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The Laboratory for Astrophysics (LfA) at the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) is proposing a new exhibit: an outdoor model of the Solar System on the National Mall, dedicated to the Spirit of Human Exploration. At one ten- billionth of the size of the actual Solar System, the model would provide a unique educational tool to illustrate the vast distances that characterize our local corner of the universe. Mounted on pedestals along a gravel walkway between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument for 0.6 kilometers (an easy walk for over 10 million visitors a year), plaques would tactilely depict the scaled sizes and distances of the Sun, the planets, and their larger satellites in polished bronze. Porcelain enamel insets in the bronze would display color photographs, language-independent educational pictograms, and an international pictoral listing of spacecraft that have visited these bodies. Designed for a multi-cultural audience of varied ages and educational backgrounds, and with easy access to persons with disabilities, the model would celebrate humanity's long and ongoing relationship with Earth's nearest neighbors. Ideally, this exhibit will be supported by teacher-activity packets, self-guided tours, exportable models, computer software, and multi-lingual audio programs.
This proposal is being partially funded by the NASA Solar Systems division.
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