NASA Ames Research Visitors Center

If you have visitors, you should definitely take them to them to our NASA Ames Research Visitors Center. Admission and parking are free.

I stopped by last week to see what was new in the center. The newest addition to the visitors center is a life size model of Pioneer Venus Orbiter (Pioneer 12). My favorite item is the Mercury Spacecraft that launched in 1960. It was recovered 236 miles down range in the Atlantic ocean following its sub-orbital flight. It’s so retro looking.

The moon rock is always one of the most popular items on display. It was collected by the crew of Apollo 15 in 1971 and is approximately 3.4 billion years old. 

I like that they have red lighting on the Mars globe. My photo of the red planet reminded me of Scott Kelly’s photos from his year in space. I love following him on Twitter imagining spending an entire year that far away from home. I’m really hoping that we get to have some kind of Scott Kelly display in our NASA Ames Research Center in the future.

The NASA Advanced Super Computing Division has a display area. This Archive Storage System would be able to hold 34 trillion songs (mp3s) on tape and it would take 192,932 years to play back that many song. In comparison, iTunes has around 37 million songs.

There is a model of the LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer). And some vintage spacesuits (Gemini from 1965 and Mercury from 1961) are interesting and look like sci-fi movie props.

They have a small version of the International Space Station in the middle of the giant visitors center tent. The tiny gift shop had just as many visitors in it as the entire visitor center display area. This is definitely the place to go for a NASA mug or tee-shirt. You’ll find yummy astronaut food in the gift shop too. 

Towards the exit area of the tent is a display that shows all the ‘spin-off’ products that we have as a result of NASA’s technology. Things like memory foam, cordless drills, hand held vacuums, smoke detectors, better bike helmets, and the pattern of dimples on golf balls are all things thatwe have because of NASA. They also helped modernize our San Francisco Cable Car system in a number of ways to increase safety and efficiency. 

They get lots of international visitors and plenty of field trips (school children). If you plan on bringing a group, you should make a reservation. The person working at the front desk was very helpful and was able to answer all of my questions. 

It’s a nice way to spend an hour or two and you’ll feel proud that NASA is part of our community. I love Mountain View.

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