Earth to Mars

Blast off to Mars in this stellar new exhibit at a Texas science museum

Blast to Mars in this stellar new exhibit at a Texas science museum

Mars by Luke Jerram
Experience life on the Red Planet in this new exhibition. Photo courtesy of the Houston Museum of Natural Science

Given the state of the world in 2020, one couldn’t be blamed for fantasizing about life on another planet. Fortunately, a new exhibit debuting in Texas will jet locals out of this world to the fourth planet from the sun — without having to deal with weird suits, space travel, or Elon Musk.

The new, stellar exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, dubbed “Mars by Luke Jerram,” will transport viewers to the Red Planet via a 23-foot, internally lit globe of Mars suspended above their heads. “Mars” opened on July 1 and runs through October 7.

The exhibit centers on Martian topographic features and details the history of Mars exploration with rovers and landers, according to a press release. Guests will also learn about scientists’ search for water (and life) on the Red Planet and the future of human exploration of the planet.

"Mars" boasts 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the Martian surface compiled from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter data. The sculpture lets viewers see our neighboring planet in exquisite detail, floating in three dimensions. At an approximate scale of 1:1 million, each centimeter of the internally lit spherical sculpture represents 10 kilometers of the Martian surface.

British artist Luke Jerram is no stranger to the Houston museum, as it also has showcased his similar "Moon" and "Earth" floating sculptures. Almost harking to the movie The Martian, this exhibition will also feature a living Martian garden, showcasing plants growing side-by-side in Earth and Martian soil.

“Our Mars Farmers show the successes and failures of Earth plants growing in simulated Mars soil,” said vice president of astronomy at HMNS and exhibit curator Carolyn Sumners in a statement. “We already have our first Mars tomato!” (Eat your heart out, Matt Damon.)

Guests can also spot distinctive Martian features, like craters, canyons, and rover landing sites, and learn about the future of space exploration. The artwork transports viewers to this desert wasteland, to imagine what life is like on a planet with blue sunsets.

“Landers and rovers have made Mars a real world with hills, valleys, volcanoes, and weather,” Summers noted. “We can imagine living there.”

And given this crazy year, that doesn’t sound so bad.

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“Mars by Luke Jerram” runs July 1 through October 7 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science; 5555 Hermann Park Dr., Houston. For tickets and more information, visit the museum online.