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Fernbank’s Journey to Space: See famous artifacts, what astronauts eat, problems they encounter

ATLANTA — Have you ever dreamed about journeying into space? Want to see what life is like aboard the International Space Station? Ever wondered how astronauts use the bathroom?

Explore all these ideas and more without leaving the earth’s gravitational pull at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s newest exhibit, Journey to Space.

PHOTOS: 49,000-year-old meteorite, Neil Armstrong’s gloves, space food at Fernbank’s Journey to Space

“This exhibit is giant problem-solving experience,” Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Sarah Arnold told WSB-TV’s Nelson Hicks. “It asks the questions, ‘How do we explore space. How do get there? Once we get there, what are the hazards that we have to worry about? Once we figure out how to protect ourselves, how do we get people into space and let them live there so that we can do research and hopefully, research, get further and further out into the solar system.’”

See the gloves Neil Armstrong wore on his Apollo mission, check out a 49,000-year-old meteorite, control the distribution of power aboard the space station to ensure everyone’s survival and see how astronauts use the restroom 250 miles from the earth’s surface.

“Going to the bathroom in space can also be problematic because, again, in weightlessness, everything floats,” Arnold said. “It used to be you had to eliminate your waste by hand, by aiming into a bag. Now we have much more sophisticated systems that use vacuum pumps to essentially remove any waste as it’s being expelled from you.”

The special exhibit at Fernbank is open now through New Year’s Day. Between actual items used in space missions and numerous interactive displays, Journey to Space showcases what scientists have learned about the final frontier and the issues mankind has had to overcome along the way.

Part of the exhibit is dedicated to what those traveling into space eat. Astronauts get to choose between 200 standard menu items for their journey to space. Their choices combine nutritional needs along with personal preferences. But preparing the food can be a little complicated.

“How do you season your food?” Arnold questioned. “You can’t use salt in space because everything floats. So if you have a bunch of salt crystals floating around, it gets in your air systems, it gets into your eyes. So how do you season it? You use salt water. So, a lot of thought has to go into feeding people and giving them similar options to what they might have on Earth.”

At the exhibit’s conclusion, Fernbank uncovers the mission to Mars and how it drastically differs from the mission to the moon, particularly when it comes to developing a sustainable energy source to get there.

Admission to Journey to Space is included with regular admission to Fernbank.

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This story is sponsored by Fernbank Museum of Natural History.