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Erica Hupp/Dwayne Brown
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-1237/1726

Michael Walker
American Museum of Natural History, N.Y.
(212) 769-5766

March 15, 2006
 
RELEASE : 06-093
 
 
NASA and New York City Museum Bring Universe Down to Earth
 
 
The American Museum of Natural History in New York City, in collaboration with NASA, debuts Cosmic Collisions this week. The newest planetarium dome show transports audiences through time and space to view the evolving universe and witness galactic events that changed the course of life on Earth.

Narrated by actor, director and producer Robert Redford, the planetarium show incorporates NASA satellite data, cutting-edge astrophysics research and state-of-the-art supercomputing. The show features breathtaking life-like animation, images and dramatic recreations of interstellar events. NASA scientists were involved in the production of the film providing technical and scientific expertise.

"This show will provide audiences perspectives on the challenges of exploring the universe beyond our planet, as we move forward with the commitment to exploration and discovery in implementing America's Vision for Space Exploration," said NASA's Chief of Strategic Communications Joe Davis.

The Vision for Space Exploration is a bold new course into the cosmos, a journey that will return the space shuttle safely to flight, complete the construction of the International Space Station, take humans back to the moon and eventually to Mars and beyond.

Cosmic Collisions presents a view of the universe different from our everyday experience watching the peaceful night sky. Collisions are commonplace in space and are understood as a key mechanism in the evolution of the universe. They are the inevitable result of gravity pulling together objects such as planets, stars, and galaxies, in constant motion through space.

The show recreates encounters usually invisible to humankind. Events unfold over incredibly vast expanses, spanning billions of years and trillions of miles. Events also occur almost instantaneously on a subatomic scale as in the collision of protons in the heart of the sun.

Cosmic Collisions highlights catastrophic planetary impacts and merging of massive galaxies. The show also outlines the consequences of the sun's magnetic variability and the incessant barrage of small ionized particles in the solar wind ricocheting off Earth's magnetic field creating other worldly conditions called "space weather".

Programs in NASA's Heliophysics Division observe the complex phenomena associated with space weather by studying and understanding the fundamental physical processes of the space environment, from the sun to Earth, to other planets, and beyond to the interstellar medium. The division also provided funding and scientific coordination for the show.

"Information compiled within this office not only helps us understand how our planet's habitability are affected by cosmic events, but also provides knowledge essential for future human and robotic exploration," said Richard Fisher, director, Heliophysics Division.

To perform the enormously complex calculations and render the scenes of interstellar collisions, the space show's production team relied on an array of graphic workstations, using hundreds of processors to create the graphic images, and a state-of-the art system to view the high-resolution graphic images on the Hayden planetarium dome.

For a short preview of Cosmic Collisions on the Web, visit:

www.amnh.org/cosmic



For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/home

 

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