First, thank you for signing up to host a Planetfest viewing party. By working together, we can get more people excited and invested in the future of space exploration than any time in recent memory.
We hope that this is the beginning of long and fruitful relationship. Even though there aren't any more rover landings for a while, there will be other exciting space outreach opportunities in the upcoming years. We want to be there to help you, and you there to help us, to develop a a large space-enthusiast community around the world.
I encourage you to email me directly if you have any questions or ideas about how we can make this event even better.
8/2/12 - Here's the agenda from today's meeting, it includes talking points about how to respond to the common question "Why spend money on space and not X?" - A Flickr group has been created so we can all share photos and short videos of the events: http://www.flickr.com/groups/planetfest2012/ - Added a link in the Background section to NASA's guide to finding Mars in the night sky on the evening of the 5th. - I'm reminding you again to check out NASA Eyes on the Solar System at http://eyes.jpl.nasa.gov which allows you to follow the whole progress of Curiosity down to Mars and explore the solar system.
7/27/12 - Updated event schedule (adds Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator of NASA)
7/25/12 - Updated the event schedule with latest changes. - Added downloadable PDFs of our Membership signup form. - Added an Advocacy section with information on looming budget cuts and links to our petition and others to contact local representatives. - New youtube videos for background information on Mars and MSL Curiosity - Activities section that link to Google Mars and NASA Eyes on the Solar System - PDF of the Build-your-own-Martian-Sundial papercraft included in the latest Planetary Report
Our live stream will be active from 9:30 am - 5:00ish PDT on Saturday, August 4th and 2:00 pm - 11ish pm PDT Sunday, August 5th. The stream will follow the schedule listed in the table below. Please note that the schedule will most likely have a few revisions between now and the actual event, but we'll keep you informed here with those changes. Sunday night will go as late as we can, but the hours will really depend on the success of the landing and when we start to see data coming down from the rover.
If you want to see when the event begins and ends in your time zone, you can use this handy World Timezone Converter. Another good time to know is that NASA expects to receive word of a successful landing at 10:31 pm PDT on Sunday, August 5th. I've made a page on the above site that lists the landing time in every time zone around the world (well, almost, it's 1 minute off due to constraints of that system).
Below are some example documents that you can use, modify, or discard to any degree you see fit in order to assist your local advertising efforts. If you have anything you think other event hosts can use, please email me and I'll post them here.
Please note that we're offering a special price on memberships to The Planetary Society as part of the landing party.
In addition to these digital materials, The Planetary Society wants to provide you with an additional packet of material for display at your event, for free! The packet will include:
Information about The Planetary Society
Copies of The Planetary Report magazine
Stickers for Save Our Science campaign
Information about our advocacy efforts with the impending cuts to the US Planetary Exploration program
Printed membership sign-up forms for The Planetary Society that include special discounts for Planetfest
Self-addressed, stamped envelopes for the membership forms
Additional copies of the 'for-kids' inset of the Planetary Report where you can build your copy of the Mars dial on Curiosity
Newsletter and volunteer signup forms
None of these items are required for you to display, but I hope that you'll find them useful. Please note that we will be offering discounted memberships to everyone who signs up as a member of the Planetary Society during this weekend.
With the triumph of Curiosity comes a stunning rebuke from the government. NASA's budget for planetary exploration is facing a proposed cut of 20%, with 40% of that coming directly from the Mars program. If these cuts go through, missions like Curiosity will be a thing of the past. The Planetary Society is working to Save our Science, by gathering petitions from the public, organizing letter-writing campaigns and phone calls to congress, and lobbying representatives directly in DC (we have a lobbyist working on behalf of planetary exploration). The budget (like all things at the moment) is due to be finalized after the November election, so we have time to work to reverse
Save Our Science Fact Sheet - Information about the impending budget cuts to the Planetary Exploration program
There are some fantastic software programs out there that let visitors experience Mars and the Solar System in some very impressive ways. We're setting up various workstations throughout our Planetfest so that guests can explore both topics (and be guided through them by volunteers). You might consider the following at your event:
Google Mars A part of Google Earth, Google Mars lets you explore all the satellite imagery available of Mars, Rover pictures, and offers guided tours of the planet itself. Requires the Google Earth software (free).
NASA Eyes on the Solar System This is a hidden gem. It is a fully-realized representation of our solar system includes almost every major moon, asteroid, comet, and US space probe. You can go back in time and watch Voyager 2 swing by Neptune, or see where Curiosity is at this very minute on its path to Mars. Make sure to check out the tutorial videos to see how you can unlock the true depth of this. Runs from your web browser and is free.
New as of 8/1/12: Follow MSL as it goes all the way down to Mars. Click in the Featured "Curiosity Rover Landing on Mars". There are buttons in the top-left corner of the screen. "Live" will update with live telemetry from the mission, "Preview" will take you into the future and display the projected descent and landing of the rover. It's very, very cool.
Dr. Bruce Betts' (The Planetary Society) Astronomy Course about Mars
And, of course, the infmamous "7 minutes of terror" video by NASA detailing the landing of Curiosity:
Hosting an official Planetfest party vs. other viewing party
Because we are listing all of these events within our Planetfest page, we want to ensure that our members and other visitors are clear about what type of event you will host.
Since not every host will be streaming our feed or displaying our materials, or even calling themselves a Planetfest, we want to make that distinction on our website. To be clear: we are eager to promote your event, and we want as many people as possible to witness the landing of MSL Curiosity. However, those events that brand themselves as a regional Planetfest party, display our live feed and/or display our physical materials (including membership signup forms, email newsletter signup forms, and information about the Save Our Science advocacy) will receive the following benefits:
Priority listing and "official" designation on our Planetfest Worldwide listing page
Targeted emails to our members within your geographical area alerting them to your event
All events will continued to be listed on the same page regardless of branding.
Let's Change the World
Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.