Space Foundation Discovery Center hosts Mars Week as NASA’s Perseverance rover set to land Thursday

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COLORADO SPRINGS — It’s a journey months in the making and now NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance is preparing to land on the red planet, and the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center is celebrating the event with activities and events for all.

Perseverance rover is set to reach Mars on Feb. 18 around 2 p.m., but that will only be possible if the rover survives what NASA’s dubbed the ‘seven minutes of terror.’

“The last time we sent a rover like Perseverance to Mars was in 2012 when Curiosity landed,” Curator for Space Foundation’s Discovery Center Rachel English said.

Perseverance will have virtually the same landing as Curiosity. But there is only about a 50% chance this landing will be successful. If it is, Perseverance will work to determine whether life ever existed on Mars.

“It’s going to be doing some incredible work in Jezero crater, where it’s landing, to search for signs of microbial life on Mars,” English added. “So it’ll tell us a lot about the history of Mars as a planet from a geological standpoint, from a climate standpoint, and also, you know, we might find some cool fossils.”

“It’s novel technologies that are enabling the next leaps of exploration: landing with more precision and safely, learn how to make oxygen from CO2 out of the atmosphere and more,” NASA’s Associate Administrator For Science Thomas Zurbuchen explained.

Whether the mission is successful or not, the Discovery Center is celebrating all week long!

Upcoming Events:

  • February 16 – Discovery Center Outreach at Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center
    • Rachel English and Matthew Driftmier will be taking rovers/spheres over in the morning to engage with visitors.
  • February 16 – Blastoff: Mars Rocks video lesson
    • How does the geography of Earth relate to what we know about Mars? Discovery center talks to Garden of the Gods Geologist Jenn Heiny to learn more!
  • February 18 – Simulcast of Mars Perseverance Landing
    • Space Foundation will be simulcasting the NASA footage of the landing of NASA’s Mars Lander, Perseverance from their social media pages so you won’t miss a thing when we touchdown on the Red Planet.
  • February 18 – Virtual Family Star Party: Moon and Mars
    • Join the Discovery Center to see a close pairing of the Moon and Mars in the evening sky.
  • February 20 – Celebrating Perseverance at the Discovery Center
    • Celebrate the latest NASA mission to Mars with themed activities throughout the day. Build a lander of your own, learn about Martian geography, and more! Geologist Jenn Heiny, with Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center, will talk about the geology of Garden of the Gods and how it relates to Mars.  The will also include some giveaways, 3D printed Mars rovers, and Jeff’s Zach and Zoey Mars booklets.
  • February 24 – Virtual Home Study Program: The First Mars Colony
    • SFDC will host a Live Science on a Sphere presentation about a human mission to Mars and the first Mars colony. Then be guided through a few at-home activities showing ways students can learn alongside NASA the same knowledge and skills needed to send the first human mission to Mars and to create the first Mars colony, including (3D printing, mission planning, and designing/building a Mars habitat)

English added, “We realize that everyone is getting a little bit of screen fatigue, and we work really hard here at the discovery center to make sure that everything is clean, fun, and safe.”

The great part about space exploration is that even if we fail, we still learn.

“Failure is one of our greatest teachers as scientists and engineers, so no matter what happens on Thursday, we’re really excited,” English said.

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