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Sept. 5, 2023

Media Advisory: New installation at UArizona invites public to explore the solar system

  • What: Ribbon cutting for the Arizona Scale Model Solar System installation
  • When: Friday, Sept. 8, 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: Remarks will be given in the Kuiper Space Sciences Building, Room 308, followed by a ribbon cutting on the building steps.

TUCSON, Ariz. — Members of the media are invited to a ribbon-cutting for the Arizona Scale Model Solar System installation on the University of Arizona campus. The permanent installation, designed to show the relative sizes and distances of solar system objects at a 1:5 billion scale, is the result of an outreach project that aims to make space science accessible to the public.

College of Science dean Carmala Garzione and project lead Zarah Brown, a doctoral student at the UArizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, will give remarks in Room 308 of the Kuiper Space Science Building. The ribbon-cutting ceremony will follow on the steps outside the building's main entrance.

The Arizona Scale Model Solar System installation consists of 11 plaques spaced out across two-thirds of a mile of campus between the Kuiper Space Sciences Building and the intersection of East University Boulevard and North Euclid Avenue. The plaques provide details on the mass, diameter, surface gravity and temperature of various solar system objects, as well as stories about related UArizona scientific contributions. The interpretive information on each plaque is complemented by NASA images and illustrations by James Keane, an alumnus of the UArizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

"Astronomical scales can be difficult to grasp," Brown said. "Helping people get a sense of the grandeur of our solar system and our place in it is a beautiful thing, and I'm honored to be leading this project."

With the plaques installed in high-traffic areas, Brown hopes the project will reach a wide audience, including university employees and students, as well as K-12 students and community members visiting campus. A project website, accessible by QR codes at each stop, will provide information via screen readers for the visually impaired, as well as additional details as new scientific discoveries are made.

The project is the result of collaborative efforts made possible by the support of the NASA Space Grant program and an anonymous benefactor.

"I like to think the project highlights many of the accomplishments of the university in exploring our solar system and makes space science accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds," Brown said.

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Researcher contact:
Zarah Brown
Lunar and Planetary Laboratory

Media contact:
Daniel Stolte

University Communications