Space Exploration Events

Discover the wonders of science and space through our Exploration Events. Space Center Houston hosts special presentations, book signings and other experiences that inform and educate guests about science and space missions, history, initiatives and more. These events are included in general admission.

March Exploration Events

CANCELLED - Cosmos: Possible Worlds event

Space Center Houston apologizes for the inconvenience, but the March 12 screening of Cosmos: Possible Worlds has been canceled. Guest speakers for this event have decided to avoid travel due to concerns over the coronavirus. The VIP reception for that evening has also been canceled. We appreciate your patience. We are committed to providing a premiere experience and will offer more programming this spring.

Special screening


  • When: March 12 @ 7 p.m.
  • Where: Space Center Theater
  • Topic: “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” world premiere
  • Summary: Travel through 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution and future space exploration with National Geographic’s series Cosmos: Possible Worlds. Join us for a special screening of the upcoming episode “The Man of a Trillion Worlds” at 7 p.m. March 12 in the Space Center Theater. Following the screening, join us for an intimate conversation with Sasha Sagan, daugther of the series creators and author of For Small Creatures Such As We. Cosmos: Possible Worlds, helmed by Carl Sagan’s collaborator, Ann Druyan, boldly carries the torch forward, making this season the most ambitious yet. The series is a triumphant voyage through humanity’s past, present and hope-filled future, taking viewers to previously uncharted territories and turning complex themes of science and exploration into a mind-blowing adventure beyond the realms of the imagination. This special sneak-peek episode, “The Man of a Trillion Worlds,” portrays a young Carl Sagan who lies on the rug of a tenement, dreaming of interstellar adventures and infinite possibilities. Sasha Sagan appears in the live-action role as her paternal grandmother, Rachel Gruber Sagan. Following the panel discussion, join both Ann and Sasha for a mingling reception, including a book signing of both their books.
Cosmos logo


This is a free event, but seating is limited so a ticket is required.
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*Books available for purchase at SpaceTrader gift shop.

Special presentation


  • When: Feb. 5 @ 7 p.m.
  • Where: Space Center Theater
  • Who: Emily Lakdawalla, Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
  • Topic: Exoplanets in Our Backyard
  • Summary: Our generation is the first in human history to travel to other worlds. With the help of robots, we’ve seen the lava plains of Venus, the fire fountains of Jupiter’s moon Io, the methane lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan, the craggy cliffs of comets, the moody blue storms of Neptune, and the youthful glaciers of Pluto. Thirty spacecraft are exploring our solar system right now. At the same time, we’ve discovered that there are about as many planets in our galaxy as there are stars. We can’t visit those worlds yet, but we can learn a little about what they might be like by studying our neighbor planets. What kinds of planets are out there? Is our own solar system normal or weird? Could there be other planets with life? Learn about the surprising diversity of worlds near and far with Emily Lakdawalla, Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society.
This is a free event, but seating is limited so a ticket is required.

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Emily Lakdawalla

Special presentations


  • When: Feb. 28 @ 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Topic: Illuminating Engineering Society
  • Summary: Join us for a day of illumination with the Illuminating Engineering Society. Engage with engineers in Astronaut Gallery, sit in on panels about spacecraft engineering and lighting difficult environments and see a keynote presentation by Dr. George Brainard, director of the Light Research Program at Thomas Jefferson University.

Schedule

Engage in engineering exercises

Astronaut Gallery | 10 - 11 a.m.
  • The problem with lumens: In this exercise, we have a lamp stand that has a standard Edison base and standard bulb type. The lamp stand has the ability for us to put different reflectors over the lamp to redirect the energy from the lamp. The lamp’s lumen output stays the same, but the demonstration shows that the beam pattern matters. Find out why beam patterns are just as important as energy output in planning a lighting solution.
  • Color Fidelity: In this exercise we have a table that has multiple lamps, some all-white LED, some multi-spectral LED, and some with different IES-TM30/CRI scores. We also have color samples from say a Munsel Color Book or even paint chips from the hardware store. Look at the same set of samples under the different light types and use a hend held spectral irradiance meter to learn why color fidelity scores matter.
  • Light Level and Adaptation: The demonstration would be able to have variable intensity from say 100 lux to 1000-10000 lux. Complete a task and adapt to a very light bright level and then try to imediately do the same task at a lower light level. Gain an understanding of of how light levels affect everything from stree lighting to orbital lighting environments.

Spacecraft Engineering Systems & Architecture

Mission Briefing Center | 12 - 1 p.m.
  • Synopsis: Get a glimpse into the planning and stratgey that goes into designing a spacecraft, including the lighting environment.
  • Speaker: Toni Clark, PE, NASA JSC HHPC Fellow for Spacecraft Lighting Environments at Leidos, Inc.

Light and Health: from Space Flight to Patient Care

Mission Briefing Center | 2 - 3 p.m.
  • Synopsis: Light is a potent stimulus for regulating human biology and behavior as well as fostering health in clinical applications, such as treating winter depression and sleep disorders. In addition, light therapy has been evaluated for healthy individuals who experience circadian and sleep disruption associated with intercontinental jet travel, shift work and spaceflight. Studies are in process testing an advanced solid-state light system for supporting astronaut vision as well as circadian, and sleep regulation in crewmembers on the International Space Station. These exciting advances are in a nascent stage, but collaborations between scientists and engineers across the fields of physics, biomedicine, lighting and architecture are opening the door to optimize the use light for the benefit of humanity
  • Speaker: George C. Brainard, PhD, Director of the Light Research Program at Thomas Jefferson University

Lighting for Difficult Environments

Mission Briefing Center | 3:30-5 p.m.
  • Synopsis: Panelists represent a wide variety of professions that all are impacted and study lighting for a variety of reasons. This panel discussion will delve into hypothesis they’ve tested, interesting discoveries they’ve made and impacts those have had to their lives and work.
  • Speakers: Ian Ashdown, PE (Ret.), FIES, Senior Scientist at SunTracker Ltd.; Dr. George Brainard, PhD, Director of the Light Research Program at Thomas Jefferson University; Dr. Lee Brown, MD, Health System Sleep Disorders Center at the University of New Mexico, Tenured Prof of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics, Adj. Prof. ECE; Toni Clark, PE, NASA JSC HHPC Fellow for Spacecraft Lighting Environments at Leidos, Inc.; Rachel Fitzgerald, CLD, LC, IALD, LEED BD+C, Senior Associate, Discipline Lead, Lighting at Stantec; Martin Valentine, FSLL, MIES, Global Design Director at Ligman Lighting; and Haniyeh Mirdamadi, IES, Lighting Designer and Habitability Researcher ARUP.
View of Earth at night from Space George Brainard Keynote speaker Dr. George Brainard
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