Beat Elon Musk to Mars with new exhibition at Carnegie Science Center

click to enlarge A group of young students interacts with a display at Mars: The Next Giant Leap.
Photo: Becky Thurner
Mars: The Next Giant Leap at Carnegie Science Center
For years, tech magnate Elon Musk has foreseen colonizing Mars, even fantasizing that, someday, he would die on the Red Planet. For now, though, Musk has his hands full managing his takeover of the social media platform Twitter, making a Mars excursion in the near future seem less likely.

For science and space nerds in Pittsburgh, Mars has come to them through a new exhibit at the Carnegie Science Center.

On Sat., Nov. 19, the interactive museum will debut Mars: The Next Giant Leap, a major, permanent exhibition described in a statement as being led by the guiding principle that “Space is for everyone." The 7,400-square-foot, $4.44 million "groundbreaking" exhibition and its supporting programs promise to explore "how the issues of sustainability, climate change, social justice, and equitable access to resources can shape humanity’s future and visitors will discover how space research is already providing new insights and tools to address these issues."

Presented by the PNC Foundation and the Howmet Aerospace Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based organization that develops technology essential to space travel and other industries, the exhibit features interactive elements that look at the reality of galactic exploration and life on Mars. It will also offer an array of camps, classes, assembly programs, workshops, and other programming designed to ready young people for careers in the growing field of space exploration.

"Creating a better future on Mars and on Earth requires including many different voices in the conversation, and Mars: The Next Giant Leap takes visitors on a journey to Mars to discover and shape how space exploration and sustaining life on another planet can improve how we exist on Earth today," the statement reads.
click to enlarge A young Black girl and an older Black man smile as they interact with a display at Mars: The Next Giant Leap.
Photo: Becky Thurner
Mars: The Next Giant Leap at Carnegie Science Center
Those "many different voices" included input from local high school students, as well as community members, experts in the space industry, and Carnegie Science Center staff.

“Guidance from local students helped us realize that what makes space exploration relevant to our community is ultimately the same set of issues as those we face on Earth today,” says Jason Brown, the Henry Buhl, Jr. director of Carnegie Science Center, in a press release. “As you walk through the exhibition, you will be challenged to ask questions about what makes a community thrive, how our lives are shaped by our environments, and how exploring Mars will impact life on Earth.”

The exhibit marks the second large-scale effort to build Pittsburgh up as an emerging hub for the "growing space economy." In October, the city welcomed the Moonshot Museum, a project described as Pennsylvania’s first space museum and the "first museum in the world to focus on career readiness for the contemporary space industry.”

For Carnegie Science Center, the mission of Mars: The Next Giant Leap will focus on creating an inclusive vision for space travel.

“Above all, this exhibition demonstrates that space can be accessible to anyone who wants it. It takes more than rocket scientists to explore other planets," says Brown. "It takes artists and welders, marketers, and accountants. There is room for everyone."

Mars: The Next Giant Leap. Opens Sat., Nov. 19. Carnegie Science Center. One Allegheny Ave., North Side. Included with museum admission. carnegiesciencecenter.org