Tartu Christmas City will include a Mars rover's test base

Starting from this Sunday, everyone can explore the Mars Rover's Test Base at the Town Hall Square in Tartu. The test base is located in a glass pavilion and in it, a miniature rover will be driving on a surface that mimics the one of the red planet. The test base will bring Mars closer to people as it might be the second planet in our Solar System that human will set foot on.

Humans going to Mars has been a fascinating topic for a long time. To make this dream come true in ten or twenty years, we must get to know the red planet as well as possible. The development of technology has made it possible to investigate Mars closer and more precisely than ever, and currently scientists all over the world – including Tartu and Tõravere – are looking for forms or signs of life with satellites and rovers.

Head of Tartu Observatory's Visitor Centre Heli Lätt said that exploring Mars makes us think about the meaning of life. "It is exceptional that our home planet has conditions that have enabled life to form and let us live here now. Studying Mars helps us to understand the formation and evolution of life here on Earth, too."

The Mars Rover's Test Base is part of Christmas City Tartu. Videos of Mars can also be seen in the rover's glass pavilion. In another glass pavilion dedicated to animated movies, children can root for Paxi the space explorer on its adventures. Everyone interested in constellations will be able to enjoy the starry sky on the ceiling of the movie pavilion.

As part of the Christmas Space Programme, Tartu Observatory also invites everyone to workshops on December 2, 9 and 16 from 6 to 8 PM. The workshops entail learning to know the sky, crafting Christmas ornaments of cosmic objects, and participating in an orienteering game.

The Mars Rover's Test Base is created in cooperation of Tartu Observatory, City of Tartu, Salibar and Reginett.

Additional information: Heli Lätt, Head of Tartu Observatory's Visitor Centre, heli.latt@ut.ee, 5695 9711