In this artist's concept, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover examines a rock on Mars with a set of tools at the end of the rover's arm, which extends about seven feet. The rover is designed to investigate Mars' past or present ability to sustain microbial life. (NASA / JPL) › View Larger Image
PALMDALE, Calif. - Three days before the highly anticipated landing of NASA's "Curiosity" rover on Mars, NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center will host a Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) exhibit Aug. 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the AERO Institute in the Palmdale Civic Center.
The event is in conjunction with the City of Palmdale's weekly Thursday Nights on the Square festival in Poncitlan Square adjacent to City Hall.
Dryden's MSL event will highlight the scheduled Mars landing of Curiosity on the evening of Aug. 5. Dr. Kelly Fast, Mars program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., will give three 20-minute-long presentations on the MSL landing and science mission at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.
Along with the presentations, MSL rover hardware and graphics will be on display, along with educational materials about the mission.
NASA Dryden has directly supported NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's MSL mission preparations the past three years by test flying the MSL's landing radar on one of the center's F/A-18 aircraft and aboard a helicopter.
The F/A-18 flights focused on the on-chute acquisition portion of the MSL's entry into the Martian atmosphere, when the spacecraft is suspended from its parachute.
Previous helicopter flight tests of the radar at NASA Dryden focused on the rocket-powered descent portion of the MSL flight profile, during which the radar will be looking for a clear area to land the rover. The helicopter dangled a Curiosity-mimicking aluminum structure underneath it during those tests.
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