The whole world will be watching as the rover Curiosity touches down on Mars late Sunday, Pacific Standard Time. But the event will be a real celebration for the engineers, scientists and staff at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who have worked on the mission for years.
Hundreds of JPL workers, their families and invited guests will be hanging out near JPL's Mission Control center at 10:31 p.m., the time engineers expect to know whether Curiosity landed successfully. Thousands more are expected to watch a live feed of the landing at a private event at Caltech. But regular folks and space geeks have several options for viewing the most exciting Mars event on Earth this year:
Planetfest: This two-day event sponsored by the Pasadena-based Planetary Society includes a space-themed party on Saturday night, a tribute to Ray Bradbury, and panel discussions featuring Bill Nye "the Science Guy," former NASA "Mars czar" Scott Hubbard, and Planetary Society co-founder Louis Friedman. Science activities are planned for children, including an opportunity to build a Martian sundial.
300 E. Green St., Pasadena. One-day entry is $19 to $37, weekend passes are $56 to $67. Children under 8 enter free. Aug. 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Aug.5 from 2 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.planetfest.org.
Griffith Observatory: JPL scientist Adrian Ponce will be on hand to answer questions about the mission hours before Curiosity's scheduled landing. Griffith Observatory curators will join Ponce in presenting NASA's live feed. The observatory expects a large crowd.
2800 East Observatory Rd., Los Angeles. Free. 9 p.m. to midnight.
Null Space Labs: This downtown Los Angeles hackerspace, or community area for science and technology devotees, offers a simple viewing space for people who want to watch the live feed without any extravagances. It's open to the public, but space is limited.
1015 South Main St., Los Angeles. Free. 2 p.m. to midnight. For more information, visit http://032.la.
Columbia Memorial Space Center: The space learning center, which doubles as a memorial for the seven crew members lost on board the Columbia space shuttle in 2003, will stream the live feed on a 15-foot wall. Telescopes will be available for those in the mood to stargaze.
12400 Columbia Way, Downey. Entry fee is $5. 9:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Home: NASA will broadcast live coverage of the landing starting at 8:30 p.m. with commentary, available through NASA's public television channel or online. Visit www.nasa.gov for information about watching the landing online.
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