This section describes what early civilizations knew about our solar system
and how astronomy developed over the centuries. The early theories describing
the movements of the planets, development of the first telescopes, and discoveries
of the planets Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are some of the topics addressed
in Discovery. Here you will find the Pluto discovery plate, the photographic
plate taken the day Pluto's position was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh.
Here, you will learn about the tools used for past, present and future exploration.
Learn about the Surveyor spacecraft, five of which landed on the Moon between
June 2, 1966, and January 10, 1968. The Surveyor
3 television camera is on display. Also on display are an Apollo 13 rock
box used to carry samples back from the moon. This exhibit covers Earth-based
telescopes through interplanetary probes and links to many more tools of exploration
that are on display throughout the museum.
See just how big each planet and its major satellites are relative to each
other in the scale model of the Solar System. See where the planets
are in relation to the Sun and to each other and learn just how big the Sun
is compared to all the planets in our Solar System.
"Family of the
Sun" Families will enjoy this display, consisting of the "Family of
The Sun" song (sung to the music of "Farmer in The Dell")
The physical exhibit in the museum includes children's art displayed
around monitors with images that go along with the song.
Each planet has an individual online section that gives
an overview of what has been learned through imagery and data obtained from
Earth-based and spacecraft exploration.
In 1976 we landed two Viking spacecraft on Mars. This exhibit
gives an overview of the Viking missions and highlights the major
findings. Viking 1 now belongs to the National Air and Space Museum;
a plaque renaming the spacecraft the Thomas A. Mutch Memorial Station
is on display with a Viking
Lander in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall. The Mars Pathfinder mission has paved the way for a new
age of Mars exploration. Find out what we know and what we are planning
to learn about the red planet.
What do asteroids look like? Where are they? What is a Near Earth
Asteroid and how close is too close? Find the answers to these
questions and more.
The outer planets were first explored with Pioneer
and Voyager spacecraft. Current spacecraft missions are exploring
Jupiter and Saturn. Pluto and it's satellite Charon, which have
never been visited by a spacecraft, are next. What do we know
so far about the outer planets? Choose one and find out.
The full-scale engineering test model of the
Voyager spacecraft displayed in
the Exploring the Planets gallery is similar to the two Voyagers sent
to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.
This portion of the exhibit details the Voyager missions, the spacecraft
and its instruments. The Voyager spacecraft hangs above the outer planets
wall displaying images and information on the major discoveries made by Voyager
1 and 2.
This portion of the exhibit traces the study of comets from the earliest
historical observation to the massive international Halley's Comet Watch.
The impact of Comet Shoemaker-levy with the planet Jupiter became the first
collision between two objects ever observed. Find out what comets are made
of and where they come from.
Which planets have volcanoes? Which planets have water? Find out how the
planets are similar and how they are different based on what we have learned
about thier features.
The gallery's newest interactive. Visitors can test their knowledge of the
solar system with this interactive space quiz. The Best
of The Solar System activity was designed as a curriculum package for
students to study the planets the way scientists do.