Downtown space exploration

NASA Ames celebrates 75th anniversary with exhibits around Mountain View

People walking through downtown Mountain View might find space shuttles, robots and astronaut suits popping up in the windows of popular businesses. That's because the NASA Ames Research Center is celebrating its 75th anniversary with 17 exhibits sprinkled throughout Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

The exhibits are part of NASA Ames' "Living Museum," which runs the entire month of July and will feature past and present scientific endeavors by the research center. The exhibits range from informational posters and lit-up displays to aircraft models and tools used for space research.

So whether it's a model aircraft flying overhead at the Tied House or retired satellite equipment propped up in the bookstore, keep an eye out for space-age technology sprinkled throughout the city.

A full list of the 17 locations can be found on the NASA Ames website and in pamphlets on the first floor of Mountain View City Hall. For more information, contact Sheila Johnson at 650-604-5054.

CheMin instrument

Several complicated gadgets sit behind the window at the Odd Fellows Hall at Castro and Villa streets for the CheMin Instrument display. Short for chemistry and minerology, CheMin instruments use x-ray diffraction to let researchers at NASA Ames peer into the past and see what ancient Martian environments were like -- and maybe find clues of life on Mars.

CheMin one, designed in 1991, is about the size of a breadbox because it had to fit inside Curiosity, the Mars rover. According to the display, it took 20 years of technological development to bring CheMin One down from the size of a large cabinet to its current dimensions.

Rotorcraft aeromechanics

Model helicopters and other rotorcrafts are on display at the West Valley Music's storefront. It includes images and descriptions of past and present projects and designs by NASA Ames' rotorcraft aeromechanics research. Some of these experimental, helicopter-like aircrafts were used by the research center in the 1970s.

The UH-1H was used from 1978 to 1993 by the research center to develop control systems for fully automatic flight for helicopters. NASA Ames was able to develop automatic, digital flight guidance and auto-land in the program using the aircraft, and identified important featured related to maneuverability and stability in flight.

Past, present and future of NASA Ames

Propped up and ready to launch is a model of an iconic space shuttle on display at the Jehning Family Lock Museum. Part of the "Past, Present and Future of NASA Ames" display, the shuttle is one of the many past endeavors for the research center.

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