Here Through August

Comets, Asteroids, Meteors Origins of Our Solar System
The Story of Asteroids & Comets Impacts & Risk


The threat of a catastrophic impact from an asteroid or comet is a staple of popular culture. If there was a dinosaur killer in Earth’s past, is there a human killer in our future?
What are the chances and how do we assess the risks? For that matter, what are asteroids, comets, and meteorites, and where do they come from? The Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning, with funding from the National Science Foundation and NASA, has developed a national traveling exhibition program called Great Balls of Fire: Comets, Asteroids, and Meteors. The project includes exhibits (3,500 sq. ft.), and an education program for museum educators and docents.

Exhibit includes:

  • Climb into a “spaceship” and blast off to the asteroid belt and Jupiter, on a mission to gather data
    about asteroids and comets. 
  • Operate a blink comparator device to understand one of the tools astronomers use to find Near Earth Objects.
  • Learn how scientists use light curves to determine the shape and movement of asteroids.
  • Save Earth and learn about gravity by trying to divert a “rubble pile” asteroid from impacting our planet.
  • Shoot a projectile into a water tank and use a Spin Browser device to manipulate high speed
    video of your impact.
  • Examine a collection of rocks and use a series of tests (magnetism, color, density) to determine
    which one is a meteorite (or meteor-wrong).
  • View clips from Hollywood movies and determine if they got the science right.
  • Build their own solar system, including asteroid belts and comets, using a 42” touch-table display.