- Associated Press - Thursday, May 1, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - You won’t be able to see the International Space Station in the sky for another few weeks - and even then it will pass overheard during daylight - but you can learn a lot more about it at an exhibit at the Indiana State Museum.

“Destination Station” has landed at the museum, depicting life on the space station and detailing the many scientific experiments conducted in outer space. It runs through June 29.

In conjunction with the exhibit, NASA has had its “Driven to Explore” mobile unit, which features a lunar touchstone, in town this week. On Friday the vehicle was to stop at the Indiana State Museum to mark International Space Station Day.

It’s all part of a plan to increase NASA’s exposure in places like Indianapolis, which do not have a significant NASA presence nearby, The Indianapolis Star reported (http://indy.st/1lCKsND ).

“We want to make NASA more accessible,” said Jenny Knotts, a NASA spokeswoman. “We want to let them know we’re still in business, and we want to inspire the next generation.”

NASA wanted to reach out to places here like Eli Lilly and Co. and Roche Diagnostics to talk about potential partnerships with experiments, Knotts said.

The Indiana State Museum leapt at the opportunity to teach their visitors more about the space station.

“I find myself surprised that people don’t know about what the space station is, what they do. It’s really an orbiting science lab. It’s really important we on Earth know what its function is,” said Peggy Fisherkeller, the museum’s curator of geology who curated the exhibit.

Astronauts today strive to be more accessible, making frequent school visits to talk about the work they do. Earlier this week, Dr. Serena Auñón, an Indianapolis native, visited the museum to highlight aspects of the exhibit.

“Destination Station” details some of the more than 500 experiments conducted on the space station in medicine, human biology, material science, biology, plant growth and animal life. The space station houses six astronauts at a time and has been home to ants, spiders, minnows and other animals.

Geared toward grade-school children and older visitors, the exhibit does not offer much in the way of hands-on activities. Instead, it offers glimpses into the workings of the International Space Station through video, text and pictures.

One video, for instance, shows how space affects everyday activities like eating - don’t knock the cashews out of the container because if you do they will float all over the place - and washing one’s hair - how easy it is to make it stand up on end.

Still, it helps to have an astronaut like Auñón there in person to point out the interesting things, facts like tortillas, which are made fresh, are one of the most popular foods in space.

Or one of the biggest everyday problems that the astronauts face: Taking out the trash.

Basically they don’t. Instead they store their trash until a cargo vehicle comes up to deliver supplies, which happens every three to four weeks, Auñón said.

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