On January 3-4, 2004, The Planetary Society will host "WILD ABOUT MARS" at the Pasadena Convention Center, featuring special guests and the opportunity to witness the landing of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover on a giant screen with thousands of other space enthusiasts.
Spirit will be the first of the two Mars Exploration Rovers to bounce down onto the Martian landscape, beginning an exciting new era of exploration. This historic event happens only one day after Stardust travels through Comet Wild 2 to collect samples for Earth return. Both missions will be celebrated at the "WILD ABOUT MARS" event.
"WILD ABOUT MARS" will feature a host of special guests, such as John Rhys-Davies, who stars as Gimli the dwarf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Rhys-Davies, a longtime friend of The Planetary Society, is flying in from England to perform dramatic readings from Ray Bradbury's collected works on both Saturday and Sunday.
Additional featured "WILD ABOUT MARS" programs include:
Bill Nye the Science Guy doing a live show on stage (with audience participation) on Sunday, January 4
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and other guests discussing Future Human Exploration of Mars on Sunday, January 4
Robert Picardo, from Star Trek Voyager, on stage with renowned science fiction author Ray Bradbury to present one of Bradbury's tributes to exploration -- Saturday, January 3
Mars in the Mind of Man: Past and Far Future on Saturday, January 3 -- wild and not so wild speculation by scientists, astronauts, and science fiction authors
Stardust mission update by mission team members on Saturday, January 3
Updates on international missions to Mars including Mars Express and Beagle 2
Space exploration exhibits will include a full-sized replica of the Mars Exploration Rover built from 70,000 LEGO bricks, a 47-foot long replica of a blade from The Planetary Society's Cosmos 1 solar sail, which was last on display at New York's Rockefeller Center, and several full-scale spacecraft models from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
"If you don't have a seat in JPL's mission control, WILD ABOUT MARS is the place to be to witness our latest journey to Mars in the company of renowned scientists, celebrities and authors who share a passion for space exploration," said Bruce Betts, Director of Projects for The Planetary Society.
The Mars Exploration Rover data featured at "WILD ABOUT MARS" will come from live feeds originating at JPL. "WILD ABOUT MARS" will keep late hours in order to offer the public and the media a first transmission from the Martian surface on a large screen.
Images returned from Stardust from its encounter with Comet Wild 2 will also be featured, as well as mission updates on the fleet of U.S and European spacecraft converging on the Red Planet. Never before have this many spacecraft descended upon Mars all at once.
"WILD ABOUT MARS" will be held in the Exhibition Hall of the Pasadena Center at 300 East Green Street. Admission ranges from $19.75 (one day) to $38.75 (both days) for adults (less for members of The Planetary Society) and $12.50-$25.00 for children ages 6-16. Under 6 are free. Call 1-877-PLANETS or visit website to order tickets.