Beyond Planet Earth:The Future of Space Exploration
The Moon. Mars. An icy moon of Jupiter. A near-Earth asteroid. In the not too distant future, missions to these destinations will launch from Earth.
All would involve countless hours of planning and hard work, opportunity for scientific glory—and risk. But if the missions succeed, what adventures would unfold. So, tonight, look up. Above you: the universe.
An augmented reality app created as a companion to the new exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration at the American Museum of Natural History.
Why is Mars the most tempting planet for human exploration? No other planet in our solar system is more likely to harbor life. And it's close enough to get there in less than a year using currently available technology.
Asteroids are small rocky bodies that orbit the Sun. Most do so in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. But near-Earth asteroids orbit much closer to our planet—and sometimes even crash into it.
Can humans visit these space rocks? And when will one hit us again?
The giant planets of the outer solar system--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune--have more than 160 moons. Many of these are as interesting as the planets they orbit, and Europa, one of Jupiter's largest moons, is especially intriguing.
Just a three-day trip from Earth by spacecraft, the luminous Moon beckons. Only 12 men—American astronauts on Apollo missions—have set foot on its near-black, powdery surface and no person has been there since December 1972.
Whether orbiting other planets or moons, landing on them, or just flying by, small but sturdy unmanned spacecraft--basically robots--have provided Earth-bound scientists with images of every planet in the solar system and even beyond, inspiring and informing future missions--both manned and unmanned.
Today, national agencies like NASA aren't the only ones taking on the challenge of space exploration.
Many private companies are developing vehicles to ferry astronauts, private citizens and cargo into Earth orbit—and maybe one day to the Moon and Mars.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, against a backdrop of ferocious competition with the United States, the communist Soviet Union achieved a remarkable set of "firsts" in space, starting with the launch of the small satellite Sputnik 1 in October 1957.
Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, a new exhibition that offers a vision of the future of space travel as it boldly examines humanity's next steps in our solar system and beyond.
Dr. Michael Shara is Curator in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural history. Prior to joining the Museum, he was with the Space Telescope Science Institute at Johns Hopkins for 17 years where he was responsible for the peer review committees for the Hubble Space Telescope.
Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York in collaboration with MadaTech: The Israel National Museum of Science, Technology & Space, Haifa, Israel.
Beyond Planet Earth is made possible through the sponsorship of
And is proudly supported by Con Edison.
Major funding has been provided by The Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund.
Additional support is generously provided by
Marshall P. and Rachael C. Levine
Drs. Harlan B. and Natasha Levine
Mary and David Solomon
Presented with special thanks to NASA.