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Distant Destinations

Project Details

Project Year: 2019-2020

Project Type: Collaboratory


Kenneth E. Phillips, Physics and Astronomy Curator for Aerospace Science, California Science Center

Innovation Scholars

Audrey Franklin, Chemical Engineering
Jane Carpenter, Chemical Engineering (Sustainable Energy); German (Minor)
Priya Irukulapati, Industrial Engineering; Applied Analytics (Minor)
Katherine Yang, Media Arts + Practice; Computer Programming (Minor): Linguistics (Minor)
Ishani Mihir Desai, Economics and Math; Applied Analytics (Minor)

Outside Advisors

Curation and Exhibit Developer Team, California Science Center.

The Collaboratory

Terraforming Mars Collaboratory
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Students in this Collaboratory worked with Kenneth E. Phillips from USC’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and Curator for Aerospace Science at the California Science Center as well as the Center’s Curation and Exhibit Development Team to research and design an interactive, multiplayer museum exhibit on the challenges of human-piloted deep space missions. 

In order to design an exhibit that effectively educates the general public on space travel, students had to conduct research in multiple disciplinary fields, including the diverse planetary geology of our solar system, the basic concepts of orbital mechanics that describe flight trajectories, and lethal biomedical hazards associated with space travel. Students also investigated case studies and best practices for interactive educational exhibits, including issues of accessibility, fairness, and the mechanics of multiplayer gameplay. Students visited the spacecraft galleries at the California Science Center and the award-winning Situation Room Experience at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

The Outcomes 


Students developed a five-player, interactive game centered on a Lunar-base resupply mission. The game logic included four distinct phases and mini-games (Launch; Travel; Entry, Decent, and Landing; Base Set Up) two of which allowed players to solve independent problems with the other two requiring teamwork and collaboration. This prototype will inform the development of a large multi-player exhibit entitled Distant Destinations for the California Science Center’s future Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center.