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A Laboratory on Mars: NASA’s Curiosity Rover Will Search for Signs of Life

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This Saturday, November 26, NASA will launch its biggest, most advanced rover yet: the one-ton Curiosity, a mobile laboratory with a two-year mission to find out whether Mars has ever supported life. See a life-sized model of Curiosity in the Museum’s new exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration,then explore how Mars might be transformed into a more hospitable planet with an interactive terraforming table.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, NASA

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”Fly Me to the Moon” Guest Andrew Chaikin on the Moon and the Museum

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With the conclusion of NASA’s shuttle program and the upcoming launch of the latest Mars rover, the future of space exploration is once again a hot topic—and humans’ first steps on the Moon are all the more important to revisit.

On October 25, join Apollo historian Andrew Chaikin and the Museum’s Director of Astrovisualization Carter Emmart for October’s Astronomy Live program, Fly Me to the Moon. The evening begins at 6:30 pm and includes a flight simulation to Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor using the latest data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, along with mapping photographs taken from lunar orbit by the Apollo astronauts 40 years ago.

Chaikin recently answered a few questions about his passion for space exploration.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, NASA, Rose Center for Earth and Space

Astronauts Share Details From Era-Ending Shuttle Mission with Museum Visitors

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Hundreds of visitors gathered in the Museum’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe on Tuesday morning to meet the four astronauts from NASA’s final shuttle mission, Atlantis’s STS-135. Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim made their first New York appearance at the Museum since their return from space on July 21.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, NASA, Rose Center for Earth and Space

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Museum Scientist Will Oversee Sample Analysis For 2016 Mission to Asteroid

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Geologist Harold C. Connolly, a research associate in the Museum’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, will oversee sample analysis on the first U.S. mission to collect material from an asteroid and bring it to Earth for study.

NASA announced the new mission-which is called Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx-in late May as the third mission in its New Frontiers Program. An unmanned spacecraft will be launched in 2016 to the near-Earth asteroid 1999 RQ36 and will travel for four years to its destination. After OSIRIS-REx performs surface mapping of the asteroid—a process that may take up to 505 days—Connolly will be responsible for recommending locations most suitable for sampling.

“We will narrow it down to several choices to select the best location based on low risk to the spacecraft and on chemical signatures” found during surface mapping, says Connolly, who is also professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the City University of New York.

Tags: NASA

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