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.

 

 

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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This week held big news for the future of the International Space Station. A new Canadian, Russian and UK collaboration mixes the live stream concept of Google Earth and video playback feature of YouTube to create UrtheCast.com (pronounced “Earth Cast”). With two HD cameras set on the Russian module of the ISS, site users will be virtual spaceship captains, as they search, watch, rewind, fast forward, and zoom in and out of live streams of Earth.

From their own computers and mobile devices, UrtheCast users can clearly see man-made objects and people, and also track the ISS to see when it’ll fly over their homes. At a frame rate of 3.25 frames per second and the ability to zoom-in to 1.1 meters, the cameras are extremely precise in location and time. As if that weren’t stellar enough, UrtheCast can also be shared through Facebook and Twitter, downloaded as a Smartphone App, and third party developers can take video for their own applications.

Here's a video from the company:


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In Our Planet, Our Universe, you can step on a scale to see how much you weigh on each planet. The difference of mass, gravity and planet’s distance from the sun makes your weight fluctuate by sometimes thousands of pounds! Take your curiosity further and see how many years and days old you are on each planet in relation to their rotation periods. You’ll also be able to see when your next birthday would be on each planet! Start celebrating by entering your birthday on this website:

Birthday


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On June 1, this year’s second partial solar eclipse overcame the midnight sky over the Arctic Circle. Also visible from parts of Alaska and Canada, the eclipse began at sunrise in Siberia and northern China at 19:25 UT, ending about 3.5 hours later north of Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean. Another partial solar eclipse is set to grace a small area in the Antarctic Ocean on July 1. A fourth and final partial solar eclipse will also occur November 25 over the southern land of midnight sun.

According to dictionary.com, solar eclipses are the obscuration of the light of the sun by the intervention of the moon between it and a point on the earth. These are beautiful astronomical phenomena, but can be dangerous to look at directly without proper eye protection.  But, how can a solar eclipse be seen at midnight you ask? After all, at night time wouldn’t it be a lunar eclipse? Usually it would, but because of the location of the eclipse, in the Arctic Circle, during the time of the year, the sun is visible even at midnight, making a solar eclipse at midnight possible. Just another of nature’s beautiful oddities!

PSELaplandJun2011_3beldea


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Orlando Science Center • 777 E. Princeton Street • Orlando, Florida 32803 • Phone: 407.514.2000 • Toll Free: 888.OSC.4FUN • Email: [email protected]
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