SALT LAKE CITY -- Curiosity will steal the stage Sunday, Aug. 5, in a move that has nothing to do with cats.
Curiosity, a robotic rover that's been traveling to Mars since last November, is set to touch down on the Red Planet that day, and Utah residents can watch what happens at two rover landing parties.
Live satellite feed will be aired during a 9:30 p.m. gathering in Room 1100 of the Language and Communications Building on the University of Utah campus, 255 Central Campus Drive. Admission is free.
Folks can see a replica rover, try out making their own landings in computer simulators, and look at telescopic views of Mars and Saturn before the action begins. The actual landing should take place about 11:30 p.m., and coverage will continue until the early hours of Aug. 6.
Scientists should know soon after touchdown how the landing went, but there is no way to know for certain when Curiosity's first pictures will come in -- be it a few minutes, or a few hours, according to a news release on the event, sponsored by the University of Utah's physics and astronomy department, the Salt Lake Astronomical Society and the NASA Solar System Ambassador program.
Another party featuring NASA video clips of the landing and various hands-on activities takes place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6, at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Research Park, 301 Wakara Way.
Admission to the museum is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, $6 for children and free for ages 2 and younger.
Curiosity -- officially known as the Mars Science Laboratory -- is outfitted with instruments to look into the rocks and soil of Mars for signs of life.
For more information about the Aug. 5 party, call 435-882-1209. To find out more about the museum party, call 801-585-6369.