Israel Space Week Takes Off with Focus on Future Mars Mission

Israel celebrated its developments in the field of space exploration with a focus on the Red Planet.

Israel Space Week kicked off Sunday with dozens of activities across the country, including this year’s focus on the planet Mars.

Space Week’s activities include simulated missions to Mars, exhibits on developments in the field of space exploration, observations, workshops for building model spaceships, planetarium viewings, astronaut encounters and more.

The initiative is held to commemorate the legacy of Ilan Ramon, Israel’s first astronaut, who was killed in the Columbia space shuttle explosion in February 2003.

In the main complex of the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, guests can attempt a series of challenging space missions that demonstrate what life would be like on Mars and the challenges future colonizers of the Red Planet will face. Activities include fixing a space rover that is about to be sent to Mars, farming fruits and vegetables on Mars, and a zero gravity simulation. The museum is also hosting an exhibit on Israeli developments in the field of space exploration.

Israeli Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Kunis called Space Week “an opportunity to make space accessible to the Israeli public as far as possible and close to home. Israel Space Week takes this complicated field and translates it into an enjoyable experience. The week is also an opportunity to salute the late Ilan Ramon, a pioneering man, a role model and a source of Israeli pride.”

Among those set to attend Israel Space Week are NASA astronaut and former teacher Richard R. Arnold; former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman, the first Jew to visit the International Space Station, and a friend of Ramon’s; NASA astronaut Don Thomas; and French astronaut Jean-Jacques Favier, who now works at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission.