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New MOSH exhibit lets you explore a new planet

An overhead look at the Museum of Science and History;s new Planet Pioneers exhibit.
An overhead look at the Museum of Science & History's new Planet Pioneers exhibit.

Jacksonville's Museum of Science & Historyis inviting visitors to go where no one has gone before.

Allowing visitors to become "Planet Pioneers to Mars and Beyond," the exhibition challenges them to find out if they have what it takes to survive on a brand new planet.

MOSH's director of curatorial services, Anthony Mortimer, says the new exhibit is very timely. That's because NASA and private space companies are priming to fly back to the moon and Mars as the exhibit opens.

"This is part of why this exhibit is so exciting and why we are happy to have it — it is so relevant to what is happening right now on the international and galactic stage," Mortimer said. "It’s a highly interactive exhibit where you walk through stages within an environment that is highly immersive, gives you the feel of you are in a space station and research environment, so everything from how do I find resources on the planet to survive, what should I pack?”

The mock lunar rover at MOSH's new Planet Pioneers exhibit, facing a huge virtual reality screen showing an alien planet.
The mock lunar rover at MOSH's new Planet Pioneers exhibit, facing a huge virtual reality screen showing an alien planet.

The new exhibit, which opened last Sunday, features 17 exhibits for budding astronauts and space explorers to the test. Visitors face the challenge of exploring and surviving on a new planet surface.

"In some of the more gamified activities, you can pilot a drone to examine the planet," he said. "You can drive the Mars rover in an augmented reality environment, or spin yourself to see what kind of G-force you can attain to see how that affects your acceleration and your mass."

The exhibit at the museum at 1025 Museum Circle has activities for all ages, while the hands-on experiences are suggested for those ages 5 to 12. MOSH tickets are $19.95 for adults and $16.95 for children, students, seniors and military.

MOSH's future

The new exhibit comes as MOSH announces the hiring of Maureen Mercho as its first chief development officer.

A major focus of her role will include the MOSH Genesis Capital Campaign, which will fund the development of its bigger facility on the Northbank.
The Downtown Investment Authority voted unanimously a year ago to support the details of a city lease for MOSH on 2.5 acres of the Shipyards along East Bay Street, across from Intuition Aleworks at East Bay Street and A. Philip Randolph Boulevard. Visitors will first experience a dramatic two-story “river drop” water feature, then take pathways that mimic the river’s role in connecting the region. Other planned exhibits will include an interactive River Lab; a Mission-Based Maker Space, where guests can work on four engineering challenges; and a Story Lab map of the Jacksonville area with art, films and other cultural artifacts.

The plans approved by the DIA are expected to undergo a full City Council review early this year, with a proposed 2026 opening.

Dan Scanlan is a veteran journalist with almost 40 years as a radio, television and print reporter in the Jacksonville area, as well as years of broadcast work in the Northeast. You can reach Dan at, (904) 607-2770 or on Twitter at @scanlan_dan.