Hall of the Universe
The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Hall of the Universe, located on the lower level of the Rose Center for Earth and Space, presents the discoveries of modern astrophysics. Divided into four zones, the hall covers the formation, evolution, and properties of stars, planets, galaxies, and the universe.
The Universe Zone explores the expansion of the universe and the limits of human observation. The Galaxies Zone celebrates the beauty, diversity, and violent history of galaxies. The Stars Zone traces the life and death of stars, and links the stars to the elements created by them, including the chemical building blocks of human bodies. The Planets Zone focuses on the variety of planets and their structure, in addition to examining major collisions that have occurred on Earth.
The Cullman Hall of the Universe features exhibits rich with astronomical imagery, specimens that include the 15.5-ton Willamette Meteorite, and media displays that highlight topics in astronomy and astrophysics. At its center, the 13.5-foot-wide Astro Bulletin screen showcases regularly updated features on the latest discoveries in astrophysics. Interactive exhibits include floor scales at various locations that display a visitor’s weight on Mars, Jupiter, the Sun, and other celestial bodies.
The Black Hole exhibit in the Cullman Hall of the Universe features a swirling gas sculpture that shows how matter streams into a black hole. The adjacent Black Hole Theater screens short films about the latest astrophysics research.
The closed-glass Ecosphere, or self-sustaining habitat, explores conditions necessary to sustain life. Algae capture energy from sunlight and, in turn, are eaten by shrimp. The waste from the shrimp then fertilizes the algae.
The Museum has four Moon rocks, the most on display in the United States except for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. All four were collected by astronauts during the Apollo lunar missions in the 1970s.
Two robot "geologists" designed and built by NASA, the rovers were launched toward Mars in June and July 2003. They landed in January 2004 on opposite sides of the planet.
The Willamette Meteorite weighs 15.5 tons. This iron meteorite, which was found in Oregon, is the largest ever found in the United States and the sixth-largest in the world. The smooth surface melted during its blazing entry into the atmosphere, while the pits formed on the Earth's surface.