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Astronaut Mark Kelly to launch Atlanta Science Festival at Emory

The 2017 Atlanta Science Festival blasts off on Tuesday, March 14, with a talk by Captain Mark Kelly – commander of Space Shuttle Endeavour’s final mission – at 7 p.m. in Emory’s Glenn Memorial Auditorium.

“We wanted to start off this year with someone who appeals to people of all ages and who epitomizes science in action,” says Meisa Salaita, co-executive director of the Atlanta Science Festival, which will continue through March 25 with events throughout the metro area. “Who better than an astronaut to show us how science can take us to new and exciting places?”

The title of Kelly’s talk is “Endeavour to Succeed.” Tickets for the event can be bought in advance on the Atlanta Science Festival’s web site for $12 ($8 for children 12 and under). They will also be available at the door the day of the event for $15.

Starting at 5:30 p.m., during the countdown to Kelly’s talk, the public is invited to join toy rocket launching activities on the Glenn Memorial lawn, led by members of the Georgia Tech Ramblin’ Rocket Club and the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers.

Kelly, who began his NASA career in 1996, commanded the Space Shuttle Discovery, as well as the Endeavour. He left the astronaut corps in the summer of 2011 to help his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, recover from gunshot wounds she received in an assassination attempt. The couple’s story captivated the nation, and they went on to found Americans for Responsible Solutions to advocate for gun control.

NASA is comparing biological data from the Earth-bound Kelly with his identical twin brother, Scott Kelly, who recently spent a year in space. The unique Twins Study may offer insights into how to prepare astronauts for a long-term mission to Mars.

Kelly is also a prolific author, including numerous children’s books with space themes, and he will be available for a book signing following his talk at Emory.

The 12-day Atlanta Science Festival features talks, lab tours, film screenings, participatory activities and science demonstrations — more than 100 events at dozens of different venues, including the Emory campus. “We’ve expanded the number of days at the festival of the year, to avoid scheduling conflicts and give people a chance to experience more of the festival,” Salaita says. (Click here for the full schedule of events.)

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