Digital Projection Laser is the Final Frontier for Space Museum

A division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, the Museum of Space History hosts various exhibitions, a hall of fame, education programs, a library and conservation area.

The mission of the museum is to educate the people of New Mexico and visitors from around the world in the history, science, and technology of space, while stressing the significant role that the state of New Mexico has played in the development of the U.S. Space Program.

A particularly popular area in the museum is The New Horizons Dome Theater and Planetarium. Named for the spacecraft that flew by Pluto in 2015, it is the first dome theatre in the world to feature the Spitz SciDome 4K Laser Fulldome planetarium system. The theatre offers giant screen films, full dome digital planetarium shows and live star talks.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History wanted to update their planetarium theatre which had previously been using a dual IMAX projection system. The museum’s goal was to upgrade to a single system that could project a broader diversity of vivid content including star shows & planetarium movies as well as large screen films across their 360-degree, 40-foot dome screen.

The upgrade was led by Spitz Incorporated, the largest supplier of planetariums for education, entertainment, and businesses. The Museum ordered the SciDome 4K Laser Fulldome Planetarium System that included two of Digital Projection’s INSIGHT Laser 4K projectors. Producing a total of 24,000 laser illuminated lumens and an ultra-high 4096 x 4096 pixel resolution, the pair of INSIGHT Laser 4Ks replaced two separate legacy projectors in the museum’s theatre with a single solution to handle all dome projection applications.

The combined INSIGHT Laser 4K projectors use purposed built dome lenses and cover 360 degrees of the New Horizons Dome Theatre, providing 4K resolution via laser illumination onto the 12 metres (40-foot) SciDome surface. This new system provides higher a resolution to display crisp planetarium star fields and vivid pre-rendered shows. With an illumination system service life of 20,000 hours, the solid-state laser illumination incorporated within the INSIGHT Laser 4K projectors significantly improves system dependability. This new technology eliminates the maintenance costs related to the scheduled replacement of the older arc lamps from the previous projection systems, as well as the time required to replace or deal with downtime & show cancelations caused by unpredictable lamp failures.

Commenting on the new projection system, Christopher Orwoll, executive director of the New Mexico Museum of Space History enthused: “We’ve been extremely pleased with the new SciDome 4K Laser Projection system. The image on our dome is stunning in all the various modes we use the system and is easy to work with. The operation of the new system is much, much easier and far less prone to failure. The projectors & lenses have been very reliable and we haven’t lost any shows because of them, not to mention the costs to operate them are a fraction of what it used to be for the IMAX system (utilities & personnel). It was a great, great choice for us and we’ve been very happy with our decision.”