Amy Johnson
Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.
RELEASE : 11-041
NASA Brings the Stars to Students in North Carolina for Astronomy Days
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Students and visitors at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences this weekend will get the full "NASA Experience" complete with a life-size replica of a Mars Rover and a visit by former astronaut Jose Hernandez.

This year's event is being held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 21; and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 22.

For more information about NASA's Summer of Innovation program, visit:

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For more information about Astronomy Days, visit:

NASA Langley Research Center has partnered with the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and the Raleigh Astronomy Club to bring two days of free, interactive exhibits and educational stations to the Museum. All four floors will transform into a world of "planetary exploration," which is the theme of this year's event.

In addition to the Mars Rover replica, provided by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., visitors will also get to make comets out of dry ice, make rockets, take imaginary trips to Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury and the moon, as well as see the GeoDome, which projects clear, high-definition images and movies that create a virtual space experience.

Former astronaut Jose Hernandez, whose parents were migrant workers, will give a talk entitled "An Astronaut's Journey Through the Stars." Hernandez will give a special presentation to a group of 100 children of migrant workers, encouraging them to set their goals high and reach for the stars, at 10 a.m. May 21. Hernandez was a part of the STS-128 space shuttle mission to the International Space Station in 2009 and recorded 13 days, 20 hours and 54 minutes in space.

Univision Communications Inc., the largest Spanish-language network in the country, will cover Hernandez's interaction with the students for a segment to be used as part of a program about NASA's Summer of Innovation. The segment will air Monday, May 23, on the show "Despierta America," Univision's national morning show.

NASA's Summer of Innovation began in 2010 as a response to a national need for improvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, education. This NASA project is designed to improve the skills and enhance the engagement of American students in STEM.

Media who want would like to cover the event should contact Emelia Cowans with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences at 919-733-7450, ext. 305.

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