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Voyage and Pluto
A portion of the Voyage scale model of the Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. is shown in the photograph at the bottom of the page. The real Solar System is exactly 10 billion times larger than the model. Voyage stretches from the east side of the National Air and Space Museum to the Smithsonian Castle, as seen on the map below. The planets depicted above the map are on the same scale as Voyage’s model worlds.


Imagine leaving the grapefruit-sized Sun walking westward toward the Washington Monument. After walking just 50 feet (15 m) you encounter Earth, home of the human race, and smaller than the head of a pin. The entire orbit of the Moon fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The 50-foot distance between the Earth and Sun represents 17 years of travel at the speed of a commercial jet. image_Sun_unit

After a comfortable 20-minute walk, stopping along the way to visit a number of other worlds, you arrive at the Smithsonian Castle Building, 6.5 football fields west of the model Sun (2000 ft or 600 m). Here, just visible, is tiny Pluto—far smaller than the head of a pin. Looking back at the model Sun, across over 6 football fields of empty space, you realize that Earth is no more than a small speck of dust orbiting close to the Sun. How does the human race even know Pluto exists?

If you could continue your walk westward, you wouldn't find the nearest star to our Sun—Proxima Centauri—until you had reached the California coast. The Sun and Proxima Centauri are just two stars in our home 'city of stars'—the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way, an insignificant plot of real estate in the greater universe, contains enough stars to give 50 to every human being on Earth. How insignificant is the Milky Way? It is only one of over 100,000,000,000 galaxies in the observable universe.

Light, the fastest thing in the universe, can circle the Earth 7.5 times in one second, traveling 40,000 times faster than the space shuttle. The speed of light on the scale of Voyage is 1 inch per second (2.5 cm/sec), about the speed of a fast ant. Leaving the model Sun an ant would arrive at the model Earth in eight minutes, Pluto in 6 hours, and a model Proxima Centauri in California after 4.5 years. Put another way—exploring just the space between the Sun and nearest star to the Sun at the fantastic speed of light, would be like exploring the continental United States as a colony of ants.

This is the story of our existence--a race of explorers, 6 billion tiny souls strong. It is a story that ignites wonder about the universe, and a sense of pride in our ability to reveal its nature through both human imagination and ingenuity. It is a story that humbles us, and brings a sense of humility to our lives.

It is a Voyage that will forever change your perspective of home.