Thanks to the hard work from Clark Planetarium’s education department, we have two new additions to our free exhibits. The first is a full size model of a Mars Exploration Rover. The second, a 24 inch plasma ball, is similar to the one in the old Hansen Planetarium.
The Mars Exploration Rover came from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. This full scale model is an example of current technology that has been exploring Mars since 2004. When two of these golf cart sized robotic rovers originally landed nearly eight years ago, they were only supposed to complete a 90 day mission. They both lasted longer than expected. In fact, the rover known as “Opportunity” is still exploring Martian terrain and increasing our knowledge of Mars.
For the first time in it’s history, Clark Planetarium, has a plasma ball. Visitors may remember the plasma ball that used to grace the floor of the old Hansen Planetarium nearly a decade ago. A new generation of children and adults can place their hands on the ball and watch science happen at the touch of a finger. The plasma globe contains Neon and Xenon gas under very low pressure. A high frequency transformer increases the voltage from 110 V to several thousand volts. The purple/pink plasma will follow your hand because your body provides a path for the energy from the ball to the ground.
The next time you’re in the area swing by and see these new exhibits. Clark Planetarium’s exhibit are always free. For hours of operation please click here.