Space Hall Officially Opened



    Anousheh Ansari - the first female private space explorer explores a new
    space at Toronto's Ontario Science Centre

    TORONTO, Feb. 29 /CNW/ - Anousheh Ansari, the world's first female
private space explorer, landed in Toronto today at the Ontario Science Centre.
The Iranian-born astronaut participated in the official opening of the newly
renovated Space Hall and Planetarium and presented an afternoon lecture about
her 2006 voyage into space and her stay aboard the International Space
Station.
    Mrs. Ansari, who lives and works in the United States, came to Toronto to
help officially launch the newly refurbished Space Hall. This is a very
popular exhibition area within the Science Centre which has been closed for
several months during the renovations. In the Space Hall visitors can see a
real Moon rock, pilot a rocket chair, take a tour of the solar system narrated
by Canadian astronaut Julie Payette, find out why astronauts float in space,
launch a spacecraft to Saturn and much more.
    Anousheh Ansari welcomed guests into the Space Hall this afternoon, spoke
about her travels in space and then signed a wall mounted life-size graphic of
herself in her Russian space suit -- a permanent inspiration point for
visitors. Joining Mrs. Ansari for the ceremony were Lesley Lewis, CEO of the
Science Centre, Mark Cohon, Chair of the Centre's Board of Trustees and MPP
Reza Moridi.
    "Astronomy and space exploration have always been of great interest to
the general public, media, teachers and students. In response to this
continuing fascination, we have re-designed the Space Hall to reflect our most
current understanding of the universe, drawing from the latest research," said
Ontario Science Centre CEO Lesley Lewis. "The exhibits allow visitors to
explore our solar system, see breathtaking images of the most distant objects
ever observed and touch actual meteorite rocks from space. Today's opening is
closely connected to the exhibition FACING MARS: Would you Survive the Journey
currently in development by our staff and opening to the public on June 9,
2008."
    The Space Hall opening also included a demonstration of the Science
Centre new planetarium, the only public planetarium in Toronto. A cutting edge
combination of the latest in projector technologies, state of the art 3D
digital software, and imagery based on real data sets will allow audiences to
feel as though they are flying through the universe.
    "I would spend hours and hours gazing at the stars and wondering, what's
out there?" Mrs. Anousheh Ansari told a large audience at the Science Centre.
"Sometimes I wonder if ... maybe there was another girl like me on another
planet some place gazing at the stars and thinking about the same things."
    "Mrs. Ansari's lecture was inspirational. Perhaps one of the young people
in attendance this afternoon will explore Mars in the future, inspired by what
they heard today!" said Ms. Lewis.

    About the Space Hall:
    ---------------------
    Location: Level C
    In keeping with current science and educational curriculums, the Space
Hall was re-designed to reflect our most current understanding of the
universe, drawing from the latest research and missions to explore our solar
system and beyond. The newly renovated Space Hall takes visitors on a journey
through space and time, culminating in a breathtaking series of the highest
resolution images ever obtained of our early universe. The Space Hall also
includes rock specimens from Mars, a stunning meteorite collection and a
working cloud chamber. Also unique to the Space Hall - it is the only public
planetarium in Toronto.

    About the Ontario Science Centre:
    ---------------------------------
    The Ontario Science Center uses science as the lens to inspire and
actively engage people in new ways of seeing, understanding and thinking about
themselves and the world. The Centre is also a leading developer of
interactive experiences for science centres around the world. The Ontario
Science Centre is an agency of the Government of Canada. Websites:
www.ontariosciencecentre.ca and www.redshiftnow.com.

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




For further information:

For further information: Media contacts: Anna Relyea, Associate Director
of Strategic Communications, Ontario Science Centre, Telephone: (416) 696-3273
or anna.relyea@osc.on.ca; Ellen Flowers, Media Relations Officer, Ontario
Science Centre, Telephone: (416) 696-3154 or ellen.flowers@osc.on.ca


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