A car trip on I-95 this July and August might bring with it more than just the usual sights. Passers-by could be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of an extraterrestrial convoy, as a massive Mars rover concept vehicle, commissioned by Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, makes it way on a custom-trailer up and down the East Coast for tour stops in select cities. The vehicle will make its first stop in Atlanta for a three-day stay at the Sun Trust Stadium beginning July 14, and will then make its way to Washington, D.C., Jersey City, and New York City, returning to Cape Canaveral in late-August.
A highlight of the Summer of Mars campaign at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the Mars rover was designed as a traveling exhibit to inspire the public about space exploration and interplanetary travel. The 5,500-pound, nearly 11-foot tall rover will be on display at the visitor complex through the end of June, at which point it will begin its East Coast tour.
“At Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, we create immersive space experiences for our guests,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “The Mars rover will give guests a front row seat to NASA’s Journey to Mars and bring the future of space exploration to life for the generation that will first step foot on Mars, as they see and learn what it will take to travel the landscape of the Red Planet.”
In addition to the Mars rover, the free Summer of Mars Experience will include interactive games that allow consumers to learn about plant life and habitats on Mars, virtual reality which will transport visitors to the Red Planet, periodic pump rocket launches, photo opportunities, premium giveaways and more.
Tour dates are as follows; for specific information and times, visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com
July 14-17, 2017 The Battery Atlanta at Sun Trust Park, Atlanta, Ga.
July 21-23, 2017 National Air & Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
July 29-30, 2017 Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, N.J.
August 2-6, 2017 Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York, N.Y.
August 12, 2017 North Point Mall, Alpharetta, Ga.
Built by Cape Canaveral-based Parker Brothers Concepts, with input from NASA-engineer science and specifications, the Mars rover seats four passengers and was built to handle the climate, conditions and environment on the Red Planet as they are currently understood. It is a dual-purpose vehicle that can be used as either a small scout vehicle or a full research laboratory and features carbon fiber accents, solar panels and 50-inch wheels that are specifically designed to let the fine sands of Mars slip through. It is powered by a 700-volt battery and is meant to travel over dunes, rocks, craters and hills at 2 – 5mph. The Mars rover was created to be as realistic as possible for educational purposes, but won’t be making the trip to Mars.
The focus on Mars as the next space destination is incorporated as a theme throughout Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Mars-themed activities include the Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted live theater and interactive experience; the Journey to Space 3D film in the IMAX® Theater; a special edition of Science on a Sphere – Red and Blue – about the Red Planet, a custom 3D Eyes on the Red Planet presentation highlighting the last two decades of our robotic exploration on Mars; and Cosmic Quest, an interactive game that includes missions to Mars like building a Mars habitat.
The culmination of the Summer of Mars campaign will be the opening of the new Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) center. Scheduled to open in fall 2017, it will offer an experience unlike anywhere else, and, along with the companion program Mars Base 1, will bring guests as close to training, living and working on the Red Planet as possible without leaving Earth. In the ATX center, groups and individuals will experience training like a real astronaut using virtual reality and simulators. Training activities include landing on Mars, walking on its surface, driving on the rough terrain and experiencing microgravity. Or they can spend the day working on Mars as a rookie astronaut on Mars Base 1. Guests will be transported to the Red Planet, dock with Mars Base 1 and work in the Plant Lab, operate robotics and solve engineering challenges – just like the astronauts who will one day travel to Mars. Technology such as floor-to-ceiling 4K screens will create a realistic experience and participants will feel as though they’re actually being transported to Mars. Each guest will receive a summary of activities including STEM subjects utilized and suggested future careers related to the day’s accomplishments.
For more information, visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.