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.

“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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