NASA Ames Exploration Center – Free Admission
The NASA Ames Exploration Center, where visitors can experience NASA technology and missions first hand is open to the public at no charge. Located at the main gate to NASA Ames at Moffett Field just off US 101. Exhibits and things to do include a real moon rock, the Immersive Theater and info on Ames Spacecraft missions. Visit their site for more information about current exhibitions. Admission is always free.
Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Open Saturday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed on Federal Holidays as well as the following dates: July 5 & November 29
While you shop, enjoy some artifacts from NASA’s rich history. Current displays include:
- Pioneer and other satellite models: Some of the very first solar system exploration satellites were the Pioneer missions, many of which were based at NASA’s Ames Research Center. This exhibit features models of these historic satellites and features more current missions on a rotating basis.
- Mercury Redstone capsule: Before our first human spaceflight mission, NASA tested a number of capsules to ensure certain features would be viable for spaceflight. This included window designs, and this capsule features two different concepts.
- Lunar glove box: When lunar rocks and soil returned from the Moon, scientists had to take extra precautions to ensure that the samples were not contaminated by examination — and that humans weren’t contaminated by the samples. This glove box is one of many used in studying the samples as they returned from the Apollo missions.
- Wind tunnel blade: NASA’s Ames Research Center is known for aeronautics research, including wind tunnel testing. One of the largest wind tunnels in the world, which houses a testing area measuring 80 feet by 120 feet, requires huge fans to move air over models and full-scale test articles. Each fan had sixteen blades, just like this one, and there are six fans!
- SOFIA wind tunnel model: Would you fly in a plane with a hole in the fuselage? When designing this airborne observatory, NASA needed to do just that. This wind tunnel model was built to test the ultimate design of the open-air telescope in the rear to ensure that SOFIA would be stable while flying.
- Pioneer 12 model: Pioneer 12 was one of the famous Pioneer missions that launched our initial exploration of our solar system. Pioneer 12, also known as the Pioneer Venus Orbiter, mapped our neighbor’s clouds, atmosphere and ionosphere for 14 years from 1978 to 1992.
- Mars globe and Martian rovers photo cutouts: NASA has been landing on Mars since the 1976 Viking missions. These cutouts feature life-sized images of some of the historic missions to the Red Planet, including Pathfinder/Sojourner, Spirit/Opportunity and Curiosity.
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