AAS 204th Meeting, June 2004
Session 19 Astronomy Education
Oral, Monday, May 31, 2004, 10:00-11:30am, 706

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[19.07] Alien Earths: A Traveling Science Exhibit and Education Program

P. B. Dusenbery, C. A. Morrow, J. Harold (Space Science Institute)

Where did we come from? Are we alone? These age-old questions form the basis of NASA's Origins Program, a series of missions spanning the next twenty years that will use a host of space- and ground-based observatories to understand the origin and development of galaxies, stars, planets, and the conditions necessary to support life. The Space Science Institute in Boulder, CO, is developing a 3,000 square-foot traveling exhibition, called Alien Earths, which will bring origins-related research and discoveries to students and the American public. Alien Earths will have four interrelated exhibit areas: Our Place in Space, Star Birth, PlanetQuest, and Search for Life. Exhibit visitors will explore the awesome events surrounding the birth of stars and planets; they will join scientists in the hunt for planets outside our solar system including those that may be in "habitable zones" around other stars; and finally they will be able to learn about the wide range of conditions for life on Earth and how scientists are looking for signs of life beyond Earth. Visitors will also learn about the tools scientists use, such as space-based and ground-based telescopes, to improve our understanding of the cosmos. The exhibit's size will permit it to visit medium sized museums in all regions of the country. It will begin its 3-year tour to 9 host museums and science centers in early 2005 at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California. The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) will manage the exhibit's national tour. In addition to the exhibit, the project includes workshops for educators and docents at host sites, as well as a public website that will use exhibit content to delve deeper into origins research. Current partners in the Alien Earths project include ASTC, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Lawrence Hall of Science, NASA Astrobiology Institute, NASA missions (Navigator, SIRTF, and Kepler), the SETI Institute, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. (Supported by grants from NSF and NASA)

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