While achievements in space exploration make up an important part of Space Center Houston's newest exhibit, almost every element of The Next Giant Leap: Beyond Planet Earth
invites visitors to contemplate where humans will go from here.
The exhibit, which is sponsored by the city of Webster, opens Oct. 8 and continues through Jan. 18, 2015. Its hands-on elements offer a vision for the next 50 to 100 years of space travel: voyages to Mars, asteroid landings and even a trip to an ice-covered moon of Jupiter, where a buried sea could reveal signs of life.
"There's a sense as you progress through this exhibit that destinations throughout our solar system, and the many systems beyond it, are nearly within our grasp," said Dr. Melanie Johnson, Space Center Houston's director of education and exhibits. "I'm confident this experience will capture our visitors' imaginations and inspire future explorers."
The Next Giant Leap: Beyond Planet Earth has been organized by the American Museum of Natural Science in collaboration with MadaTech: the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space, in Haifa, Israel and is comprised of six immersive environments:
- History of Space Exploration features replica space artifacts such as Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite and Vostok 1 space capsule that boosted Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, into orbit.
- Returning to the Moon guests will explore a scale model of a possible space habitat while learning about the possibility of creating a semi-permanent lunar research station.
- Near-Earth Asteroids includes a recreation of the Japanese spacecraft that rendezvoused with a near-Earth asteroid to collect samples. Using touch-screen interactive technology, visitors can explore 'what if' scenarios for deflecting a "doomsday" asteroid.
- Voyaging to Mars includes a full-scale replica of Curiosity, the Mars Science Laboratory Rover, and interactive terra-forming simulation. Here, guests will learn first-hand how astronauts might eat, sleep and exercise during their journey to the Red Planet.
- Reaching the Outer Solar System features a replica of the robotic submersible that could be sent to the Jupiter moon, Europa, to explore its icy oceans.
- Beyond our Solar System is a look at the thousands of solar systems discovered by scientists and the promise of life their planets hold.
This exhibit is included with paid admission to Space Center Houston and is part of the non-profit's Next Giant Leap 2014-15 education and exhibits season which focuses on what NASA is working on now and in the future.