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  • EXTREME SUMMER HEAT

    Expect high temperatures of 100 to 120 degrees F on your summer visit to Death Valley. Heat related illness is a real possibility. Drink plenty of water and carry extra. Avoid activity in the heat. Travel prepared to survive. Watch for signs of trouble. More »

  • Zabriskie Point Rehab Project Delayed Until Further Notice

    The popular vista site Zabriskie Point will be closed for major repairs over the 2014/2015 winter and spring seasons, but the exact date has not been determined. The site will remain open until further notice.

Death Valley National Park Hosts Second Annual MarsFest

Dr. Susanne Douglas talks about microbial research in the Badwater Basin.
NPS photo/Chris Wonderly

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News Release Date: March 7, 2013

Death Valley, CA--Hundreds of park visitors had an opportunity to hear NASA scientists, go to "Mars Hill", look down into a hydro-magmatic crater, and learn about microbes in the muck at Badwater Basin. The second Mars Festival (MarsFest) in Death Valley National Park hosted presenters from several institutions to deliver programs for mere mortals. Speakers highlighted current research being conducted both in Death Valley and on Mars.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Chris McKay from NASA and the SETI Institute, focused on the prospects of finding organic materials on the red planet, the building blocks of life as we know it. If found, it could provide the basis for determining the habitability of Mars. Dr. McKay also spoke about the knowledge gained from the first 200 days since the Curiosity rover landed there last year.

The annual festival is a partnership between the National Park Service and several NASA centers and NASA-sponsored research arms (the Carl Sagan Center/SETI Institute, Ames Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) to bring scientists and the public together to explore our nation's forays into space.The goal of MarsFest is to raise public awareness about planetary research taking place on Earth as well as celebrate the scientific endeavor of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission.

The extreme environments in Death Valley National Park make it the next best place to Mars itself. For decades, planetary scientists have come to the park to conduct research and instrument testing amidst the sand and rocks here.During the festival, visitors were allowed to operate a mini-rover on the Visitor Center patio, and to learn how the Curiosity can drill holes in rocks-and even change out the drill bit if needed!

For additional photos see www.facebook.com/DeathValleyNP.

-NPS-

Did You Know?

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin, in Death Valley National Park, is the lowest place in North America and one of the lowest places in the world at 282 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea, between Israel and Jordan, is the lowest at 1371 feet below sea level.