The University of New Orleans wants to take you closer to Mars.
A $75,000 replica of the Mars Rover Curiosity, a car-sized robot that has been collecting information from the surface of the Red Planet since 2012, is coming to UNO’s campus this month.
The half-sized model of the six-wheeled, one-ton Curiosity will be on display at the University Center Sept. 22-23 for viewing by school groups and open to the public on Saturday, Sept. 24—its first-ever public display in Louisiana.
“This is a rare opportunity to share a unique item with the New Orleans community and to show future scientists and engineers what is possible with a STEM education,” said Karen Thomas, associate dean of STEM Outreach, Recruitment and Retention in the UNO College of Sciences. “Space exploration is exciting and NASA’s ‘Journey to Mars’ is the most ambitious program yet.”
The Rover Curiosity is the centerpiece of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory. It employs technology designed to assess whether Mars is or ever has been capable of supporting life. It was built with Siemens software and is equipped with 10 science instruments designed to capture information about the planet’s rocks, soil and more, including a laser-firing instrument that has the power to check the elemental composition of rocks from a distance. A robotic arm also drills and scoops soil samples, takes photographs—including the occasional “selfie”—and sieves and parcels out sample into analytical laboratory instruments within the rover.
The UNO exhibit is made possible through a collaboration with Hazen and Sawyer—an employee-owned firm that plans, designs and oversees construction of environmental infrastructure for safe water treatment and delivery—and the UNO College of Sciences, UNO College of Engineering, the UNO Office of the President and Boeing.
In addition to the Mars Rover, visitors will be treated to other exhibits and STEM-related demonstrations provided by the UNO College of Sciences and College of Engineering as well as UNO student organizations, industry partners and local organizations focused on STEM outreach.
The Pontchartrain Astronomy Society will also be on campus to provide telescope viewing of Mars on Friday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting. This is free and open to the public.
Dave Lavery, a program executive for Solar Systems Exploration at NASA, will also be on hand to answer questions by area high school FIRST Robotics teams that have been invited to participate.
“Our job at UNO is to instill in our students a passion for learning and drive to push boundaries so they can truly reach their potential,” said Thomas. “As a member of the greater New Orleans community, it is also our job to expose local schools and the public to such experiences so they too can learn and explore the possibilities offered by an education in the STEM fields. We could not be more excited about bringing this wonderful and rare learning opportunity to our campus and community.”
The Mars Rover exhibit and STEM exhibits will be open to various groups as follows:
UNO faculty, staff and students: Thursday, Sept. 22, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 23, 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
School groups, grades 6-12, that register in advance: Thursday, Sept. 22, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 23, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
General public: Saturday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, go to http://marsrover.uno.edu.