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State Historical Society to host Smithsonian Sunday Program on Jan. 11

The Museum of the South Dakota State Historical Society will host a special webcast of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum program entitled, “NASA's Flying Saucer: Learning to Land on Mars” at 2 p.m. CST on Sunday, Jan. 11, at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

The program, in the Cultural Heritage Center’s education room, is offered in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum and the Smithsonian Affiliations program.

In this “What’s New in Aerospace?” program, Ian Clark, principal investigator for the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator project at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, discusses the Mars Science Laboratory landing and describes the process and technologies used to land the Curiosity Rover on Mars. He provides historical context for the development of those technologies and talks about the need for improvements as we move to larger and larger payloads, and then briefly introduces the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator technology and discusses tests that are being conducted to mature the technologies.

“This is a fascinating program,” commented Jay Smith, museum director for the State Historical Society. “We feature experimental balloon technology that took place in South Dakota in our 20th Century section of ‘The South Dakota Experience,’ so it is very interesting to see NASA’s 21st century technology in that context.”

There is no fee to view the program, but standard admission fees apply for visitors wanting to go into the museum galleries. The program was originally broadcast Nov. 5 in the Smithsonian’s “Moving Beyond Earth” gallery as part of the “What’s New in Aerospace?” programming.

The State Historical Society became a Smithsonian Affiliate in January 2013, and it is the only affiliate in South Dakota. Since 2013, the museum has hosted a “Smithsonian Sunday” program on the second Sunday of each month.

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