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Ontario Science Centre counts down to Perseverance rover’s landing on Mars

February 09, 2021

TORONTO (February 9, 2021) Rovers, robotics and rockets! The Ontario Science Centre is celebrating science, technology and space exploration as we count down to the scheduled landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on the Red Planet this month.

After seven months and about 480 million kilometres of space travel, Perseverance will enter the Martian atmosphere on February 18, 2021. The rover will land in Jezero Crater and begin its exciting mission: searching for signs of past life. Scientists believe Jezero Crater was once home to a lake, making it a likely spot for traces of ancient microbial life—if those traces exist, that is.

Perseverance and its remote team at NASA will be hard at work for at least two Earth years, during which time the rover will explore Jezero Crater, collect rock and soil samples for analysis and test new technology for future missions.

“This is an incredibly exciting mission that has been years in the making, and depending what the researchers find, it could fundamentally change the way we understand our nearest planetary neighbour,” says Ontario Science Centre astronomer Rachel Ward-Maxwell, PhD. “The team behind Perseverance includes engineers, physicists, geologists and mathematicians, showcasing how science is most powerful when we work together.”

To mark this occasion, the Ontario Science Centre has planned a Countdown to Mars week that’s jam-packed with fun activities to do at home. Make your own cardboard rover, build a bottle rocket or calculate the math behind the mission! You can even polish up your space vocabulary during a game night this Family Day weekend.  

Round out your week by downloading YumeGO, an augmented reality app that will allow you to experience space flight technologies from wherever you are. The Ontario Science Centre has partnered with YumeGO to develop five unique AR experiences. Explore SpaceX’s Raptor engine, dock cargo with the Canadarm2 or even pilot the Perseverance rover—no spacesuit required. Simply download the app from the App Store or Google Play store, click on Ontario Science Centre thumbnail and let your mission begin.

Along with these activities, the Ontario Science Centre will also be hosting two special livestreamed events, ideal for the whole family.

On Wednesday, February 17, at 2 p.m. ET, tune in to our Facebook or YouTube page for a livestream with Cecilia Leung, Ph.D., a planetary scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Leung will answer questions and explain what makes Mars similar yet so different from Earth—from its water to weather.

On Thursday, February 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. ET, join us for a Virtual Star Party on Twitter or YouTube, presented in partnership with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre. Admire the Moon, stars and more through a remote telescope view and learn about the next steps for human exploration of Mars.

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