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 scientists have broken the record for the smallest planet beyond our solar system! The newly-found planet, Kepler 37b, is rocky and only slightly larger than our moon at a mere 3865 kilometers in diameter. It is hellishly hot—it’s so close to its host star that it has a 13-day orbit. This planet may be tiny, but it’s making a big splash in the realms of science!

 

1382364 galaxy landscape

 

Kepler 37b’s host star, Kepler 37, is one of about 150,000 stars being watched by the space-based Kepler Observatory every minute of every day. The mission was launched in 2009 to look for Earth-sized planets positioned in “habitable zones” where liquid water, believed to be necessary for life, can exist on their surfaces. In the beginning, the Kepler team could only find large planets similar in size to Jupiter and Neptune. However, the recent success in finding small planets like Kepler 37b is indicative of amazing technological achievements.

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As citizens living in a constantly expanding universe, it is very important to understand not only how it works, but also, how it originated. Today, scientists around the world are examining particles that are evidence of the main matter from which everything we know around us emerged and obtained a certain mass.

Last summer, scientists announced the finding of a particle that could very well be a Higgs boson particle (or God Particle). This particle was found in the world’s largest high-energy particle accelerator called Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located near Switzerland.

Further studies indicate that this particle is, in fact, a Higgs boson particle. The Higgs boson is an elementary particle of nature discovered by the European Organization of Nuclear Research (CERN) which explains the presence of mass and symmetry in the fundamental particles of the universe.

Scientists will continue to study the particle to finitely determine that the Higgs Field exists, which will allow science to explain how universe really works.

higgsboson



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We’ve heard quite a bit of talk about the Mayan calendar and the supposed end of the world, but what does Dec. 21, 2012 really mean?

Much like we have ways to group time, such as seven days marks a week and 52 weeks make a year, the Mayans grouped time similarly albeit with a different number-base system. Today, the world uses a base-10 system, computers use a base-2 system (binary) and the Mayans used a base-20 system.

Just one of many Mayan calendars, the long count calendar comes to an end Dec. 21 and will “click over” to read “13.0.0.0.0.” This will mark the end of the 13th baktun (properly b’ak’tun) and the beginning of the 14th baktun. Each baktun is 144,000 days or 394.25 years in the long count calendar.

mayan-temple

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With millions of galaxies and planets throughout the universe, do you believe in the possibility of life elsewhere?

NASA researchers recently discovered large amounts of water ice and possible organic compounds on Mercury, suggesting the raw materials necessary for life may be more common than scientists believed.

NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft announced on Nov. 29, 2012 that Mercury contains more than 100 billion tons of water ice near its poles. In the dark, shadowy areas of the planet, temperatures plummet to minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit (188 degrees Celsius), where much of its ice is found. But Messenger suggests even more water ice can be found in slightly warmer areas.

Mercury

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The bright lights of northern Australia quickly switched off as the moon blocked out the sun in a total solar eclipse Wednesday morning.

This marked the first total eclipse seen in Australia in a decade! More than 50,000 spectators on land and sea flooded beaches, boats and hot-air balloons to witness this phenomenal event.

The total eclipse began at 6:35 a.m Wednesday morning, but because of the time zone difference it was Tuesday afternoon in the United States.  The shadows of the moon swept over the Arnhem Land region in Australia's Northern Territory and made its way southeast. It then reached over the Gulf of Carpentaria and into the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The eclipse in Australia lasted an entirety of three hours, but total darkness only took over for about two minutes.

total_eclipse01

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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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