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Space science—science performed from vehicles that travel into Earth's upper atmosphere or beyond—covers a broad range of disciplines, from meteorology and geology, to lunar, solar, and planetary science, to astronomy and astrophysics, to the life sciences.
A relatively young field, space science blossomed in the latter half of the 20th century, so the Museum's collection focuses mainly on that period, and especially on objects flown in the atmosphere or in space. The space science objects on display include vehicles (balloons, sounding rockets, satellites, space probes, orbiters, landers), the scientific instruments they carried, and ground-based instruments or other examples of technology that support space science or illuminate its development, nature, or history.