Space Center Houston’s spectacular new Mission Mars exhibit showcases an immersive experience about the red planet and offers an opportunity to peer inside an Orion spacecraft research model, stand close to a giant model rocket and walk on a virtual Mars environment. The exposition was designed with input from NASA experts and interactive studio Sila Sveta and unveiled to the world as the Center also kicked off its 25th anniversary year.
“This new major exhibit will inspire the next generation of explorers who could one day walk on Mars,” said William T. Harris, president and CEO of the science and space learning center. “Visitors will explore what it takes to travel to Mars, the hardware that will get us to the fourth planet in our solar system and how humans may live and conduct research on the red planet in future decades.”
Space Center Houston worked closely with NASA in the development of Mission Mars. A stunning 4K technology video by Russian interactive media studio Sila Sveta shows a virtual Mars landscape with rovers exploring the planet, a future rocket launching from Earth and heading for Mars and future astronauts landing. The exhibit puts visitors in the astronaut’s seat of an Orion simulator and allows them to record their own historic messages as they take their first steps on Mars. A collection of three rare Mars meteorites is on display inside the exhibit for a limited time, plus there is a special Mars rock visitors can touch. There are only 60,000 known meteorites on Earth, fewer than 150 are from Mars and most of those are held in private collections.
The future-looking exhibit takes visitors to a Mars landscape and features a look at how Mars and Martians have been illustrated in pop culture; the wealth of potential scientific discoveries to uncover on Mars; the innovation needed to build the most advanced spacecraft; and what returning to earth from deep space involves. Understanding the evolution and formation of Mars is the first step of the journey in the new exhibit. The physical terrain is explored through virtual landscapes provided from an orbiting satellite and surface rovers. The experience allows visitors to leave their footprints on three different types of Mars surfaces, study Olympus Mons, the largest volcano in the solar system, and seek evidence of water and water erosion as keys to finding evidence of possible life on Mars.
“When I found out that I am involved in developing the installation for Space Center Houston, I immediately remembered children’s encyclopaedia, which cultivated my interest in space and the advanced achievements of the humanity long ago,” says Philat Matveev, Art Director at Sila Sveta. “I’ve decided to showcase the data on the latest research of the space program as if it was taken from books and journals about space, by breathing life into the illustrations from them. Hence, our work is easily understandable by people of all ages. To complete the task, we partnered with NASA experts to make everything look authentic from the scientific point of view and bright and colorful from the viewer’s perspective. It was an unforgettable experience for us, and we are very glad that the final result was so well received by the client and the Center’s visitors.”