Find out how the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science introduces visitors to Mars

Beginning Saturday, November 19, the Roving With Perseverance touring exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science in Albuquerque will open to the public and will feature full-size replicas of the Mars Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter. (Courtesy New Mexico Department of Culture)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Since a trip to Mars is a bit out of reach, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science brings the red planet closer to earthlings.

Beginning Saturday, November 19, the Roving With Perseverance traveling exhibit will open to the public. Full-size replicas of both NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity Helicopter will be on display.

Museum research curator Larry Crumpler, who is also on the rover’s mission team, helped orchestrate the addition of the temporary exhibit.

“I figured we should have it in a museum of all places and be a member of the actual science team,” he said. “Not everyone can get an exhibit like this, you have to have a purpose.”

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science is the only museum in the area and one of the few institutes in the country to house the replicas.

“It’s just going to be a great thing to walk people through the project and show what we’re doing on Mars,” Crumpler said.

The real Perseverance roams Mars in search of ancient microbial life and collects data on the red planet’s geology and climate. The goal of the mission is to one day open up the possibilities for human exploration of Mars.

Crumpler will be joined by scientists and engineers from the University of New Mexico, Los Alamos National Laboratory and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the exhibition’s opening weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, the experts will be available to answer questions between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Crumpler said there will be video panels showing the actual vehicles in action, including images from the rover’s perspective during self-driving activities.

In addition, the mission staff will give a short presentation in the planetarium every day at 1 p.m

“We do a lot of space science and participate in the ongoing missions,” Crumpler said of the museum. “We’re trying to reach the widest possible range of science and to introduce the public and children to more than just ancient life and fossils.”

Saturday’s event at the museum will also be a little sweeter. Visitors can take part in chocolate tastings as part of “Sweet Saturdays,” a sequel to the current touring exhibition “Chocolate: The Exhibition,” which has been housed at the museum since the summer.

Roving with Perseverance is on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science through June 5, 2023.

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