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.

 

 

The first video ever taken of the far side of the Moon was recorded by the twin GRAIL Probes, Ebb and Flow, and released on February 1, 2012. The GRAIL probes were launched aboard the Delta II rocket on September 10, 2011 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The only people to have seen the far side of the Moon have been the astronauts of the Apollo missions and robotic spacecraft. Why do we never see the other side of the Moon? The Moon is tidally locked with the earth; therefore the same side of the Moon always faces the earth.

The twin GRAIL probes are on a mission lead by Maria Zuber, the principal investigator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The purpose of the mission is to further explore the Moon’s gravity fields.

“My resolution of the new year is to unlock lunar mysteries and understand how the Moon, Earth and other rocky planets evolved,” Zuber said.  Part of her resolution came true when Ebb (GRAIL-A), reached the moon’s orbit December 31, 2011 and Flow (GRAIL-B) reached it on January 1, 2012. “Now, with GRAIL-A successfully placed in orbit around the Moon, we are one step closer to achieving that goal,” Zuber said.

Zuber has been working to create a program geared toward school children in the fifth to eight grade. The GRAIL probes are equipped with a MoonKAM, Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students, a program designed to spark children’s interest in space and science in hopes some becoming scientists and engineers. The students will be able to direct the MoonKAM to take pictures of specific areas of the Moon. The image will then be sent directly back to each classroom giving students the great opportunity to study craters, highlands and future landing sites.

Teachers: if you are interested in signing up your class for the MoonKAM program, please visit www.Moonkam.ucsd.edu/register.

Here's a video from the mission...

Embedded video from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology


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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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Saturday, November 26, 3:00 p.m.

Professor Jim Bell from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University will be presenting Postcards from Mars: Using Rovers to Explore the Mysteries of the Red Planet at our Science on a Sphere exhibit.

In January 2004, NASA successfully landed twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, on Mars, in the most ambitious mission of robotic exploration ever attempted.  Professor Bell is the lead scientist in charge of the rovers’ Pancam color cameras, and has had an amazing front row seat for their photographic and geologic adventures.  In this presentation, Professor Bell will share his favorite images and stories from "inside" mission operations, and describe the major scientific findings made by Spirit for its six year adventure, and by Opportunity during its nearly 8 year mission, which continues to this day.

Professor Bell is also a member of the camera team for the Curiosity rover, NASA's next Mars mission scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral on November 25.  In his presentation, Professor Bell will also share the latest information on the plans for this next exciting Martian roving adventure!

Jim_Bell


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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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Nearing the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, planet Mars serves as a memorial to those lost that tragic day in 2001. Two aluminum shields were fashioned out of scraps of metal from both tower 1 and tower 2 of the World Trade Center, and attached to NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity Rovers in 2003. The shields are adorned with an American flag and are designed to protect cables on the Rover’s rock abrasion tools, also known as RAT’s.

The Rover’s new tribute tools were made by Stephen Gorevan, founder and chairman of Honeybee Robotics whose offices are actually located less than a mile away from ground zero.  “It’s gratifying knowing that a piece of the World Trade Center is up there on Mars,” says Gorevan. “That shield on Mars, to me, contrasts the destructive nature of the attackers with the ingenuity and hopeful attitude of Americans.”

Fellow Honeybee engineer Tom Myrick hand delivered the scrap pieces to a shop in Texas that had already been working on other RAT components. There, the scraps were turned into the shields that are no larger than a credit card.

The Honeybee team never intended to publicly announce the memorial when it was launched back in 2004. Gorevan stated, “It was intended to be a quiet tribute. Enough time has passed. We want the families to know”

NASA believes that even after the Rover’s stop functioning, the memorial pieces could remain in good condition for millions of years!

911_Memorial


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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: [email protected]
  Orlando Science Center is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of power2give.org/centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.
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