Mars is more than a red planet that inspired bad movies in the early 2000’s. Mars is the red planet that NASA will visit within this generation and the astronauts that will be part of that mission are already born. To our 7 and 5 year old that doesn’t mean too much, but to adults who can fathom how large a feat this really is it’s mind boggling. This is the Summer of Mars and NASA is rolling out the red carpet for its Mars Rover Concept Vehicle.
The Mars Rover Concept Vehicle is touring the east coast and is appearing at Suntrust Park in Atlanta July 14-16, National Air & Space Museum in Washington D.C. July 21-22, Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ July 29-30, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York August 3-6 and at North Point Mall in Alpharetta, GA on August 12.
It’s important to point out that the Mars Rover Concept Vehicle is a concept. This is not the actually vehicle that’ll be rolling on big red looking for Marvin or manhunters. However, the vehicle is the real deal in that it’s big, life size and has some of the working conditions that astronauts will encounter up there. It also looks a lot like the Batmobile and somewhere Christopher Nolan’s Mars parents are smiling at their most famous progeny.
It’s also beautiful. The tires look like something a child would play with. They’re airless, metal creations that can fold inward, but are also strong enough to climb over rocks with enough traction to power through Mars sand fields.
The interior is part tank, hybrid car and DeLorean. Its seats are surprisingly comfortable and are compromised of a series of rolls. The interior dash is sleek and makes great use of space. There really is a gear shift too and it steers like a normal vehicle. However, its top speed is six miles an hour, so don’t any mental images of doing doughnuts. This vehicle is all science, packaged in just enough pop culture to make children dream about going to Mars.
I was slightly more excited about seeing it than our children. But once they actually saw it, they got it and you could see their eyes spin with wonder and curiosity. Do you have a great name for the Mars Rover Concept Vehicle? They’re having a contest on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to #NameTheRover. The contest runs through August 6 so use the hashtag, keep it family friendly and get creative.
After the vehicle’s tour it’ll go back to Kennedy Space Center where visitors can experience all sorts of outer space adventures. In speaking with the representative from there our kids seemed most curious about the Rocket Garden. It’s two words that normally wouldn’t create a compound word in definition, but in this case they do and that’s part of the wonder of space travel.