Interactions - SPS Chapters in Action
Colleen H. Fava, Manager, Louisiana Space Grant Consortium at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge
The Mobile Astronomy Resource System (MARS), recently refurbished after a hiatus of several years, is a light commercial box truck containing computer-controlled telescopes, a digital portable planetarium, and other equipment for providing astronomy learning experiences to audiences at remote sites. Operated by the Louisiana Space Grant Consortium (LaSPACE) in partnership with the Louisiana State University (LSU) Gordon A. Cain Center, the Highland Road Park Observatory, and the LSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, its main objective is to reach people with limited or no access to fixed-site science centers.
Since the LSU SPS chapter already makes community outreach and K–12 informal education a major part of its mission, partnering with them to get the MARS Truck back in action was a natural fit. The truck has already been used for two outreach events this year staffed by LaSPACE and members of the LSU SPS chapter: a Family Science Night at Scotlandville Middle Magnet School and the Louisiana Earth Day festival in downtown Baton Rouge. Activities included telescope sky viewing and science demonstrations. LSU SPS students now have access to more resources and equipment, and the LaSPACE and Cain Center team have significantly increased their bench for staffing outreach events. //