Monday, July 11, 2011

Adler Planetarium Unveils the Highly-Anticipated Grainger Sky Theater

On Friday, July 8, the Adler Planetarium revealed a new, immersive space experience like no other in the world! Deep Space Adventure takes visitors aboard the observation deck of a futuristic starship where they will be surrounded by the larger-than-life phenomena of our dynamic Universe.
Adler President Paul H. Knappenberger, Jr. prepares to open the new Deep Space Adventure
The centerpiece of Deep Space Adventure is the Grainger Sky Theater, which offers audiences the most immersive, technologically advanced theater experience ever developed. Visitors become space adventurers and set off on a journey to discover our Universe in a way never done before. The theater was specifically designed with leading-edge technologies that enable visitors to explore space as if they were there.The Grainger Sky Theater will project the largest single seamless digital image in the world with an ultra high definition screen resolution of more than 8k x 8k pixels. This far surpasses the cinematic standard of 2k x 4k pixels, presenting a level of realism that can only be surpassed by actual space travel.

Vivid images of planets, stars, galaxies and other celestial objects are shown in the highest resolution and quality possible to evoke the feeling of being in deep space. The on-screen imagery will expand beyond the traditional 180-degree dome and surround the visitor. Special lighting effects in the floor complete the 360-degree experience.


“Deep Space Adventure is a revolutionary way to explore the Universe,” said Paul H. Knappenberger Jr., PhD, president of the Adler Planetarium. “Using the most advanced technology available in our completely transformed Grainger Sky Theater, and partnering with leading scientists, engineers and designers, we have created a thrilling adventure to inspire visitors of all ages. Whether you are a novice or veteran space explorer, the Adler’s goal is to stimulate your curiosity and motivate further discovery. We invite you to be the first explorers to join us on this maiden voyage to deep space.”


Clark Family Welcome Gallery
Visitors begin their Deep Space Adventure in the Clark Family Welcome Gallery. Multimedia interactive exhibits feature greetings from some of today’s prominent space explorers who have personal ties to Chicago. They will prepare museum visitors to explore space by encouraging them to ask intriguing questions and build exploration skills. The out-of-this-world gallery features futuristic architecture, colorful lights and video presentations, creating a dynamic and constantly changing environment.


The Grainger Sky Theater
The adventure continues as visitors are drawn through a space portal to the new Grainger Sky Theater. Fashioned as the observation deck of a starship, the theater invites visitors to come aboard for the ultimate journey into deep space. Prepare for lift off as your adventure continues in the Grainger Sky Theater’s premiere show. Featuring scientific simulations from the most powerful supercomputers, and observations from the most advanced telescopes in existence, breathtaking visualizations capture the audience’s imagination and bring you up close to the action. Watch as a star is torn apart by a black hole; witness the collision of two massive galaxies; view the formation of the large-scale structure of the Universe; and encounter a dramatic supernova explosion.


“The theater technology and computational power used to store and access celestial images differentiates Deep Space Adventure from anything out there,” said Doug Roberts, PhD, Adler chief technology officer and project director for the new Grainger Sky Theater. “Using 20 separate projectors - powered by 45 computers - to create one seamless image is unprecedented. With the ability to create and present scientific data using images that are as good as the human eye can perceive, Adler visitors can explore deep space as if they were there.”

Exhibitions
Once they return to Earth, visitors continue their exploration in the Adler’s exhibition galleries and other theaters. Building on information introduced in the show, visitors can discover more about the Universe and the science behind the mesmerizing simulations featured in Deep Space Adventure. In a new exhibition opening on July 8, Gravity Shapes the Universe, visitors will learn about gravity on Earth, in space and in extreme situations, like a black hole.

Science Content and Visualization Partners
The production of Deep Space Adventure was a collaborative effort between the Adler Planetarium and leading scientists and visualizers. This unique partnership created an experience heretofore unavailable to the public. Some of the science, simulation and visualization partners include: the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (Lead Visualization Partner); the University of California Santa Cruz; the Data Analysis and Visualization team in the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at NASA Ames Research Center; New Mexico State University; and the Astrophysics Institute Potsdam.