If you can’t get to a Mars Science Lab landing party, one website aims to bring the party to you.
Explore Mars, a not-for-profit, has joined up with several space-faring organizations and firms to create Get Curious. It’s a one-stop shop for all things concerning Curiosity, the centerpiece of MSL.
“Curiosity will rock the world” proclaims an all-caps banner at the top of the website as an animated picture of Curiosity dangles beneath a jetting shell.
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Below the banner sits a large clock, counting down the seconds until Curiosity’s wheels touch Martian ground.
You can simulate the touchdown on this website simply by scrolling down – the animated Curiosity picture slowly lowers to a picture of what looks to be Martian rocks and soil. (The animation actually falls past the surface instead of touching down, but you get the idea.)
Explore Mars’ aim is to drum up interest for its Human-to-Mars Summit next year. Delegates, including several senior NASA scientists involved with MSL, will gather in Washington, D.C. April 6-8, 2013 to discuss how to get humans on the Red Planet by 2030. The George Washington University Space Policy Institute is a co-sponsor of the conference.
“The mission of Explore Mars is to make humans a multi-planet species,” the Get Curious website states.
“Our programs are aimed at making that happen within the next 20 years, while being safe, well-planned and relatively comfortable for the humans we send to Mars. To accomplish this, Explore Mars runs technical challenges to stimulate the development and/or improvement of technologies that will make human Mars missions more efficient and feasible.”
Included on Get Curious is a list of MSL landing parties (compiled with help from Yuri’s Night), a summary of Curiosity’s objectives, and pictures and videos of the mission.
Additionally, several cities – such as Detroit, Houston and Atlanta – agreed to display gigantic simulated Mars rocks between July 26 and Aug. 9 (dates vary by city) to promote Explore Mars and the website.
The list of participating entities in Get Curious includes Aerojet, Explore Mars, National Geographic, Phillips & Co., United Launch Alliance and Yuri’s Night.
The car-sized Curiosity is expected to reach Mars Aug. 6. It will dig for signs of habitable conditions in Gale Crater.
Lead image caption: A screenshot from Get Curious website.
Elizabeth Howell (M.Sc. Space Studies ’12) is a contributing editor for SpaceRef and award-winning space freelance journalist living in Ottawa, Canada. Her work has appeared in publications such as SPACE.com, Air & Space Smithsonian, Physics Today, the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., CTV and the Ottawa Business Journal.