It’s not every day that you get to talk Mars exploration with one of the world’s top planetary scientists. It’s even more unusual when said discussion takes place while the scent of pepperoni wafts through the air.
But Tucsonans are lucky. The University of Arizona, which is running the Phoenix Mars Lander mission, is doing a great job at reaching out to involve and interest the community in the unmanned spacecraft’s 423-million-mile journey to hunt for water on the red planet.
That outreach effort continues Monday when UA Professor William Boynton, one of the mission’s key investigators, takes part in a “science cafe” at a downtown pizzeria.
The free event is sponsored by the UA Flandrau Science Center and will start at 5:30 p.m. at Enoteca Pizzeria Wine Bar, 58 W. Congress St. Science cafes, which first sprang up in the United Kingdom, are a way for people to talk science in an unstuffy setting.
The talk and Q&A with Boynton are merely the latest attempt by UA to make the nine-month mission as people-friendly as possible.
UA has held a “Cinco de Mars” open house, featuring a full-scale model of the spacecraft. And when the Lander touches down next May, two students and one teacher from Vail’s Empire High School will work with UA scientists on research projects.
UA should be commended for helping Tucsonans get their fill of Mars.