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Monday, July 30, 2012

Houston, We Have a Replica: "Return to Mars" Exhibit Is Out of this World

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 9:30 AM

ARTIST CONCEPTION OF MARS CURIOSITY ROVER LANDING COURTESY OF NASA JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
  • Artist conception of Mars Curiosity rover landing courtesy of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

On August 5 the Curiosity rover, NASA's latest science lab on wheels, is scheduled to land on the surface of Mars.

Featuring an extendable robotic arm and ChemCam, a laser instrument used to vaporize rock and soil samples, Curiosity is an impressive piece of machinery. Unfortunately for us layfolk, we can't just walk on down to the Apple Store and try out our own sleekly designed iRover 4GS (so much faster than our old one).

But, thanks to the Exploratorium, we can experience the next best thing -- a full-scale replica of Curiosity. That is just one part of the museum's "Return to Mars" exhibit, which starts August 1st and boasts six weeks of special programming, featuring Red Planet pros and all-around smart hosts Paul Doherty, Ron Hipschman, and Robyn Higdon. You can check out behind-the-scenes interviews with scientists and engineers, and webcasts about rover technology and extremophiles (organisms that live in places like Antarctica). Once the rover lands, the museum's large monitors will showcase daily pictures from Mars, which is all we can hope for until Curiosity joins Instagram. Get on that, NASA; it's not rocket science.

"Return to Mars" starts at 10 a.m. on August 1 (and continues through Sept. 16) at the Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon (at Marina), S.F. Admission is $10-$15.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.
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About The Author

Matt Saincome

Matt Saincome

Bio:
Matt Saincome is SF Weekly's former music editor.

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