On Wednesday, Oct. 26, we went to the Mars Installation on 77 Varick St., in Manhattan. The experience was hosted by National Geographic in promotion of the six-part television event series called “Mars” that that will be coming to the National Geographic Channel beginning Nov. 14.
When we first got to the Mars dome recruitment center we were treated like celebrities. We were taken into a room to see the replicas of the rovers that are currently used on Mars. We then got to go to the cable robot virtual reality simulator. We sat down and were fitted with virtual reality goggles. The ride started and we felt like we were heading to space in a rocket ship. When we looked at our arms and legs it seemed as if we were in the astronaut suits that the actors wear in the show. As we looked left and right we saw space, the inside of the ship and Mars. It was so cool! It was Lauren, Shane and Matthew’s favorite experience of the day.
Next, we went on a Martian surface walk via the Alter G antigravity treadmill. This was Shea’s favorite part of the day. We had to put on a pantsuit and get zipped into a bubble surrounding the treadmill. The bubble filled with air and it brought the gravity level down to 38 percent. It was as if we were weightless. This was also virtual and we had glasses on which made it look like we were walking on a cliff on Mars and when we looked behind us there were more hills and looking down at our feet we were walking on rocks.
In addition to the virtual reality experience we got to interview three of the actors of the show who play Ben Cotton (who stars as Ben Sojer), Jihae (Hana) and Clémentine Poidatz (Amelie). They were all really nice and Clementine gave us her autograph. After those interviews were done we also talked to Mae Jemison, who really was an astronaut! She went into space Sept. 12-20, 1992.
What made the day even more exciting was we were the first kids to experience the Mars installation and travel into the future of 2033 — even before it was open to the public! It was really awesome and we would definitely do the experience again! Hurry and go to the Mars virtual experience as it will only be around until Saturday, Oct. 29. You can find out more information at these websites: channel.nationalgeographic.com/mars/ and makemarshome.com