NASA plans to launch the Mars 2020 mission on Thurs., July 30, sending the Perseverance rover to collect samples from the rocky surface of our planetary neighbor, in search of signs of ancient life.
The FREE AMNH celebration is the day before, on Wed., July 29.
MarsFest explores the the question – Is there life on Mars?
MarsFest includes a special edition of the Museum’s Scientists at Home program with Museum Curator and meteoriticist Denton Ebel on what to expect from the latest mission in NASA’s Mars Exploration Program; a live guided virtual flight with Caltech professor and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist Bethany L. Ehlmann and the Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart to the locations on Mars that Perseverance is targeting
Also on the schedule is a space comedy jam featuring Marcia Belsky, Jay Jurden, Pooja Reddy, Chris Duffy, and Karen Chee.
Scientists at Home: Mars 2020—Live Watch Party
Join a live session with Museum Curator Denton Ebel, chair of the Division of Earth and Planetary Sciences, to find out what to expect from the latest, long-awaited mission in NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, including how it may help advance human exploration of our neighboring planet.
As part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, the Perseverance rover will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. What could this mission tell us about water and life on the Red Planet? Caltech professor and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist Bethany L. Ehlmann will lead us on a virtual field trip to the very locations that Perseverance is targeting to help answer these questions.
Dr. Ehlmann will be joined by the Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart and scientists in the chat to answer your questions live.
Space Comedy Jam
Tune in to a livestream comedy show celebrating all things space! As part of MarsFest, a stellar lineup of comedians will perform stand-up and funny songs, as well as play space-related games with you, the audience—all from the comfort of your own home.
The program features Marcia Belsky, Jay Jurden, Pooja Reddy, and Chris Duffy and is hosted by Karen Chee
MarsFest programming will be accessible via individual links available at amnh.org/calendar/mars-fest
Mars 2020 Goals
According to the NASA website, the Perseverance rover has four science objectives that support the Program’s science goals:
Looking for Habitability:
- Identify past environments capable of supporting microbial life
- Seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time
- Collect core rock and “soil” samples and store them on the Martian surface
Preparing for Humans:
- Test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere
All relate to the potential of Mars as a place for life. The first three consider the possibility of past microbial life.
Even if the rover does not discover any signs of past life, it paves the way for human life on Mars someday. The Perseverance rover also conducts other scientific studies related to its four objectives. For example, the rover monitors weather and dust in the Martian atmosphere.
Such studies are important for understanding daily and seasonal changes on Mars, and will help future human explorers better predict Martian weather.