Former Space Grant Fellow Creates Scale Model Solar System

Former Space Grant Fellow Creates Scale Model Solar System

Sept. 8, 2023
(From left to right) Zarah Brown standing next to new placard with Dr. Tim Swindle, Dr. Mark Marley, and Dr. Carmala Garzione.

Zarah Brown (featured here on the left), UArizona Space Grant Fellow from 2020-22, spearheaded the creation of a scale model solar system on the University of Arizona campus. After working on this project for years, Zarah's work is now open to the public and was introduced by the Lunar and Planetary Lab department head, Dr. Mark Marley, and College of Science Dean, Dr. Carmala Garzione (who happens to also be a former 1999 Space Grant Fellow) during a ceremony on September 8, 2023. "The Arizona Scale Model Solar System [is] at a scale of 1:5 billion, the model extends from the Kuiper Space Sciences Building to the intersection of University Boulevard and Euclid Avenue and consists of 11 plaques illustrating the relative sizes of celestial objects. These are complemented by captivating narratives, NASA images, and illustrations contributed by LPL alumnus Dr. James Keane, and showcase the legacy of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in exploring our solar system. The realization of this project is the result of collaborative efforts, made possible by the generous support of the Arizona Space Grant and an anonymous benefactor."

Zarah, we are so proud of your accomplishments. This installation will be viewed by the many students, staff, faculty, family, locals, and visitors that come to campus each day, and you have made a lasting positive impact at this university. Congratulations on this amazing achievement!

Check out the website for the installation here:


Welcome to The Arizona Scale Model Solar System, where you can stroll from the Sun to Pluto.

The size of each object and the distances between them are shown at a 1 to 5 billion scale. The model extends 0.68 miles along the University of Arizona Mall, starting with the Sun, located outside the Kuiper Space Science Building on the east, and beyond west Main Gate. The Arizona Scale Model Solar System was inaugurated in 2023 and is brought to you by the University of Arizona, the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and the Arizona Space Grant Consortium.

To know the universe and understand our place in it is a fundamental pursuit of humankind. Science, and space science in particular, has arisen to directly look for answers. Developing an intuitive grasp of astronomical scales is challenging, even for those who study it. Artwork has the power to engage our minds in powerful ways. Public art, in particular, has the potential to enrich lives, contribute to cultural dialogue, and enhance the community's identity. It can reshape perceptions and forge a deeper connection with a place. The University of Arizona has a rich history of contributing to NASA space missions, including the Apollo program, which led to humankind taking its first steps on another planetary body in 1969. Our exploration of space through these missions combined with the important fundamental research conducted at LPL and the University of Arizona has contributed significantly to our understanding of each of the planets in our solar system. This project stands as a testament to this legacy.