SJAA Ephemeris January 2004 | SJAA Home | Contents | Previous | Next

Exploratorium Happenings

Linda Dackman


Throughout January, including January 3&4, 6-11, 13-18, 23-25

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 special weekend programs and films and webcasts. Information, links and Mars highlights will be available on our website,, which launches December 1, 2003. All live events and special weekend programs are free with museum admission. This program is made possible by the National Science Foundation, with support from the McBean Family Foundation.

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 "Mars yards." 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.


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