Simulation takes kids on a trip across Mars

WASHINGTON – A new attraction will give kids a brief taste of life on another planet.

The Mars Experience at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center will debut as part of the Virginia location’s “Air & Scare” Halloween event Saturday.

The simulation will take kids onto a school bus that has video screens in place of windows, which can show a panoramic view of the Mars landscape. The trip across the Martian surface begins with views of rocky formations and open expanses, before one of the planet’s windstorms blocks the view by kicking up dust.

Students and chaperones from Virginia's Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team watch as they seem to travel across the surface of the planet Mars, seated in the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience bus at the the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Oct. 19, 2018. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space photo by Daniel Soñé)
Students and chaperones from Virginia’s Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team watch as they seem to travel across the surface of the planet Mars, seated in the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience bus at the the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Oct. 19, 2018. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space photo by Daniel Soñé) (Air and Space/Daniel Soñé)
Amos Kear, 9, left, and Nate Wilson, 8, look at the surface of the planet Mars, seated in the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience bus. The boys and their classmates from Virginia's Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team were the first group of local students to visit the bus at the the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018, following a ceremony in which Lockheed Martin transferred the bus to Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space photo by Daniel Soñé)
Amos Kear, 9, left, and Nate Wilson, 8, look at the surface of the planet Mars, seated in the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience bus. The boys and their classmates from Virginia’s Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team were the first group of local students to visit the bus at the the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018, following a ceremony in which Lockheed Martin transferred the bus to Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space photo by Daniel Soñé) (Air and Space Museum/Daniel Soñé)
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum accepted the donation of the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus in a morning ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Photo by Daniel Soñé)
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum accepted the donation of the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus in a morning ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Photo by Daniel Soñé) (Air and Space Museum/Daniel Soñé)
Students from the Manassas, Virginia's Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team were the first ones to board the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus after a morning ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018. Lockheed Martin donated the bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, which provide visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space Museum/Daniel Soñé)
Students from the Manassas, Virginia’s Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team were the first ones to board the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus after a morning ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018. Lockheed Martin donated the bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, which provide visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space Museum/Daniel Soñé) (Air and Space Museum/Daniel Soñé)
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Students and chaperones from Virginia's Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team watch as they seem to travel across the surface of the planet Mars, seated in the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience bus at the the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Oct. 19, 2018. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space photo by Daniel Soñé)
Amos Kear, 9, left, and Nate Wilson, 8, look at the surface of the planet Mars, seated in the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience bus. The boys and their classmates from Virginia's Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team were the first group of local students to visit the bus at the the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018, following a ceremony in which Lockheed Martin transferred the bus to Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space photo by Daniel Soñé)
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum accepted the donation of the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus in a morning ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018. The bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, provides visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Photo by Daniel Soñé)
Students from the Manassas, Virginia's Loch Lomond Elementary School robotics team were the first ones to board the Lockheed Martin Mars Experience Bus after a morning ceremony at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, Oct. 19, 2018. Lockheed Martin donated the bus, fitted with high-definition monitors on the windows, which provide visitors an opportunity to experience the Martian surface. (Air and Space Museum/Daniel Soñé)

“In all likelihood, Mars will be the next celestial body that humans will walk on,” said the museum’s chief curator, Peter Jakab. “The first person who will walk on Mars is probably in school right now, and maybe it’ll be one of the children that goes on the Mars bus and gets inspired.”

The Mars Experience will be open on weekends at the Udvar-Hazy Center. There are plans to make it mobile and bring it to area schools by the end of the school year. While young children are the target audience, adults are allowed in — as long as they’re willing to cram into kid-sized seats.


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