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Aspiring Astronauts Can Experience Mars

Aspiring Astronauts Can Experience Mars

As part of a promotion for National Geographic Channel's MARS series, New Yorkers can experience what it's like to be on the Red Planet at the pop-up exhibit, Experience Mars.

Visitors to the new National Geographic Experience Mars installation in Lower Manhattan will be transported to the year 2033, as interplanetary explorers attempt to reach and colonize the Red Planet.

The free, public exhibit is housed in large white domes, each representing a different part of the journey across space. Visitors can see if they have what it takes to complete the mission with interactive and immersive features that put them in the role of the astronaut.

In the largest dome, potential Mars “recruits” can take part in a flight on the cable robot virtual reality (VR) simulator. A VR headset mimics the view of the inside of a spaceship as it lands on Mars, while the two-seater simulator moves to match what the user is seeing. Visitors have to meet the 48-inch height requirement to use the flight simulator.

mars spaceship simulator

Visitors experience traveling to and landing on Mars with the cable robot virtual reality simulator.

To experience what walking on Mars feels like, guests can take a spin on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, which uses NASA-based technology to simulate an authentic surface walk in 38-percent gravity. The accompanying VR headset shows a 360-degree view of the planet as you walk. A minimum weight of 80 pounds is required to use the anti-gravity treadmill.

AlterG treadmill and virtual reality Mars simulator

A visitor walks on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill while a virtual reality headset transports her to the surface of Mars. 

Computer games test astronaut aptitude with mission control rocket landing and surface rover mission simulations. Visitors can also feel how difficult it is to complete simple tasks such as putting a bolt back into place in an interactive exhibit that mimics the atmospheric pressure of Mars. 

Scale models of authentic NASA Curiosity, Sojourner, Spirit, and Opportunity Mars rovers are also on display, along with information about them and the planet they explored.

spirit mars rover scale model

A scale model of authentic NASA Spirit Mars rover

Guests can receive their own custom cardboard VR viewer, so they can continue the fun at home with their smartphones.

The temporary exhibit is part of a promotion for National Geographic Channel’s MARS series, which premieres Nov. 14. The six-part series combines a scripted show about astronauts colonizing Mars with interviews with present-day visionaries such as Elon Musk and Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Located at the corner of Varick and Canal streets, the pop-up is open to the public through Saturday, Oct. 29 from 12-7pm. 

space suit from MARS on Nat Geo

One of the spacesuits from National Geographic’s MARS series 

Main image: The temporary pop-up National Geographic Experience Mars installation in New York City
All photos by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for National Geographic Channel

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Kathryn Sheridan

Author: Kathryn Sheridan is a journalism student at Pace University and a former NYMetroParents editorial intern. She can be found wearing black, drinking coffee, and pretending to be Nancy Drew. See More

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