HAMPTON, Va. - A full-scale Mars Curiosity rover model that was featured in President Barack Obama's Inaugural Parade is one of the highlights of a Black History Month celebration, called "Red Tails to Red Planet," at NASA Langley Research Center's official visitors' facility, the Virginia Air & Space Center (VASC).
Visitors can learn more about Mars and NASA Langley's role in the recent Mars Science Laboratory mission and celebrate past contributions of aerospace pioneers at the VASC on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. On hand at the event will be NASA researchers and members of the Tidewater Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen who will share moreabout the many achievements of the "Red Tails" during World War II.
The Mars Science Laboratory mission that landed the rover on the "Red Planet" last August comes to life with a number of hands-on exhibits and activities. Participants can drive a Mars rover including one that is made from Robotix, a modular, motorized robot construction system. The challenges of landing on Mars will be explored using a Mars lander egg dropcontest, "Drag Race to Mars" activities and a virtual landing experience by way of the "Mars Rover Landing" Xbox 360 video game developed by NASA.
Visitors can learn more about the challenging living conditions on Mars, which can get as cold as -200 degrees Fahrenheit, as they build a Mars habitat. In addition, the super-cold of outer space will be revealed in the hands-on demonstration, "Space Freeze." A solar system twister game will show what the inner planets have in common and participants can become rocket scientists when they build balloon rockets to send to Mars.
Visitors can also discover more about Orion, NASA's next human spacecraft that will go to the Moon, Mars or even an asteroid. A full-scale test version of NASA's Orion spacecraft is now on permanent display at the Virginia Air & Space Center and offers a glimpse of NASA's next step in human space exploration.
If Earth-bound thrill rides are more their speed, guests can participate in Dr. D's Funky Physics show, inspired by the twists and turns of roller coasters.
11 a.m. Dr. D's Funky Physics show
12 p.m. Dr. D's Funky Physics show
1 p.m. Originalmembers of the Tuskegee Airmen will share their personal stories and original Tuskegee Airman Ezra Hill will sign copies of his book, "The Red Tail Angels: A Story of the Tuskegee Airmen."
2 p.m. Dr. D's Funky Physics show
Students from Hampton University will also be on-hand during the four-hour event with displays and artifacts touching on the historically black college's role in the fields of science, technology and history.
For more information about NASA's Langley Research Center, please go to: http://www.nasa.gov/langley
To learn more about NASA Langley's official visitors center, the Virginia Air & Space Center, please go to: http://www.vasc.org