On Saturday, 11 local high school teachers got to examine samples of materials collected from the moon, Mars, and asteroids at a NASA-led workshop.
The workshop, hosted at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria, gave these teachers the opportunity to earn certification to bring these real moon rocks and meteorites back to their classrooms.
They learned how to safely handle and care for the samples through instructors Brian Day and Joseph Minafra of NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute.
The workshop kicked off the college's Asteroid Days celebration, a two-day event featuring NASA expositions, workshops, and lectures at the Santa Maria campus. This is all leading up to the historic launch of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission.
According to NASA, DART is scheduled to launch no earlier than 10:20 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 23 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in Lompoc.
Those participating in Asteroid Days can view the DART mission launch from Hancock's Lompoc Valley Center. All events are free and open to the public.
A full list of Asteroid Days events can be found here.