interactive, inter-stellar journey begins here with
the Mars Transporter, a simulated
space travel experience that will take you to the Mars
surface. Don’t worry, the six-month journey will
feel more like a few minutes, and once on the planet’s
surface you’ll know it was well worth the wait.
Let go of your inhibitions and climb on board. Outer
space awaits you.
Transporter – NASA’s
vision for Mars exploration comes to life with this
simulated transporter experience that’s literally
out-of-this-world. Modeled after NASA’s own vision
for deep space exploration, this Mars Transit Vehicle
launches from Hampton with its guest crew to embark
on a six-month journey to the Red Planet. The simulated
journey features dramatic lighting and sound effects
along with floor vibrations and the faint hum of engines
that make the experience a realistic one. After a treacherous
jaunt through solar radiation and past asteroids, the
MTV parks in Mars orbit and the landing vehicle carries
the crew habitation pod to the surface. As the pod doors
open, the Mars surface greets the crew. This space adventure
has just begun.
Surface – Beyond
the Mars Transporter, the simulated Red Planet’s
surface awaits. From realistic rocks, textures on the
floor, dramatic lighting, and breathtaking murals, it’s
easy to believe you have traveled to Mars. Gazing out
into the gallery the planet surface reveals footprints
and tire tracks in its reddish dust. These tracks lead
guests to discover their first Mars encounter, and no,
it’s not a Martian.
Orbiter — Managed by NASA Langley Research Center, the Viking
Project’s objective was to investigate Mars. The Orbiter was designed
to orbit the planet and map the entire Martian surface. In conjunction with
the Viking Lander, it relayed information to Earth. The orbiter is suspended
overhead as guests enter the mars landscape.
to Mars Exploration Rovers – The Martian
surface has been explored in five locations by increasingly
Full-scale models of the Viking Lander, the first explorer,
and the Mars Exploration Rover, the most recent to land
on the surface, offer a detailed look at the past, present
and future of Mars exploration. Behind the models are
three panoramas displayed on wide projection screens.
Visitors can navigate through these panoramas and choose
hotspots that zoom in on significant features and discoveries.
Races – Today’s
Mars exploration take place here on Earth. With robotic
spacecraft, controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Lab are the real space explorers. Visitors can try their
hand at being a Mars explorer when they take the controls
of two Rovers and simulate a mission. Using a computer
workstation to send a series of commands to a rover
robot, guests attempt to complete mission tasks. Through
images sent back from the rover visitors can determine
their position within the landscape and plan their next
moves. Limited battery life, sand storms, and physical
landscape features provide challenge for even the most
practiced Rover controller.
Rock – Guests
can have a close encounter with this little piece of
. . . Mars. Discovered in a farmer’s field, it
is suspected that the rock is part of a Mars meteorite
that hurled itself at Earth. Visitors can compare and
contrast this sample to a similar rock from the moon.
Rock – This
three-billion-year-old moon rock is one small piece
of the Goodwill rock acquired on the Apollo 17 mission
in 1972. The sample helped scientists learn more about
the moon’s geological make-up. A monitor next
to the moon rock case shows the video of the Goodwill
Rock being collected on the moon.
Maker - Craters
are a universal phenomenon caused by simple processes.
In this exhibit, graphics explain the physics of “cratering,” how
scientists use rocks from different locations of a crater
to learn about the underlying geology, and how crater
mapping can be used to date the surfaces of planets.
Crater Maker allows visitors to create their own crater
when an air gun fires empty paint ball pellets into
a tray of powder, creating realistic craters in the
surface. A high-speed camera captures each impact for
playback. Guests can observe the creation and patterning
of craters in real-time or re-play the crater creation
in slow motion.
Excursion Module Simulator (LEMS) - Built in 1965 at
the Langley Research Center as part of
the Lunar Landing Research Facility (LLRF), the
used to familiarize the Apollo astronauts with handling characteristics of
a lunar-landing vehicle. Displayed now in the Space Quest gallery, this LEMS
is the original trainer used at NASA Langley Research Center in the 1960s
by Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and 22 other astronauts who
were preparing for their trip to the moon. The simulator, which weighs in at
a hefty 8,900 pounds, allowed astronauts to experience piloting problems they
would encounter in the last 150 feet of descent to the surface of the moon.
Landing Simulator – Landing
on the Moon is no simple task. Especially in the 1960s
when man had just begun to explore outer space. The
Lunar Landing Simulator allows visitors to experience
the thrill and confusion of landing on another world
where there are no familiar cues to relative sizes and
distances. Guests can step aboard a recreation of the
Apollo Lunar Lander and, using a joystick and throttle,
can control the descent of the lander to the lunar surface.
for the Moon - During an Apollo mission, astronauts
had one chance to land on the Moon and
they had to undergo extensive training to be ready
for it. Visitors can choose from several video presentations that illustrate
the LEMS in action during several training exercises performed right here
Langley Research Center.
Orbiter – The Orbiter on display is one of eight spacecraft
built by the Boeing Company. It was designed to photograph the lunar surface
to help scientists select suitable landing sites for Apollo missions. Orbiters
completed 6,000 orbits of the moon and photographed more than 99 percent of
the lunar surface. The Lunar Orbiter is considered to be one of the most successful
space projects in the history of NASA Langley Research Center.
Landing Sites – A
critical part of the Apollo Mission was to identify
suitable landing sites. Using flip panel graphics, visitors
attempt to identify a suitable landing site on the moon.
Planet Global Projection –– Imagine
a giant sphere that allows you to interact explore the
Earth and other planets with the touch of
a button. At a whopping five feet in diameter, the Magic Planet Global Projector
displays stunning, inter-changing images of the Earth, moon, sun and Mars
in a hemisphere, allowing guests to interact with each
planet. Real-time data
on Earth provides up-to-date information on weather patterns, natural disasters,
and more, allowing visitors to view Earth in the here and now.
Links – As
the visitor center for NASA Langley Research Center
the Virginia Air & Space Center stays on top of
the latest and greatest in space exploration. With NASA
Links guests have access to video of current events
and other items related to NASA’s Mission for
Space Exploration. New media pieces are downloaded directly
from a NASA satellite on a regular basis, so there is
always something new to explore.
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