• Search
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram

Spacescapes: postcards from our solar system

A free, outdoor, public exhibition is coming to the Burlington House Courtyard this summer!

31 May 2021

(L-R): Titan’s Kraken Mare, Mars’ Osuga Valles, Earth’s Xingu River (Image credit L-R: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell; NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens; ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO))

We are incredibly excited to announce that this summer the Geological Society will be holding a free, outdoor, public exhibition at Burlington House as part of our 2021 Year of Space. ‘Spacescapes: postcards from our solar system’, will feature incredible, high-definition images of the landscapes and geological features seen around our solar system. The exhibition will open on Friday 20 August and will run for seven weeks, until Friday 8 October, with opening times of 9am until 6pm daily.

Let us take you on a journey through our solar system, stopping off to visit the Perseverance rover on Mars, impact craters on the Moon, mountains on Pluto and storms on Jupiter.

The exhibition will explore the ways in which understanding Earth can help us uncover the history of planetary bodies across our solar system and beyond. By comparing Earthly geological features with similar vistas found on other planets, we can piece together the history of the solar system and look to answer some of the mysteries of our universe.

The exhibition will explore the ways in which understanding Earth can help us uncover the history of planetary bodies across our solar system and beyond

Many of the landscapes on other planets appear alien compared to the environments we are familiar with on Earth. But if we look closely, we can recognise Earth-like features that we can study and interpret. Just like on Earth, rivers run into seas, mountains rise up from horizons, and vast plains are dotted with volcanoes or meteorite craters. Yet, as we travel further into space, mountains are composed of ice; rivers flow with liquid methane, rather than water; and volcanoes reach heights of 25 km, dwarfing Earth’s tallest volcano.

Throughout the history of space exploration, we have sent missions and probes to a staggering eight planets in our solar system, as well as numerous missions to the asteroid belt and other planetary bodies. Today, our ability to send automated rovers to Mars has ushered in an exciting new era for space exploration. The ability to collect and analyse Martian air and soil samples remotely from Earth, or on Earth in the future, is the true frontier of space science. These ground-breaking missions help us observe and understand processes on distant planets like never before.

The similarities and differences between our world and others are what enable planetary geologists to understand how other planets formed and have changed over time. Whether it’s volcanoes on Venus, storms on Jupiter or ice caps on Mars, prepare to be spellbound by the images in this unique display. We invite you to come along, take a selfie with NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover and learn about the fascinating features of our planetary neighbours.

Curiosity’s Selfie at Mont Mercou (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Alongside the exhibition, we will be offering an educational programme, featuring workshops for school students, free resources on our website and loan boxes of items to facilitate learning. Workshops will focus on the comparative geomorphology of Earth and planets in our solar system, linking to curriculum topics in Geology, Geography and Science.

Public lectures
We continue to run our free virtual public lectures on ‘The Geology of Other Planets’ throughout 2021. Talks on the Moon, meteorites, Titan, Pluto and more are still to come! You can find information about all of our Year of Space activities on our website: www.geolsoc.org.uk/space21.

The exhibition wouldn’t have been possible without our collaborative partners. Our main partner is Bluewater, with design support from Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners architectural practice and additional funding support from SRK Consulting, Michael Davies Charitable Settlement, Imperial College London’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, and the Open University. We would also like to thank our neighbours in the Burlington House Courtyard for agreeing to the use of space.

Find out more at spacescapes.geolsoc.org.uk

By Flo Bullough (Head of Policy and Engagement), Megan O’Donnell (Communications and Policy Officer), Rose Want (Education Officer), Alicia Newton (Director of Science & Communications) & Jenny Boland (Head of Development)

Related articles