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Free event Sunday to celebrate landing of Mars rover

The public is invited to join area astronomers at Western Kentucky University’s Hardin Planetarium Sunday (Aug. 5) for a free celebration of the arrival at Mars of NASA’s Curiosity rover.

Doors open at 8 p.m. and just before midnight, the event culminates with a chance to watch the live NASA-TV satellite feed from Mars Science Laboratory mission control of Curiosity’s scheduled entry, descent and 12:30 a.m. landing on Mars. Through out the night there will be Mars themed activities, speakers and exhibits for all participants to enjoy, including demonstrations of orbital mechanics, balloon-powered rocket challenges, and discussions of “The War of the Worlds” and other fictional tales of Martians or life on Mars. From twilight until about 10:30 p.m. participants may view Mars and Saturn through small telescopes.

NASA’s next Mars rover vehicle, Curiosity, will study whether the Gale Crater area of Mars has evidence of past and present habitable environments. The Mars Science Laboratory mission carries 10 instruments to undertake a broad examination of past and present processes in the Martian atmosphere and on its surface. The primary mission will last one Mars year (98 weeks).

Mars rover Curiosity

A rendering of the Mars rover Curiosity from NASA.

This celebration is free and appropriate for families and children ages 7 and up. All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The Hardin Planetarium is located at the corner of 15th and State Streets on the WKU campus.

Questions and requests for further information should be e-mailed the director of Hardin Planetarium — richard.gelderman@wku.edu.

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