Facing Mars

Exhibit’s Last Day is September 1

The challenges of a human mission to Mars are as big as any humans have faced. We know that we can get there, but will we be able to survive? How will we solve the many challenges? What will happen when we push our bodies and minds far beyond any place we have been before?

“Facing Mars” is a highly interactive and educational exhibit that will launch visitors’ imaginations into the future of human space exploration. With 28 entertaining and thought-provoking activities, participants will experience the real physical, psychological and scientific challenges involved in journeying to the Red Planet.

This groundbreaking exhibition, developed and designed by the Ontario Science Centre, shows visitors how the challenges of a Mars mission aren’t limited to technology or money. It asks questions associated with traveling to Mars for which there currently are no known answers.

“From the start, our team of scientists and designers set out to create an exhibit focused not solely on what we know, but on what we don’t know – yet.” says Dr. Devon Hamilton, senior scientist and exhibit developer, Ontario Science Centre. “We are showcasing problems with no set solutions, because to get to Mars we have to develop entirely new ways of thinking.”

This exhibition offers 28 interactive stations with three broad themes:

  • On the Surface of Mars: Explore some of the aspects of the technology needed for Mars exploration, from puzzle-solving robotic rovers to testing space gloves, to experimenting with glider designs. Get a flyover view of the Martian landscape; and explore the challenges of living on the surface of Mars from determining a sustainable and healthy menu to the problems posed by dust.
  • Psychological Challenges: How do you select a crew for what may be a lethal adventure? How are crew members affected by crowding and isolation? What role does non-verbal communication play in the emotional health of astronauts?
  • Physical Challenges: Explore the challenges of keeping a crew alive during a long spaceflight, to dealing with the realities of the prolonged microgravity exposure on astronauts’ bones. Design, test and launch a model rocket; examine the puzzle of protecting astronauts from lethal radiation.

“Unlike other space exhibits, ‘Facing Mars’ isn’t just about visiting another planet; it’s about exploring whether humans have the ingenuity to solve the fundamental challenges of the next phase of space travel and exploration,” says Paul Spana, Space Center Houston’s exhibits manager.

7 seconds of terror - Freefall to Mars
Guests climb stairs to a platform about 27 feet above the floor. After putting on a safety harness, guests descend to a padded landing zone, slowed by a self-regulating braking system.

SAFETY GUIDELINES: minimum height  46” tall and weigh 85-250 lbs.

Walking on Mars
Guests walk like an astronaut on the Red Planet by the use of a harness and counterweight system. They will feel a 62% weight drop in 30 seconds!

SAFETY GUIDELINES: minimum height  52” tall and weigh 80-250 lbs
These activities are not recommended for guests who are pregnant, have a heart or heart related conditions, physical ailments, spinal injuries or poor physical condition.


Puffy Face
Guests lay down on platform that slowly inclines for 15 seconds so they see what they might look like as astronauts after being in microgravity—where blood goes to upper part of body.


Spinning Chair
Future astronauts try to solve simple puzzles while spinning to simulate disorientation in space.


Touch Mars
Guests experience a rare encounter with Mars: they are encouraged to touch a meteorite that was blasted off the Red Planet millennia ago.

Download the Family Guide (pdf)