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NASA and N.Y.C. Museum Bring Universe Down to Earth


> March 15, 2006
> Erica Hupp/Dwayne Brown 
> Headquarters, Washington 
> (202) 358-1237/1726 
> Michael Walker 
> American Museum of Natural History, N.Y. 
> (212) 769-5766 
> 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 
> -end-
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