Need a unique theme for summer camp or afterschool programs this year? 2018 is the summer of Mars! In May, NASA’s InSight Mission launches from Southern California to Mars to study marsquakes! During InSight’s trip to a post-Thanksgiving landing, Earth and Mars are on the same side of the Sun, so Mars appears a bit bigger and brighter for the evenings this summer. Engage your youth with NASA and related activities about observing Mars, rocket launches, and marsquakes. Enhance summer learning opportunities while having fun!
NASA’s InSight Mars lander is designed to get the first in-depth look at the “heart” of Mars, its insides: the crust, mantle, and core. It will be the Red Planet’s first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. The launch, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Central California, also marks a first: It is the first time a spacecraft bound for another planet lifts off from the West Coast – and we are jazzed about that here at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena!
Weather and launch vehicle permitting, InSight can launch any day between May 5 and June 8. InSight is planned for launch at 4:05 am PDT on May 5, and it should be viewable in the dark western sky if the weather is clear – in the southern half of California and even into western Arizona for about 5 minutes after launch. Imagine watching a launch going to Mars from your front yard! You can also watch it live on NASA TV click on here!
Look to the southeast after launch and throughout May, and see InSight’s destination – the planet Mars – shining a steady red color about 1/3 of the way above the horizon. From now through the end of July, Mars will grow steadily brighter as both InSight and Earth move closer to Mars. Mars will appear to be twice as big at the end of July as it did at launch, and by then, it will be visible most of the night for the rest of the summer.
A spacecraft on its way to a nightly bright, shining Mars make a great real-world occasion to focus on a Mars-themed summer or afterschool program this year – and we have the free activities to guide you through. These 19 potential activities are suitable for afterschool and help your youth learn more about Mars, design a mission to explore the planet, and build and test model spacecraft. Read more here!
And you can celebrate with your youth InSight’s landing on Mars on Monday, November 26, 2018!
If you are at BOOST 2018, please come by my workshop in the Mesquite Ballroom B on Thursday, May 3 at 1:15 pm, and participate in our pre-launch party! Participants experience model techniques for training, delivery, and replication in their own settings, to increase youth engagement in STEM and in learning about quakes on Earth and Mars, and Mars travel.
For breakfast this morning, it was Greek yogurt and red strawberries in honor of the Red Planet Mars, decaf coffee, and a glass of water – my traditional nourishing way to start a day!