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Showing blog posts tagged with "Space Exploration"

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Beyond Planet Earth: Starting with Sputnik

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In December 1957, two months after the launch of the Russian satellite Sputnik 1, the first human-made object to enter space and the catalyst for the space race, the Museum published a memo titled “Calling All Scientists,” which observed how the lone satellite had shifted the public appraisal of scientists. “[P]ress people dashed up to the museum to get the Planetarium staff to help them explain to the public what had happened,” the memo read. “The scientists are now being turned to for guidance.”

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, Space Exploration

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Reflections on Space: Liquid Mirror Telescopes in Beyond Planet Earth

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Imagine a mirror as wide as a football field at the South Pole of the Moon. Instead of polished glass, its surface is made of a reflective liquid, which spins in a circle.

Scientists hope to make this vision into a reality one day by using a liquid mirror to build a giant lunar telescope that would allow astronomers to see farther into the universe than ever before. In the Museum’s special exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, visitors can see two liquid mirror telescopes: one featured as part of a Moonscape diorama, the other, an interactive model that can be operated with the push of a button.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, Space Exploration

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Beyond Planet Earth: An Elevator to the Moon

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Below, astrophysicist Michael Shara, who curated the forthcoming exhibition Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, explains how a lunar elevator would work—and why it might inspire a new sport.

We humans are barely toddlers when it comes to space exploration. Our first baby steps off our home planet 50 years ago took us to low Earth orbit. By 1973, 12 intrepid men had walked on the moon’s surface. Since then we have sent robots to every planet in our solar system. The Hubble Space Telescope has shown us that the ordinary matter we are made of comprises only 4 percent of the mass of the universe. The Kepler orbiting telescope has proved that billions of worlds orbit the stars of our Milky Way galaxy. What will we accomplish in space in the coming centuries, as our steps become surer and bolder?

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, Space Exploration

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Chipping Away at the Mystery of Mercury

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After only six months in orbit about Mercury, a NASA spacecraft has collected measurements that have discredited most theories about how our solar system’s innermost planet formed. Data gathered by instruments on MESSENGER reveal that Mercury’s surface has Earth-like levels of potassium and an even higher sulfur abundance, evidence that is at odds with most theories for how the super-dense planet came to be.

Launched in August 2004, MESSENGER stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging. It entered orbit about Mercury—the first spacecraft to do so—in March of this year.

Some of these new findings, published in a set of seven Sciencepapers available online today, were first predicted in 2003 by Denton Ebel, curator in the Museum’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Conel Alexander, a researcher in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. The two scientists recently published a separate paper highlighting their model in Planetary and Space Science.

Tags: Space Exploration

Carnegie Observatories’ Wendy Freedman On Hubble and Size of Universe

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This spring, Director of the Carnegie Observatories Wendy Freedman spoke at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium about astronomer Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the galaxies and the expansion of the universe, how astronomers measure vast distances, and how the Hubble Space Telescope is used to measure the size and age of the universe. Mike Shara, curator in the Department of Astrophysics, sat down with Freedman for an interview in the Hayden Planetarium to discuss the expansion of the universe, dark matter, and building the 25-meter telescope.

Tags: Hayden Planetarium, Space Exploration

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