Martian environment was like in the past.

You can watch the building of Curiosity via webcast from the clean room at JPL here:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/mission/whererovernow/

About NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

The Science Mission Directorate (SMD) engages the Nation’s science community, sponsors scientific research, and develops and deploys satellites and probes with NASA’s partners around the world to answer fundamental questions requiring the view from and into space. SMD seeks to understand the origins, evolution, and destiny of the universe and to understand the nature of the strange phenomena that shape it. SMD also seeks to understand the nature of life in the universe and what kinds of life may exist beyond Earth; the solar system, both scientifically and preparation for human exploration; and the Sun and Earth, changes in the Earth-Sun system, and the consequences of the Earth-Sun relationship for life on Earth.

About Discovery Science Center

Orange County’s only Smithsonian Affiliate, Taco Bell Discovery Science Center is better than ever! If you haven’t been lately, it’s been too long! Boeing Rocket Lab is now open, and it’s inside the Cube! Walk through the belly of a giant dinosaur in Dino Quest, feel the winds of a hurricane in a simulator and gear up for flying pucks in The Science of Hockey. Hundreds of thousands of students and families experience science, Southern California-style at Discovery Science Center each year. What will you discover? 2500 N. Main St., Santa Ana, Calif., open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days. For more information on annual memberships, group rates, special events, teacher workshops, sleepovers and more, call 714-542-CUBE or visit us online: www.discoverycube.org

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