I recently spent an absolutely fascinating afternoon at the ASU Gallery of Scientific Exploration. The Gallery is geared to educating the public about the wonders of earth and space science through digital media, interactive displays and public lectures presented in a high-definition theater. There are also glass-enclosed research laboratories that allow visitors to see scientists at work.
One of the exhibits is a model of the Mars rover Curiosity. It’s located in the lobby and is one of the first things you see when you enter the Gallery. Another cool exhibit is EarthScope which has to do with earthquakes. It has you jump to create your own earthquake. There were eight of us in our group and when we all jumped together we created quite a sizable bump in activity on the exhibit’s seismograph.
On the second floor there’s a terrific display of meteorites of variety shapes and sizes from little itty-bitty to large. They’ve been gathered from sights around the world and are part of ASU’s extensive meteorite collection. This exhibit was especially interesting to me in light of the recent news of the meteorite that came close to the earth and the one that actually crashed into Russia.
As interesting as all of the exhibits were, my favorite was the amazing 3-D planetarium-style show in the Marston Exploration Theater. It’s nothing like the planetarium you may have experienced where you sit in a domed theater and look up at projected images of the heavens. The Marston Exploration Theater resembles an IMAX theater with amphitheater seating and 3-D images projected onto a huge screen at the front. As you enter the theater, you pick up a pair of 3-D glasses.
There are two shows to choose from. To the Edge of the Universe and Everything in Between is a live, narrated journey from earth to the cosmic background radiation. Undiscovered Worlds explores discoveries and current research of Exoplanets (worlds beyond the Solar System). I saw the former and loved it. The show starts in earth’s orbit, but gradually pulls further and further away until the earth is just a speck and then it’s gone and you’re somewhere else in our galaxy or others. Thanks to the 3-D stereographic vision I actually felt like I was enveloped in space. Our narrator explained what we were experiencing in very understandable language, although, I admit, much of it was beyond my universe of understanding. However it was still interesting and so stunning it didn’t matter that I didn’t grasp everything.
When it was time to return to earth, our narrator stopped talking so that we could enjoy the trip through space all on our own. He said that this was everyone’s favorite part and it sure was for me. Honestly, it was just splendid sitting there drifting back through space to the marvelous big blue marble. I was completely immersed in this wonderful 3-D experience. The whole show was great and truly a mesmerizing experience of cosmic proportions.
The Gallery of Scientific Exploration and Marsten Exploration Theater shows should be on everyone’s list of cool things to do this summer. Both are located at ASU Tempe campus in the Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. year-round and also on Saturday when Marsten Exploration Theater shows are taking place. The Marsten Exploration Theater shows will continue through the summer on Wednesday and Saturday, but be sure to check the website or call 480-965-6891 for show times. Tickets are $7.50 for adults and $5.50 for students and may be purchased online or at the door. Parking is convenient at the Rural Road parking structure which is the closest parking to ISTB 4. Rates for visitor lots are $3 per hour during the week and free on weekends.