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Windows on Space: Dioramas in Beyond Planet Earth

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BioSuit-DF

In the Mars diorama, an astronaut wearing a pressurized BioSuit™ designed by MIT Professor Dava Newman climbs a Martian rock formation. © AMNH/D. Finnin


The Museum’s dioramas are famous for re-creating real scenes from real places. But how does one create a diorama about places beyond Earth?

The Museum’s Exhibition Department rose to the challenge when producing Beyond Planet Earth: The Future of Space Exploration, the Museum’s latest special exhibition. Throughout the show, visitors encounter a diorama of the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission, landscapes of the Moon and Mars, and a room with a model of a near-Earth asteroid approaching from overhead.

To keep these dioramas accurate even when they represent future possibilities, the Exhibition team focused on the details. The lunar landscape diorama, which immerses visitors in a crater that houses a hypothetical colony, has been crafted according to the best knowledge about the Moon’s environmental hazards. “Since small meteorites will be one of the biggest threats to future Moon explorers, it’s likely that habitations will be built in a crater to shield the colony,” explains Director of Exhibition Design Michael Meister.

The objects that populate the exhibition’s sculpted landscapes add to the sense of realism as well. Like diorama specimens from the field, these objects are intended for the fields to be discovered. In the Mars diorama, an astronaut wearing a pressurized BioSuit™ designed by MIT Professor Dava Newman climbs a Martian rock formation as a haze machine replicates the planet’s dust storms. Before entering the diorama, visitors will be able to see a real piece of hardened lava from Mars that fell to Earth as a meteorite.

Click here to buy tickets to Beyond Planet Earth.

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