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The ``Public Connection'' project, funded by NASA's Digital Library Technology Program, creates a link through which near-real-time data and imagery can flow via Rice University to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Museum's 2.4 million visitors per year will have access to current research in the form of planetarium programs, computer-based interactive kiosks, and space and earth science problem-solving simulations. The ``Earth Forum'' and ``Challenger Center'' problem-solving simulations, which attract school classes as well as individual visitors, will also include real-time data in the near future. This presentation introduces the first interactive display module (completed in the fall of 1994), on Comet Shoemaker--Levy 9, as well as the ``Earth Today'' exhibit, ``Space Update'' and ``Space Weather'' software, and other planetarium-oriented programs. We discuss the planetarium feature ``Connected!,'' which premiered in January 1995 and highlights recent results in space science available over the Internet. Also, the Museum's Burke Baker Planetarium has already co-hosted part of Rice University's Continuing Education program for ``Surfing the Solar System'' in addition to other Internet-oriented educational events. Finally, we address plans for future software that will enable planetaria to incorporate research results into live and pre-recorded programming.
A World Wide Web page (http://space.rice.edu/hmns/connect.html) describes the project in more detail and allows users to download software for educational use. Suggestions for material (archival or realtime) to be included in any of these exhibits is appreciatively solicited.
8:30a program listing