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Exhibition Guide

Exploring Our Solar System

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Purpose of Exhibition

The first artificial satellite in human history was Sputnik 1 launched in 1957. Since then, a large number of satellites have been launched. In addition, planetary exploration spacecrafts, leaving from the gravisphere of the Earth, have explored the planets, asteroids and comets in the solar system. Thanks to these, we can clearly see from a spacecraft how things are on the surface of a planet, even if it is too far to obesrve it in detail from the Earth. Also the information of inside the planet, such as the strength of gravity, can be observed by looking at the changes in the motion of the spacecraft. Furthermore, by landing on the surface of a planet and exploring rocks and soil samples locally, we can find out more about the history of that planet.
This exhibit introduces the history of planetary exploration for each planet and demonstrates with an exploration vehicle the history, the way, and the difficulity of planetary exploration.

Additional Knowledge

[History of Planetary Exploration]
In 1959, a lunar probe called "Luna 1" was launched by the former Soviet Union and became the first spacecraft to observe an astronomical object other than the earth. A space probe to Venus, "Mariner 2", and to Mars, "Mariner 4", were lounched in 1962 and 1965, and carried out the first observations of those planets. The developments following these launches have been astonishing. The "Voyager 2" launched in 1977, passed close to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and has achieved significant results. Nowadays many spacecrafts have been, and are being sent not only to all of the planets in the solar system but also to asteroids and comets.

[Time Lag in Planetary Exploration]
Since a space probe operates far from the earth, it takes a long time for it to receive commands sent from the Earth. We call this a time lag. When you send signals between Mars and the Earth, even on the day when they are close, it takes about 4 minutes to transmit a signal one way. This means that, we need about 8 to 9 minutes to receive the report and confirm the situation of the probe after we send the command from the Earth. Therefore, the probe itself needs to be able to decide and act on its own in some situation. When the Japanese space probe "Hayabusa" collected rock samples from the asteroid Itokawa, it did this kind of decisions and acted on its own.


【 References 】

Article by Astronomy Section


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