ARCS members and guests had an “out-of-this-world” experience when they toured the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) during the AMC. The highlight for many was two NASM Docents—Mark Jones and Elli Nesbitt (ARCS Metro Washington Chapter)—giving tours of some of NASM’s iconic space artifacts. Among them is a replica of Sputnik – the Soviet satellite that was the first of its kind and greatly escalated the space race between the Americans and Russians. When launched in 1957, Sputnik created a mild panic in America. For American freedom and well-being, we could not allow any country to surpass us in scientific accomplishments. In 1958 a group of bright and visionary women in Los Angeles banded together to meet the challenge. This group created a unique partnership between science and society: ARCS Foundation.
NASM staff members Ms. Kelly Bloom (Office of Advancement) and Dr. John Grant (Geologist, Center for Earth and Planetary Studies) led off the tour with two multimedia presentations. Ms. Bloom described the upcoming revitalization of the museum’s National Mall Building that will start this fall and go through 2024.
Dr. Grant spoke about several U.S. rovers on Mars, including Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity, noting that whereas “the primary objective of the Spirit and Opportunity missions was to constrain the role of water in shaping the local landing sites, the primary objective of the Curiosity mission was to look for evidence of whether the surface was once habitable.” Dr. Grant then accompanied the attendees to a gallery with models of the rovers and discussed them in more detail.
The tours of the museum as well as visits to the National Geographic Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of American History and the International Spy Museum were among the highlights of the AMC, sending participants home with important hands-on knowledge.