A full-scale model of NASA’s Mars Rover “Opportunity,” built by Cornell University students, has been on display at the American Center in Chennai.
U.S. Consul General Chennai Judith Ravin (front left) and U.S. Fulbright-Nehru Scholar to India Venkateswaran Narayanaswamy (front right) at the launch of the exhibit of a full-scale Mars Rover model in Chennai. (Photograph courtesy U.S. Consulate General Chennai)
In December 2022, U.S. Consul General Chennai Judith Ravin launched an exhibit of a full-scale model of NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Mars Rover “Opportunity” at the American Center.
Built by Cornell University students, the full-scale model was previously on display at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. and at the U.S. Pavilion during the 2020 World Expo in Dubai. The temporary interactive exhibit, which was open through January 2023, featured activities built around the Mars Rover and space exploration.
NASA’s Opportunity was launched in 2003 and landed on Mars in 2004 with the goal of searching for evidence that water once existed on the planet’s surface. The Opportunity made several key discoveries during its mission, including evidence of the previous existence of water on Mars and conditions at that time could have been suitable for sustaining microbial life. The rover explored the Martian terrain for almost 15 years, far outlasting her planned 90-day mission.
“In 1970—52 years ago—here in Chennai people were talking about moon rocks and lunar exploration and hoping to inspire young generations of Indians to understand more about the moon-earth system…” Consul General Judith Ravin said. “Today, you are here to see the Mars Rover, renowned for its planetary exploration… The technologies developed in support of space exploration have real-world applications that affect all of us, from advancements in telecommunications and satellite navigation to agricultural monitoring and weather forecasting.”
The Consul General added: “Our U.S. and Indian scientists and engineers have an opportunity to work together to change the world… We hope that the ties between our two countries in the space sector, including between NASA and ISRO, will continue to expand with future missions to Mars and beyond.”