Questacon will reopen its doors this Wednesday (8 July) for the first time since COVID-19 forced its closure on 21 March.

Canberra’s favourite one-stop science destination will reopen its doors this week, launching its new Mission to Mars experience.

Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre will start its gradual reopening from Wednesday (8 July), with guided tours of its theatre-cross-exhibition experience.

Questacon deputy director and general manager, Bobby Cerini, said visitors were proving desperate to return to the venue, with almost all July sessions already booked out.

“We will be holding the timed, guided tours through select galleries for the exhibition, and guests are required to book online,” she said.

“When we opened up bookings last week, we saw a 2000% increase in web traffic.”

The 90-minute tour is set to educate its guests about Mars, and the challenges humans are yet to overcome before stepping onto the planet is possible.

Ms Cerini said while the hands-off approach is a bit different to what guests are used to, the exhibition would be as fun and interactive as ever.

“We are really excited we have been able to work with our members to test out the exhibition and bring the fun, safe and immersive experience to our guests from this week,” she said.

“One of the biggest highlights of the experience is the 7-metre Mars globe created by UK artist Luke Jerram. It is a huge inflatable orb hanging in a dark space in Questacon and it looks amazing.

“It’s the only one in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Questacon director, Professor Graham Durant, said he hoped the experience would inspire guests to further their curiosity about the planet. 

“Through the Mission to Marsexperience we aim to inspire further curiosity about Mars, the other planets in our Solar System, and beyond,” he said. 

“Three international space missions to Mars are scheduled to launch in the coming months. In 2021 we might well find evidence of former life on another planet.”

The science centre will host up to five sessions per day during school holidays and move to four sessions per day after.

Self-guided tours will be unavailable to the public until further notice, with the Mission to Mars exhibition taking bookings up until the end of August.

“We will be making a decision closer to the date of us reopening our public galleries, and it will be dependent on the public health guidelines and advice at that time,” Ms Cerini said.

“We are taking a really cautious and steady approach to the reopening of the venue, and the safety of our staff and guests are the highest priority at this time.”

Bookings for the Mission to Mars experience are essential and available online.

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