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.

February Exploration Events

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

March Exploration Events

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 at the world premiere of and episode “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” 7 p.m. March 12 in Space Center Theater. A book signing with Sasha Sagan and Ann Druyan will follow the screening. Druyan co-created the original 1980s “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” series featuring astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan, which later inspired Druyan and Sagan’s daughter Sasha to write the book, “For Small Creatures Such As We.” “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” was the most widely watched series in the history of American television until 1990, and it has been seen by more than 500 million people. Following Sagan's death in 1996, Druyan along with astrophysicists Steven Soter and Neil deGrasse Tyson sought to create a new version of the series. In 2014 “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey” aired with Tyson hosting the new version of the series. This spring, Tyson returns to host “Cosmos: Possible Worlds” airing on National Geographic and Fox. This series ventures to previously uncharted territories: starting back to the dawning of our universe, moving forward to the futuristic 2039 New York World’s Fair and then far beyond into the distant future on other worlds.
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
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