COC’s Spring Star Party slated for Friday

Press release

News release  

The College of the Canyons Spring 2022 Star Party, which will be held on Friday, promises to be an educational and inspiring evening under the night sky with John Callas, manager of NN-Explore and former manager of the Mars Exploration Rover Project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

Callas will present “The Robotic Exploration of the Surface of Mars,” a 45-minute presentation that will provide an overview of NASA’s sustained exploration of MARS dating back to 2004. 

“We are very excited to welcome the community to our Spring Star Party to learn more about Mars Rover exploration from John Callas,” said Ryan Theule, vice president of the Canyon Country campus. “This family-friendly event has become a community favorite over the years and we are glad to be able to host it in-person once again.” 

The first rovers of NASA’s sustained exploration of Mars, Spirit and Opportunity, made significant discoveries in understanding the Red Planet, finding evidence of past habitable environments that could possibly have supported life. More recently, Curiosity, a larger, more capable rover, has extended the exploration to a third location on Mars — Gale Crater — and is advancing the current phase of exploration with the ability to search for the chemical building blocks of life, organic molecules, moving closer to answering the questions about extinct or extent life on Mars.   

NASA recently landed the next rover mission, Mars 2020 Perseverance rover — along with the Ingenuity helicopter — to explore, collect and cache samples for eventual return to Earth. The return of those samples will be a major step forward in our understanding and exploration of Mars. 

The Star Party will feature the opportunity for participants to observe through telescopes with the help of local community astronomy clubs. The evening will also include science updates by COC faculty and students, such as the COC Aerospace and Sciences Team, as well as activity tables and demonstrations.  

The College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus will host its spring 2022 Star Party, a part of their Science Talks series, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the upper plaza adjacent to the new Don Takeda Science Center.  

The event is free and open to the public.  

For more information about this in-person event, visit the Canyon Country campus webpage at 

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