by Jim Nintzel
On Sunday night, NASA's latest robotic science lab, Curiosity, is scheduled to land inside Gale Crater. The wheeled buggy will build on discoveries from the Phoenix Mars Lander, which was run by the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab.
The UA has a smaller role with Curiosity, but local space science junkies will gather at Sky Bar, 536 N. Fourth Ave., to watch the touchdown. You can learn all about the mission here.
TW contributor Eric Swedlund sends the following bulletin:
Join your fellow Mars enthusiasts at Sky Bar on Sunday, Aug. 5 to view the historic landing of NASA’s most advanced planetary rover.
Sky Bar will broadcast the live feed from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the bar’s three new high-definition Vivitek projectors and huge 120-inch screens. The festivities begin at 8:30 p.m., with the spacecraft’s entry, descent and landing scheduled to begin at 10:31 p.m.
The Mars Science Laboratory will carry instruments to analyze soil samples, rocks and the planet’s atmosphere. The ultimate goal is a further exploration of whether conditions on Mars could ever have sustained life.
The $2.5 billion MSL follows the successful mission of the University of Arizona’s Mars Phoenix Lander, NASA’s first exploratory mission led by a public university. Groundbreaking data returned from the 2008 lander suggested that liquid water has interacted with the Martian surface throughout the Red Planet’s history and into modern times.
Just as Sky Bar has done with equinox and solstice events, meteor showers and eclipses, the Mars Landing Party will combine entertainment and education. Drink specials will include extending Happy Hour throughout the entire night.
Celebrating Tucson’s longstanding position as Astronomy Capital of the World, Sky Bar is the country’s only 100 percent solar-powered bar. Since its opening at 536 N. Fourth Ave. in November 2009, Sky Bar has shared its three telescopes with star lovers and novices alike. Viewing takes place nightly and a gallery of astrophotography from the bar’s own staff astronomers regularly displays on the projection screens.