Imagination Station to offer NASA's New Views of the Universe exhibition

Sep 24, 2010 By Lynn Chandler

NASA’s traveling museum exhibition, New Views of the Universe, featuring the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes, opens at Imagination Station museum in Toledo this Friday, Sept. 24.

The exhibit will be open to the public for several months from September 24, 2010 to January 2, 2011. Showcasing dazzling deep-space discoveries of the world’s most powerful , the exhibit will immerse visitors in the mystery and magnificence of the mission and introduce them to Hubble’s successor, the .

"Imagination Station is a science center dedicated to inspiring in children the wonder of science," said Anna Kolin, Communications and Public Relations Manager for the museum. "We're thrilled to be offering our community the opportunity to see Hubble's legacy and what the future holds for space exploration with the James Webb Space Telescope."

The 2,000 square-foot exhibit immerses visitors in the magnificence and mystery of the Hubble mission and introduces the James Webb Space Telescope. A scale model of the Hubble is the focal point of the installation. "Satellite" units incorporate hands-on activities about how the telescope works, and feature Hubble's contributions to the exploration of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe.

The exhibit contains images and data taken by Hubble of planets, galaxies, regions around black holes, and many other fascinating cosmic entities. The exhibit is comprised of backlit color images and numerous interactive displays. Using a computer, visitors will be able to "hit" Jupiter with a comet and attempt to put star clusters in order of age. Using an infrared camera, visitors can also learn about the different wavelengths of light by taking pictures of their hand in visible and infrared light.

Visitors will learn about the James Webb Space Telescope, the next-generation premier , exploring deep space phenomena from distant galaxies to nearby planets and stars. The Webb Telescope will give scientists clues about the formation of the universe and the evolution of our own solar system, from the first light after the Big Bang to the formation of star systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth.

Through computer games, videos and displays, visitors will also be able to experience how the Webb telescope will work. Visitors will learn about the cutting-edge technology of the Webb telescope like one that will see the universe in infrared light. All the new technology will enable scientists to see far back in time to when galaxies first formed and make many scientific breakthroughs.

Several interactive games are also featured in the exhibit. You can step through distances in the universe with the "Cosmic Distance Scale"; and "Scope it Out!" teaches players about two different types of telescopes and shows how the Webb telescope is similar, yet different than other telescopes.

One display will offer a comparison between the Hubble and the Webb telescope. One eye-catching thing is the difference in the size of the mirrors on the Webb, versus the Hubble. Webb will have a much larger mirror, which means it will have excellent resolution. The completed primary mirror will be 6.6 meters (7.2 yards) in diameter, about 2.75 times larger than the Hubble's primary mirror, which is 2.4 meters (2.6 yards) in diameter.

Viewers will learn about the engineering challenges of the mission, such as folding the telescope up in the rocket for launch, and unfolding it once deployed in space. The exhibit is also available on-line at the Webb telescope web site.

The Hubble traveling exhibit was developed by the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service. This traveling exhibition is available from the Hubble Project Office at NASA Goddard.

The Imagination Station, located on the downtown Toledo riverfront, is a science center dedicated to delivering science and technology based programming to youth and their families throughout Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. All activities are included in the cost of admission. Imagination Station is located at One Discovery Way, Toledo, Ohio, 43604. For more information, please call 419-244-2674 or visit imaginationstationtoledo.org.

The Webb telescope project is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

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