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.

 

 

Tatooine may be the fictional home world of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, but astronomers believe this made-up world may exist more or less. Last week, the first ever multi-planet solar system was discovered circling not one, but two stars!

These stars and its planets are more than 5,000 light-years away. The new, complete solar system with twin suns resides in the constellation Cygnus. Scientists have announced these planets as Kepler-47b and Kepler-47c. The planet in the inner most part of this solar system, Kelpler-47b, orbits the twin stars in less than 50 days. Kepler-47c, which is located on the outer most part of the solar system, takes more than 300 days to travel around the stars. It has the largest known orbit than any exoplanet.

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You may have used the expression “once in a blue moon” at some point or another, but do you actually know what it means? This phrase refers to something that is uncommon, or in some cases, rare. The term blue moon comes from the Farmers’ Almanac. The Farmers’ Almanac defined each season as having three full moons. If four moons occurred within one season, they referred to it as a blue moon.

Such is the case in August this year, when two full moons appear within the same calendar month. And don’t be fooled; the moon isn’t actually blue! On the first of the month, the initial full moon occurred. Friday marks the second and last chance to see a blue moon until 2015.

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An extraordinary cluster of galaxies is continuing to shatter cosmic records! The cluster of galaxies is located nearly 7 billion light years away. It is known as SPT-CLJ2344-4243, though astronomers have given it a less formal nickname: the Phoenix Cluster. Named after the constellation it resides in, the cluster appears to contain thousands of galaxies within it, with each varying in size to that of a dwarf galaxy (a small galaxy comprised of several billion stars) to clusters of stars the size of the Milky Way galaxy.

The Phoenix Cluster is unlike anything astronomers have ever seen before; it is about 2,000 times the apparent mass of the Milky Way. Or to put things in better perspective, 2.5 quadrillion times the mass of the sun!

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With fierce ambition, determination and persistence, NASA scored a huge victory for the U.S. this morning by successfully mastering and executing the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. The potentially risky landing was perfectly maneuvered, and the car-sized rover touched down on Gale Crater at 1:32 a.m. EDT Monday.

In the early hours of the morning as the landing unfolded, each step proceeded without flaw. The capsule entered the atmosphere at the appointed time, with thrusters guiding it toward the crater. Next the parachute was deployed, then shortly after the rover and rocket stage dropped away from the parachute. This began the powered descent toward the surface.

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Nearly eight months ago, NASA launched Curiosity - the latest Mars rover - into space. Set to land on Monday, August 6 at 1:31 a.m. EST, NASA scientists and observers around the world anxiously await to see if Curiosity will able to maneuver the landing process and successfully set down on the Red Planet.

NASA scientists and engineers spend so much time working with the Mars Laboratory rovers that the robots become almost like pets, and just like pets, the rovers get names that often say a lot about their "personalities." The name "Curiosity" explains exactly the nature of this rover’s mission, which is to act as a mobile science laboratory on Mars to investigate whether life could ever exist on the planet.

The rover will begin by studying Gale Crater to see if the area contains any of the necessary ingredients that could sustain life. NASA scientists considered 60 different landing sites and spent diligent time analyzing all possibilities before deciding upon Gale Crater as the designated landing location for Curiosity. About as large as Rhode Island, the site was chosen because it provides a variety of interesting places for the rover to explore and is clear of hazards which will help with a safe landing. The rover, which is no larger than a small SUV, will spend the majority of its time examining rocks and soils in the remote areas of Gale Crater.

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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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