Washington — An exposition near Buenos Aires is stimulating and satisfying the Argentine public’s curiosity about the U.S. space program, science and technology.
The expo, called Tecnópolis, sits on 50 hectares that formerly contained an army barracks. It is the largest of its kind in Latin America, according to the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires.
The idea for a U.S. focus at Tecnópolis was hatched in early 2012 when Charles Bolden, the administrator of the U.S. space agency NASA, met with Argentina’s ambassador to the United States, Jorge Argüello. At the meeting, Argüello invited NASA to participate in Tecnópolis 2012, an initiative led by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner that highlights the importance of science and technology. NASA is short for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“Science, technology and knowledge will provide added value and continue giving the final qualitative and quantitative leap that Argentina is living,” Fernández said in an article in the Argentina Independent newspaper. Tecnópolis is in its second year, and organizers hope to establish a permanent facility and open it year-round.
“Argentina has long been a steadfast partner with NASA in scientific collaborations,” Bolden said.
“We have not stopped exploring. Right now, six astronauts from several countries are in space on board the International Space Station conducting important scientific research as they circle the Earth every 90 minutes,” said Michael Braukus, a NASA spokesman. On August 5, the space rover Curiosity is scheduled to land on Mars.
“It’s an exciting time at NASA. And the world is sharing its excitement with us through social media and our websites,” Braukus added. He said NASA takes its exhibits about the space program and technology to audiences around the world.
Nearly half of Argentina’s population is under the age of 35, and their interest in science is growing, the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires said. Argentina has a large program to help the country’s researchers to study in the United States, and it maintains a large network of research facilities that have hosted Fulbright exchange scholars.
“Tecnópolis is a wonderful opportunity for the U.S. Embassy to directly engage with Argentine youth,” said embassy spokeswoman Kerri Hannan. “Maybe some of them will even have the chance to pursue a degree in the science, engineering and math fields in the United States in the future.”
The exposition is expected to attract 9 million people over a period that runs to October 14. The audience is expected to include scientists, university groups and student-teacher groups from Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, the embassy said.
At the U.S. expo booth, which will be on display to August 18, visitors can view high-resolution satellite images of Earth, graphic images of major landmarks in space exploration and a mock-up of a space suit like those worn by astronauts on U.S. spaceflights. Visitors can also obtain information on educational exchanges in the United States and accessing scholarships.
The exposition also emphasizes agriculture, education, energy and social sciences. Included are exhibits hosted by more than 100 companies. Admission and transportation to and from the exposition are free.