Exhibit Areas and Components

Panoramic View.
Large image of the Pathfinder landing site on a curved panel with a global locator graphic.

Welcome to Mars!
Colorful graphics and two hands-on components convey basic information about the Red Planet. Visitors examine photos of Mars and Earth and guess if the photo is of Earth or Mars. They find out if they’re right or wrong. Telling the two places apart is not that easy. Visitors can lift two identical soda cans that have different weights, demonstrating the differences in gravity on the two planets.

Mars Weather Station: What's the Forecast?
Of all the planets in our solar system, Mars is the most like Earth. Mars has a 24-hour day, seasons, dust storms, polar ice caps, volcanoes, and lots of craters. But Mars is also quite different. Its dust storms can engulf the whole planet. Its seasons are twice as long as Earth’s.
It is important for scientists to understand the weather on Mars because weather conditions can affect how high spacecraft orbit above the planet and where rovers can land on the surface. Travelers, even those going to Mars, need to know what weather conditions to expect. They find out by experimenting with a dust devil and comparing weather on Earth to Mars on a computer station.
Mars Lander Kiosk.
This fanciful kiosk resembles a spacecraft that has just landed on the surface of Mars. It contains four interactive components, including one that holds a fragment of a Mars meteorite. A thin slice of the Zagami meteorite - an actual rock from Mars - is on display under a microscope with a polarizing light source that reveals its crystalline structure. An audio component tells them the story of the rock's extraordinary journey from Mars to Earth. Nearby graphics panels describe how scientists are searching for life on Mars and whether Mars rocks can give us clues.

The other components include Virtual Planets where visitors take a virtual tour of some of the main features of Mars, and then switch to an Earth globe to compare the Mars features to similar sites on Earth. The Volcano interactive consists of air that moves through very tiny glass beads to simulate how magma moves through a planet's mantle and crust during a volcanic eruption. Visitors can adjust the air flow to create their own eruptions. A model of Olympus Mons on Mars, the largest volcano in the solar system, is beside a model of the Hawaiian Islands, a chain of active and extinct shield volcanoes. The models are to scale so that visitors can see and feel how much larger Olympus Mons is when compared to a similar type of volcano on Earth.

Mars Exploration Rover.
This is a 1/3 scale model (on loan from JPL) of one of the twin Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) that NASA will launch in 2003 with an expected arrival date of early 2004. A computer station is attached where visitors can try their skill in driving a virtual rover, witness an incredible