Now Open on Level 4
For centuries, the mysteries of space have captured our imagination and inspired us to look ever further into the cosmos. Now, the Orlando Science Center invites you to begin your exploration at Our Planet, Our Universe, a new permanent exhibit that takes a fascinating look at space as well as elements found right here on Earth.
An original exhibit on astronomy and earth science, Our Planet, Our Universe explores the strange, curious, and odd peculiarities of the universe and our place in it. Discover the dynamic forces and systems that shape our Earth, as well as other planets and discover the latest information about our solar system. New experiences include computer-based interactives and visuals, including images direct from the NASA/Hubble Space Telescope, and hands-on exhibits that explore some strange - and some familiar - phenomena.
The exhibit is divided into distinct areas that explore earth and space - here are a few of the hands-on exhibits you'll encounter:
Earth, Wind & Sky
- Aeolian Landscapes: Lets visitors manipulate fans to discover how the force of wind can shift sand into spectacular dune shapes and patterns.
- Blue Sky: Find out why our sky is blue through manipulation of different filters in front of a light source through a medium.
- Mars Rover: Guide a to the planetary rover over an 8’diameter simulated Martian terrain Takes the controls of the rover to move and pick up rock samples with its robotic arm while your friend watches the images the rover camera reveals.
Planets & Portals
- Ask An Astronomer: interactive video kiosk featuring short, lively and entertaining answers by the astronomers at the Spitzer Space Science Center.
- Cosmic Collisions: See what happens when galaxies collide through an interactive kiosk.
- Tonight’s Sky: What will I see if I look up at the night sky tonight? This software program from NASA is automatically updated every month to show appropriate stars, constellations and other objects playing on a large screen TV.
Gravity, Waves & Warps
- No Sound in Space: Hear what happens when you start an alarm bell, then pump out the air. Can sound waves move through the vacuum of space?
- Black Holes Quiz: Explore the strange and unique phenomena surrounding black holes. Take a journey into a black hole, or find out more at the black hole encyclopedia.
- Warping Space: Manipulate ‘stars’ and ‘planets’ along a 2D universe to see how different space can warp into 3 dimensions.
08 April 2011
Posted in Our Planet, Our Universe
On August 3, 2004 NASA launched the MESSENGER discovery mission, an unmanned spacecraft set to send back pictures of the entire planet of Mercury. This mission is monumental because this is the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury and the first pictures of Mercury we will have from a spacecraft since Mariner 10 in 1974. The magnetic pull of the sun coupled with the intense heat have made it very difficult to obtain any images of the sunny side of Mercury. Until now we have only had recorded images of 45 percent of the planet‘s surface. Scientists researched and found the best way around this dilemma is through the inner solar system.
When MESSENGER launched from Earth in 2004 it began an eight year path into Mercury’s orbit. First it flew by Earth once, then by Venus twice, and took a flyby of Mercury. In 2008 the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) craft made its initial approach and took pictures of regions of Mercury that have never been seen before by the human eye. Last month on March 17, 2011 the MESSENGER craft successfully entered the orbit of Mercury. On March 29th we got the first pictures back of Mercury from orbit and they are spectacular! The MESSENGER mission will continue collecting data for another year.
Scientists hope that from this mission we will gain more insight into the mysteries of Mercury including its geologic features, its core and density, its thin atmosphere yet presence of a magnetic field, the unusual materials at the poles, and possibly clues to the evolution of the solar system itself.
Find out more about Mercury and the other planets in our solar system by visiting The Orlando Science Center and exploring our permanent exhibit on astronomy and Earth Science, Our Planet, Our Universe.
Two articles from National Geographic Website:
Keep up with The MESSENGER: