Lowell Observatory’s Mars exhibit, “A New Perspective on Mars: The Red Planet in 3D,” began in October and was set to end January 13. As of October, more than two million people have viewed this powerful 3-D exhibit at the observatory, located in central Flagstaff on Mars Hill. So due to popular demand, the stunning exhibit has been extended to Sunday, February 24.
Created and constructed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the exhibit features large 3-D topographical images of the surface of Mars. The European spacecraft called the Mars Express has been orbiting the planet since 2004, equipped with a German-made High Resolution Stereo Camera (HSRC). The images the Express has captured over the years have provided essential, invaluable information regarding the geological evolution of the Red Planet. The exhibit and tour guides at Lowell explain some of the recent discoveries the camera has made.
For instance, the HSRC has found erosion patterns that suggest glaciers once moved across the surface, and networks of valleys indicate that water once flowed from rainwater or glacial meltwater. These findings are remarkable, considering the fact that Mars’ current high temperatures prevent water from existing there now. Researchers are analyzing the images to identify how much water flowed over Mars and when, which would provide a much better idea of the history of the planet. Further study also suggests that volcanic activity could still occur there. On DLR’s Mars Express site, photos of these features and many others, including Mars’ moon, Phobos, can be found. There is also a breathtaking animated movie based on 3-D images taken of the Valles Marineris, which flies the viewer among mountain peaks and valleys.
The incredible detail of the pictures makes viewers feel like they are actually touching the surface of Mars. Lowell Observatory has a long history of astronomical research and discovery. Established in 1894, Lowell was the site where galactic redshifts were first observed, Mars’ canals were first sketched, and where Pluto was discovered. It boasts the 6,500 square foot Steele Visitor Center, featuring multimedia shows, presentations and a portable 3-D planetarium. Visitors can look through the original telescopes that were used to make significant breakthroughs in the field of astronomy and learn about the new Discovery Channel Telescope, located nearby.
When visiting, remember that Lowell is situated at 7,200 feet, so bring plenty of water and dress in layers. Because the observatory is only one mile west of Downtown Flagstaff, the two-hour trip from Phoenix provides the perfect opportunity for an educational day trip. While there, make sure to stop by the Starry Skies Shop and check out some of the upcoming events at the Observatory, including Uncle Percy’s Tykes Camp, a day camp meeting once a month where kids can build, learn, play and observe through science.
“A New Perspective on Mars: The Red Planet in 3D”
Mon., Wed., Fri., Sat.: Noon – 9:30 p.m.
Tues., Thurs., Sun.: Noon – 5 p.m.
Where: 1400 W. Mars Hill Rd., Flagstaff
Seniors, AAA, college students: $10
Kids 5-17: $5
Kids under 5: Free
Admission covers all programs; no reservations necessary
Contact: (928) 774-3358
Groups and private viewing: Mary DeMuth (928) 233-3235
Lowell Observatory’s website | Mars Express site