As part of the National Air and Space Museum’s major project to transform all its exhibitions, the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploring the Planets Gallery, planned to open next year, will showcase the stories of these beautiful worlds and how they have been explored. The previous Planets gallery, long a visitor favorite, gave a planet-by-planet presentation, but the new gallery will be reorganized to reflect the more recent understanding that our solar system contains three groups of worlds: giant planets, terrestrial planets, and small icy/rocky bodies. Visitors entering the gallery will travel a perhaps unexpected path. Unlike most presentations on planets, this new exhibition creates a journey that moves from the outside in, starting beyond our solar system and taking visitors from the dark and icy outer belts where fascinating Pluto resides to the stunning giant worlds to the inner rocky worlds nearer to the sun. Along the way are images of these worlds and the features and processes that form them. The different exhibit units are arranged around a central immersive environment, called “Walking on Other Worlds,” where visitors will be surrounded with landscapes from worlds spacecraft or humans have landed on. These visualizations are based on real data. Visitors will hear, for example, the actual sounds of wind on Mars recorded by the Perseverance Rover.
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