The updated gallery – open on 26 April and to be called Exploring Space – will celebrate our exploration of space so far and investigate the benefits it brings to everyday life. It will highlight some of the many space missions the UK has participated in and examine the stories of some of the scientists behind those missions. The display will include striking objects and images, authoritative text and interactive displays.
Doug Millard, Space Curator at the Science Museum, said: “Space displays have always been one of the Science Museum’s most popular attractions and with Exploring Space we are proud to introduce a range of new exhibits for visitors to enjoy. The missions we cover are amazing and we hope they will interest our millions of visitors and inspire more students to follow careers in science and technology.”
Key new exhibits include the Spacelab 2 X-ray telescope – the actual huge instrument that was flown on the Space Shuttle, full-size models of the Huygens Titan probe and Beagle 2 Mars Lander, the Hubble Space Telescope’s flight spare Faint Object Camera detector and an amazing computer-generated animation of the satellites that orbit Earth. And with the Moon back at the top of many space agencies agendas the Museum has conserved and reconfigured its lunar module to a new level of accuracy.
Standing over three metres high and weighing 600 kg, the Spacelab 2 X-ray telescope will be one of the largest exhibits in the Space Gallery. It went into space on the Challenger Shuttle in 1985 and was the first instrument to image the centre of our galaxy at high energy X-ray levels The University of Birmingham team that designed and built the telescope has re-assembled it especially for the Museum.
Huygens was the first spacecraft to touch down on the mysterious Titan – Saturn’s largest moon – in 2005. This European Space Agency probe – part of the larger Cassini- Huygens mission – spent seven years travelling over 2 billion miles to reach an alien world that resembles aspects of primordial Earth.
Beagle 2, the Mars lander with the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission, was lost in 2003 after apparently crash-landing on the Red Planet. However Beagle’s innovative miniaturisation will pave the way for future planetary missions, and is already helping to improve medical technologies here on Earth.
A mesmerising animation of Earth surrounded by its swarms of artificial satellites represents the sheer number and variety of spacecraft that have been put into orbit in the fifty years since Sputnik 1. And with 26th April marking the 45th anniversary of Ariel 1 – the first satellite to carry UK scientific experiments – this Science Museum gallery redevelopment, supported by EADS, British National Space Centre (BNSC) and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), will mark the history and current status of space exploration.
Mr Millard added: “We are celebrating 50 years of the space age but perhaps the best is yet to come: today’s students are tomorrow’s explorers and we hope this new display will have something to stimulate their imaginations, whet their appetites and start them aiming for the stars.”
Richard Purnell | alfa
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