Exhibit Hall

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.

 

 

Recently, the Science Center welcomed Dr. Jim Bell of Arizona State University. Dr. Bell is a key contributor on the Mars Rover projects, including the most recent project - Curiosity. In this video, Dr. Bell discusses what it's like to work on these projects.


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Astronomers have found the brightest and youngest example yet of a fast-spinning star. This recent discovery has scientists believing that these versions of stars may be more common than they thought. The spinning star is a millisecond pulsar called J1823-3021A and is located inside a conglomeration of stars called a globular cluster which can be found 27,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius.

Pulsars form when the remnants of massive stars from supernova explosions collapse into compact objects made only of particles called neutrons. When  a great mass, like that of our sun’s,  is packed into a space the size of a city, the conserved angular momentum causes the neutron star to spin very quickly and emit a ray of high-energy light that sends out a sweeping beam, much like that of a lighthouse. Because astronomers can only see the beam when it’s pointed at Earth, the light looks as though it is pulsing.

The pulsar emits intense high-energy gamma rays which researchers were able to study using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. According to their findings this particular pulsar is only 25 million years old – a baby for these kinds of stars, who tend to be a billion years old or so!

youngest_spinning_star_blog


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A giant meteorite has been found in the mountains of China. Embedded into the Altai Mountains in China’s Xinjiang Uygur province, the large rock is estimated to have a mass between 25-30 tons, says Sky and Telescope magazine. This discovery could be the country’s largest known grounded meteorite, as well as one of the largest meteorites found on Earth.

The site was investigated by a small group, led by Baolin Zhang, a meteorite specialist at the Beijing Planetarium. What they found was an oddly shaped iron meteorite sticking out of the ground, measuring about 7.5 feet long and half as wide. This is a very exciting discovery for the scientific world. The article on explains that “most meteorites were formed close to [about] 4.6 billion years ago, when the solar system was formed, any newly discovered meteorites (regardless of their size) have the potential to provide scientists with some unique insights into the formation and earliest history of our solar system."

Another iron meteorite was found in 1898 in the same region. Research is still being conducted to see if the two meteorites are related. It is still undecided on how the meteorite will be removed from its current location to be further analyzed. The largest known meteorite can be seen below. It was found in Namibia and has a mass of about 60 tons.

Meteorite


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NASA's last space shuttle, Atlantis, has left International Space Station and is back home. Their mission was the 135th and last flight for the program, which began in 1981. Over the past 30 years, the space shuttles held more than just humans and the occasional animals. A Star Wars lightsaber, Buzz Lightyear figurine, and even the Mets’ home plate have all been space travelers. See a list of the top 9 weirdest things that flew into space.

BuzzLightyear


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Wine may not just be for unwinding after a hard day of work on Earth. French researchers suggest red wine may reduce the effects of microgravity on astronauts in space. Microgravity is also known as weightlessness or zero gravity. It is a state of free fall, just like the feeling you get as you drop on a roller coaster.

When experienced over an extended period of time, microgravity can have some scary consequences. Bone deterioration, muscle loss, weakened immune system, dehydration, and shortness of breath are all common side effects of weightlessness on astronauts. Human bones grow in a state of gravity and our immune system builds up to ward off infections we are exposed to on Earth. Once humans are taken out of that state of gravity and familiar environment for an extended period of time, our bodies can react negatively to the change. In space, many astronauts experience nausea, headaches, sweating, and of energy from Space Adaption Syndrome. It usually lasts a few days, but their immune system is weakened.

Astronauts go through extensive training to prepare for these effects. But according to recent research, drinking red wine could reduce the risks associated with zero gravity. As stated in an article from DiscoveryNews.com, “Red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that prevents blood clots, lowers "bad" cholesterol levels, and just helps protect your blood vessels in general. And now it seems as if resveratrol can also prevent bone density loss and muscle atrophy.” By studying rats in a simulated microgravity environment, the French researchers were able to see that those rats that didn’t receive resveratrol showed a loss of bone and muscle density, as well as signs of pre-diabetes from insulin resistance.

So what’s the catch? Why aren’t astronauts popping bottles of vintage in space? It turns out the rats had to consume quite a bit of resveratrol to show resistance to microgravity. It would take more than one or two glasses of wine for humans to do so. NASA certainly doesn’t want our astronauts intoxicated in space, so more research will need to be done. For now, the astronauts aboard Atlantis can look forward to a nice glass of wine when they come back to earth.

red wine


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777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • TTY: 407.514.2005 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: gservices@osc.org
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
This project is funded in part by Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program. Privacy Policy • Accessibility