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If You Could Travel to Mars, Would You Go?
Date:5/27/2009

The Health Museum in Houston, Texas to be Site of Facing Mars' U.S. Premiere

HOUSTON, May 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On May 30, 2009, the John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science, also called The Health Museum, will launch the U.S. premiere of Facing Mars. The exhibit features interactive stations that encourage visitors to "walk on Mars," test and launch rockets, "fly over" the Martian landscape and consider the implications humans face in their quest to reach the Red Planet. Facing Mars will be on display through September 7.

This innovative exhibit focuses on the real challenges of sending human explorers to Mars. With more than 28 experiences, Facing Mars combines a range of hands-on experiences with compelling artifacts, such as a rare Mars meteorite from West Africa and stunning imagery to engage participants in the physical, psychological and scientific challenges involved in journeying to Mars.

"How many of us have wondered what it would be like to travel in space? Facing Mars gives our visitors the opportunity to explore the many challenges that confront us when we set out to travel to another planet," said Jon Iszard, President and CEO of The Health Museum.

Facing Mars addresses questions such as: "What happens to your face in space?", "How can you protect astronauts from cosmic rays and solar radiation?" and "Who would you choose for a Mars crew?" Visitors become a rocket scientist for the day and explore the challenges of aerodynamic stability. They experience what it is like "to walk on Mars" at a station that subtracts 60 percent of their weight to simulate Martian gravity. Visitors also explore some of the potential psychological and emotional stresses that astronauts may face on their journey, examining how contagious emotions can be and discovering where their own personal space threshold lies.

"The passion and curiosity of the engineers and scientists who contributed to Facing Mars, including many who are a part of NASA and the Johnson Space Center, give a tremendous boost to this exhibit. Learning about the attempts to understand both Mars and the challenges that long duration space flights represent is truly fascinating, and really adds to the experience of the exhibit," said Phil Lindsey, Vice President of Exhibits and Business Development at The Health Museum.

Visitors will take the spotlight in this monochromatic environment, reflecting the fact that the greatest challenges in the journey to Mars are human ones. Through the creative use of lighting and sensory cues, visitors will place themselves in the roles of astronauts confronting the various challenges of exploring Mars.

When visitors arrive at the exhibit's entrance they will be asked the seemingly simple question "Would You Go To Mars?" and their responses will be digitally counted as they enter through a YES or NO gate. At the exhibit's exit, the question is repeated: "Would You Still Go to Mars?" - this time eliciting from visitors a more reflective answer. In challenging visitors to bring their own perspectives to the human toll of long space voyages as well as engaging them in the complex engineering and science involved, Facing Mars will take visitors on an inspiring personal, practical and philosophical voyage of discovery.

Facing Mars was developed by the Ontario Science Center and is sponsored locally by Southwest Airlines.

ABOUT THE HEALTH MUSEUM

The John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science, also known as The Health Museum, is a member institution of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center and is located in the heart of Houston's Museum District at 1515 Hermann Drive Houston, TX 77004. Recent additions to the museum include You: The Exhibit, a highly interactive look at the physical, psychological and future you, and the McGovern 4D Theater, Houston's only 4D theater, where 3D films and environmental effects like wind, rain, fog and lightning combine to create a memorable experience.

Summer hours for the museum are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. General Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children ages 3-12 and senior adults. Museum members and children two years of age and under are admitted free. Group discount rates and school field trip information are available by calling 713-521-1515, ext. 121. For information about the Museum or its programs, please call 713-521-1515 or visit www.thehealthmuseum.org.

The John P. McGovern Museum of Health and Medical Science is an interactive and entertaining science experience for all ages that promotes understanding and appreciation of the human body, mind and spirit and inspires a lifelong commitment to health and wellness.


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