Museum at Prairiefire: “Beyond Planet Earth, The Future of Space Exploration”
Space exploration has been somewhat crowded out of the news feeds lately, but it remains a topic that can stir spirits and ignite imaginations.
For those who would like to learn about the potential of space travel and reflect on cosmic possibilities, the Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park is presenting “Beyond Planet Earth, the Future of Space Exploration,” opening Sept. 30.
The traveling exhibition was developed by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York.
“It looks into the explorer part of the human spirit,” said Carson Curry, marketing and media coordinator with the Museum at Prairiefire. “Space has been an inspiration for thousands and thousands of years. Planets are finite, so looking for other ways to expand humanity is an obvious need in the future.”
The exhibit is comprised of six sections:
- A look back at the history of space exploration, including models of Sputnik and a Mars Rover, and a diorama depicting the final Hubble Space Telescope upgrade
- The Moon. Visitors will explore a lunar crater and consider why scientists think the rim would make a suitable location for a base camp.
- Asteroids. This section will include an interactive kiosk for exploring different ways to alter an asteroid’s course.
- Mars. Visitors will be invited to take a “Mars personality test” to see if they have what it would take to reach the Red Planet and live and work there.
- Europa. This moon of Jupiter intrigues scientists because they think it may have a deep saltwater ocean that could contain life.
- Beyond, which will delve into potential explorations beyond our solar system
The exhibit will include photos, paintings, videos, audio, models and life-sized representations. “Pretty much every medium you can think of is being used to represent space travel,” Curry said. “There are large painted murals to represent what an outer space landscape would look like. There are full-sized dioramas of a moon crater, of a Martian environment.”
Curry said the American Museum of Natural History has its own fabrication studio, and all the items for the exhibit were produced through a collaborative effort of AMNH artists and scientists. “They’re made by hand and made by real artists. They’re not fabricated for mass production, because these are unique to the exhibit. The art is there, and it’s something people might not necessarily think of when they think of science.”
When asked if some Americans feel that we are past the peak of our age of space exploration, Curry said the explorations to date are “not even close to what we can accomplish. People have been talking about ramping up return missions to the moon, and also to Mars and beyond. Our satellites have reached the end of the solar system.”
But the point of the exhibit is not destinations for probes and satellites and whatnot, but people.
“The next big journey for us, which we’ve only scratched the surface of, is space,” Curry said. “It’s a topic we haven’t covered before. We’ve done dinosaurs, animals, all sorts of things of that nature. We’re excited because it’s a human-centric exhibition. It’s about astronomy and space, but it’s really about how people are going to be achieving all this.”
“Beyond Planet Earth, the Future of Space Exploration,” opens Sept. 30 and continues through March 1, 2018 at the Museum at Prairiefire, 5801 W. 135th St., Overland Park. For more information, 913.333.3519 or museumatpf.org
Above: This Hubble Telescope diorama is part of “Beyond Planet Earth, the Future of Space Exploration,” opening Sept. 30 at the Museum at Prairiefire. (Museum at Prairiefire)