Voyage National Program
A program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, and Exhibitology
In October 2001 a 1 to 10-billion scale model of the Solar System was permanently installed on the National Mall in Washington, DC, between the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument. Located along a 2,000-foot path in front of the Smithsonian Institution – from the National Air and Space Museum to the Smithsonian Castle – 13 stanchions allow the visitor to explore the Solar System from the Sun out to the dwarf planet Pluto.
Appropriately called Voyage, the exhibition allows visitors to leave our Earth and gain a profound conceptual understanding of humanity’s place in a greater space, in a way that only a scale model of the Solar System can convey. Approved by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission for placement on this reverential ground, the commissioners also recognized a deeper objective – Voyage would celebrate our remarkable capacity as a race of explorers to decipher our place in space, and through scientific inquiry, reveal the majesty of the universe. They viewed this as a story that would captivate young and old, appeal to the millions of annual international visitors to the National Mall from across the planet, and inspire a new generation to find their way to the frontiers of human exploration – so they may continue the voyage.
Given the story of our existence knows no national boundaries, Voyage on the National Mall was designed for replication and permanent placement at 100 sites across the U.S. and around the world. The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education has therefore established the Voyage National Program to realize that intent, and bring this experience to communities across the U.S. In 2021, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education will launch the Voyage International Program to extend the opportunity to communities everywhere.
Through these programs we want to invite your community to take this voyage with us. Consider permanently installing a Voyage in your local park, along a walking path, on a college campus, or along a downtown street, and putting this exhibition to work as a community focal point for STEM education – for students, families and the general public. The exhibition is ADA compliant, and tactile elements on the storyboards allow the blind and vision impaired to have as rich an experience as other visitors. A tour brochure promotes self-guided inquiry-based exploration of the Solar System, and online content resources for both teachers and parents extend the Voyage experience beyond the exhibition site. A grade K-12 curriculum on Solar System science allows a visit to Voyage to be placed in the context of a multi-week classroom unit on the Solar System. This is also an invitation to become part of a network of Voyage Communities, all sharing a common heritage of Voyage on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
We all share this world, are charged with its stewardship, and through education believe that it should be the birthright of all our children to understand the story of our existence. We invite you to take a Voyage that will forever change your perspective of home.
I say!” murmured Horton. I’ve never heard tell
Of a small speck of dust that is able to yell.
So you know what I think?… Why I think that there must
Be someone on top of that small speck of dust!
Some sort of creature of very small size,
Too small to be seen by an elephant’s eyes…
—Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!, 1954.
To explore this opportunity for your community, visit the pages on this website, and if interested Contact Us.
Our World From Space
The Center and Institute also oversee the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), a model STEM initiative that immerses hundreds of students across a community in an authentic research program on the high frontier. Students in each participating community design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low-Earth orbit on the International Space Station (ISS). In each community one of the student proposed experiments is selected to launch on a SpaceX rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and be transported to ISS where it is operated by the astronauts. SSEP is a high caliber, high visibility initiative that is garnering significant media coverage, was showcased in Scientific American, and embraces a community engagement model for STEM education. It is an opportunity for a school district to truly become part of America’s and Canada’s space programs. You’re invited to explore this opportunity with us as well.
It is noteworthy that SSEP flight experiments are selected by a review board convened at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the site of Voyage on the National Mall. It is also noteworthy that the International Space Station is an extraordinary platform from which to view our world from space, a perspective that is central to the intent of Voyage. It is therefore fitting that on this website, dedicated to the human act of voyage, that we provide you views of your world from space – live from the ISS. Using the toggles below, take a voyage 260 miles above Earth’s surface … and look down in awe.
The ISS Current Location tracker above was developed by the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA’s Columbus laboratory is a component of the ISS. Visit the ESA website for more information on the tracker.
This high definition video of your world is being telemetered to Earth LIVE from the International Space Station. To determine what portion of Earth is in view, use the ‘ISS Current Location’ toggle above. We invite you to get into the spirit of exploration on the frontiers of space – select an audio file below, expand the HDEV video window to full screen, and look down from 250 miles above Earth’s surface. Suggestions for other audio tracks are welcome:)
David Bowie’s Space Oddity, sung by Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield on ISS (watch his video)
Star Trek TNG
About HDEV, from NASA: The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment aboard the ISS was activated April 30, 2014. It is mounted on the External Payload Facility of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module. HDEV includes four fixed cameras positioned to capture imagery of the Earth’s surface and its limb as seen from the ISS – one camera pointing in the direction the station is moving, two cameras aft (wake), and one camera pointing straight down at Earth (nadir). While the experiment is operational, views will typically sequence though the different cameras. Between camera switches, a gray and then black color slate will briefly appear. To learn more about the HDEV experiment, visit this NASA webpage.
In late 2015, the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education suggested to NASA Headquarters that a Spot the Station widget, which could be easily embedded on any website, would be a wonderful way to extend ISS public awareness. The widget below was the result, and you’ll note that it is also found in the right column on all main pages of this SSEP website.
You are invited to use the widget to explore Station over-flights of your community, and even embed this widget on your website by clicking on the “About” button in the widget.