In what NASA says could be the start of the most important mission in the history of planetary exploration, the Mars rover Curiousity is set to land on the red planet Sunday evening at around 10:18 p.m. The robot's assignment: To determine whether microbes ever existed there or if Mars could even support such life.
Adding to the drama is that the Curiousity rover will land on Mars in a way that's never been attempted before -- being lowered by a rocket-powered sky crane. (See the accompanying photos and video.)
Two science centers in Los Angeles County will feature a live feed from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the rover was designed and built. There will also be presentations about Mars and the mission, and telescopes for planet-gazing.
The closest event is at the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey, which host its "landing party" starting at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5. (Click here for more information and see the map at below right.) A similar event is planned at Los Angeles' Griffith Observatory. (Click here for details.)
Or host your own "landing party" by tuning into the webcast at NASA TV.