Join us for MarsFest, March 10 - 12, 2017

The fifth Annual MarsFest in Death Valley: Linking Extremes of Earth and Space

We are excited to announce the Fifth annual MarsFest in Death Valley National Park, on March 10th, 11th, and 12th, 2017!

Registration is FREE! - NOW

There are very few places in the world where the extreme environments of our planet can offer a look into what may be possible in our Solar System and beyond.

Death Valley National Park hosts several planetary analog research sites within its rugged and otherworldly terrain and plays an important role in contributing to the scientific community preparing for the robotic and the human exploration of Mars. We are truly excited to share this little known, but extremely important, use of our public land.

Death Valley 2016Icebreaker Lander to seek life hiding beneath the frozen surface of Mars. The demonstration was held at the Park Ranger HQ  (Photo Credit: SETI Institute)

The SETI Institute, Death Valley Natural History Association, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), and Death Valley National Park Service are proud to collaborate this year to again to craft a new MarsFest event! 

The goal of MarsFest is to offer the public the opportunity to learn more about our planet and the Solar System, and how that knowledge helps us plan for the robotic and human exploration beyond Earth and associated missions in space such as MSL and the upcoming Mars 2020 Missions.

Visitors of all ages are invited to MarsFest 2017. The festival will be opened by a keynote speaker Penny Boston (Nasa Astrobiology Institute) and will feature panels and scientist-led field trips to analog sites such as Badwater Basin, Ubehebe Volcanic Field, and Mesquite Sand Dunes Flat, as well as guest lectures and special presentations at the Park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center. 

Field trip to Mars Hill in 2016. This year we will visit a similar location a few miles away. (Photo Credit: Rosalba Bonaccorsi) 

Saturday and Sunday, the Park will host an Exposition including family-friendly and hands-on activities - such as mini-rover and NASA payload demonstrations - led by scientists from several research organizations and universities.  Telescopes might be available for night sky viewing at some locations. The event will include a "Curiosity Hour" update, featuring scientists participating in the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover mission, followed by a Q&A session, and a panel conversation on the future of human exploration and the search for life in the Solar System.

SETI Insitute's renowned scientist Jill Tarter giving the keynote speech on Friday night in 2016. (Photo Credit: Rosalba Bonaccorsi)

The first three MarsFest weekends, held in 2012, 2013, and 2014, as well as the MarsFest Symposium, in 2016, were extraordinarily successful thanks to the dedication of Park personnel, the SETI Institute, and NASA Centers, with key support from the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) Education and Public Outreach Team. The events were also so well received by participating scientists, park staff, and the general public that they have set the stage for MarsFest 2017.

In addition to NASA, support for the festival comes from several senior and junior scientists, students, education and outreach professionals, astronomy club members, and planetary science enthusiasts (e.g., The Mars Society and The Planetary Society), who volunteer to share their time, resources, and knowledge with visitors.

Alfonso Davila sharing his passion for Mars with curious park's visitors. (Photo Credit Linda Slater, NPS)

In 2016, the MarsFest Symposium, as part of the National Park Service Celestial Centennial, hosted activities that drew in over 2,500+ visitors during the first 2 days. More than 45 volunteers from the Bay Area and Southern California were involved to operate booths and lead public events.

SETI Institute’s President Bill Diamond, together with Park’s Superintendent Mike Reynolds, opened the event. NASA Ames scientists Carol Stoker and David Willson gave demonstrations of the Mars Icebreaker payload. In the evening, Margaret Race (SETI Institute), Alfonso Davila (SETI Institute), and Brian Day (NASA SSERVI) contributed to a panel on the protection of National Parks, analog sites, and other celestial bodies during robotic and human exploration.

- Click images to see the Large photos 

2016 Marsfest was sponsored by:

- The NASA Astrobiology Institute

- Farabee's  Jeep Rental supported our fieltrips during the event

Photo credit: Carol Stocker

 

MarsFest 2017 Organizing Committee:

David Blacker, Death Valley Natural History Association

Rosalba Bonaccorsi, SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center/NASA Ames Research Center

Lora Bleacher, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Andrea Jones, Planetary Science Institute/ NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

MarsFest 2016 Photos Gallery:

 
 Photos credit: Bill Diamond, Rosalba Bonaccorsi and Linda Slater