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Local Kids Explore Mars, Sort Of…

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Las Vegas CBS KXNT-  What would be necessary to sustain human life on Mars?   Local kids were invited to contemplate the problem as they built model Martian homes equipped for earthling expeditions to the planet, where average daily temperatures are negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit, and there was once, perhaps, a compound resembling water.

The Martian habitat exercise was one of four with a space theme at the National Atomic Testing Museum this weekend, designed to induce students to think about science through an imaginary exploration of Mars. Tubs of red “Martian” soil were available as a barren location for the completed structures. The vessels also became attractive sandboxes for toddler-aged siblings, who bulldozed the red dirt with styrofoam cups, or bare hands if necessary.

The museum holds Family Fun Day twice yearly, said Education Director Brandon Van Niekerk, who was expecting about a hundred participants on Saturday.  The event is promoted through the school district, and some teachers may offer extra credit.

The space theme has a link to the museum’s primary mission, because the exercises discuss radiation in space, Van Niekerk told KXNT.

The kids also operated the nuclear-powered Mars Curiosity Rover in the same fashion as NASA technicians — through a computer control panel.  Using a NASA app, they were able to view the moving parts of the robotic vehicle, drive a replica, and collect virtual Martian soil samples.

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