Exhibit explores UI space history

A replica of the satellite Hawkeye sits on display as part of the Hawkeyes in Space exhibit at the Old Capitol Museum. Photo: Joe Huisinga CBS2/FOX28

When you think of Iowa you probably don't think of space exploration but a new exhibit at the Old Capitol Museum look at our deep extraterrestrial roots.

The opening of Hawkeyes in Space drew more than 200 people, to one of the museums biggest openings ever and the interest was well earned.

"People may not be completely aware of the impact that the University of Iowa had on the whole field of space exploration," says Cornelia Lang, an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy who put the exhibit together.

in fact the UI was there on the ground floor helping to build the first U.S. satellite Explorer One which launched in 1958.

"It's the first satellite ever to carry a scientific instrument and it's one that Van Allen built here at the University," says Bill Kurth, a Research Scientist at the UI who has worked on numerous space projects.

The legacy and the exhibit start with the life and work of Dr. James Van Allen who discovered a bands of radiation around the earth known as the VanAllen Belt.

His arrival launched the university into the final frontier.

In the time before NASA satellites and their equipment were built on campus like Hawkeye which launched in 1974.

"You don't hear about a satellite called the Stanford satellite or the Harvard satellite but theres a Hawkeye satellite that went up into space," says Zachary Luppen, a UI sophomore who co- curated the exhibit.

There are interactive displays of plasma and the sounds of radiation made audible for humans, but it is much more than a story of science.

"One of the biggest things we did with this exhibit was include as many images of people as possible because there have been thousands of people just working on these," says Luppen.

Kurth cant even remember how many he has worked on.

"One of my favorites is Voyager," he says. "It literally wrote the textbooks on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and neptune."

Most recently the probe Juno began its orbit of jupiter with special instruments built in UI labs.

"We just made our first close fly by with our eyes and ears open we flew right over the brightest auroras in the solar system," says Kurth

It's UI's involvement in space is a legend that continues to grow.

"This exhibit is really an opportunity to tell the story from 1951 to the present and beyond," says Lang.

The exhibit is in the basement of the old Capitol Museum and will be open until May

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off