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NASA Gets Wired at NextFest
A fleet of futuristic NASA exhibits is descending on Chicago June 24. It's all part of Wired Magazine's NextFest at Navy Pier Festival Hall.

Inspired by the early World's Fair, Wired NextFest will take guests into the future for three days to see what tomorrow's technology has to offer. More than 100 exhibits will highlight innovations in exploration, transportation, communication, design, entertainment, health and security.

Pictured is one of NASA's human-like robots called Robonauts. Image left: NextFest attendees will see a model of this space robot, named Robonaut, in the Exploration Pavilion. Credit: NASA

On Saturday, NASA's Chief Scientist Dr. James B. Garvin will talk about the future of space exploration and explain what we can learn by exploring the world around us. NASA also will give attendees a close-up look at the future of space exploration and flight with several interactive exhibits in the Exploration and Transportation Pavilions.

"It's a great opportunity to see what NASA's doing and talk to us about our plans for the future," said NASA Outreach Officer Nora Normandy. "We'll talk about the Vision for Space Exploration and how we plan to go to the Moon, Mars and beyond."

In the Exploration Pavilion, NextFest patrons will find a model of Robonaut, the robot that one day will work side by side with humans in space. They can also see models of futuristic spacecraft with new sources of energy, such as solar sails. A clean and energy-efficient propulsion system, solar sails will allow spacecraft to sail through space using photons the way sailboats use the wind to glide over water.

NASA also is showcasing a host of Mars exhibits, including the Ares Mars airplane, a prototype Mars spacesuit and a full-size model of the Exploration Rovers still returning captivating images from Mars.

Other NASA exhibits will include satellite and space telescope images, an interactive small exploration robot demonstration, and a model of Cassini, the spacecraft that is revealing the secrets of Saturn's moons and rings. Guests can even take their own pictures in a mock spacesuit.

Picture of Mars Exploration Rover Image right: A full-scale model of this Mars Exploration Rover is just one of the many NASA innovations to be displayed at NextFest. Credit: NASA.

In the Transportation Pavilion, the Agency's exhibits will include a model of a High-Altitude, Long-Endurance airplane and the popular, interactive Edgarville Airport. Consisting of three plasma screens and a touch-screen navigation display, Edgarville allows users to move around an airport and interact with animated characters. It's a fun way to learn how NASA is making air travel safer, cleaner and more efficient.

Attendance on Friday is limited to students, nonprofits and the press. On Saturday and Sunday, the event is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets and more information are available online at or by calling (800) 965-4827.

Jan Wittry (SGT, Inc.)
NASA's Glenn Research Center