NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has finally reached the planet formerly know as Pluto (now considered a icy dwarf planet). New Horizons left Earth back on January 19, 2006 and finally arrived today!
Here is the blurb from the NASA fact sheet:
New Horizons launched on Jan. 19, 2006; it swung past Jupiter for a gravity boost and scientific studies in February 2007, and is conducting a six-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons that started in early 2015. Pluto closest approach occurs on July 14, 2015. If NASA approves an extended mission, the spacecraft could head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine one or two of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit. Sending a spacecraft on this long journey will help us answer basic questions about the surface properties, geology, interior makeup and atmospheres on these bodies…
Generally, New Horizons seeks to understand where Pluto and its moons “fit in” with the other objects in the solar system, such as the inner rocky planets (Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury) and the outer gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune). Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, belong to a third category known as “ice dwarfs.” They have solid surfaces but, unlike the terrestrial planets, a significant portion of their mass is icy material. Using Hubble Space Telescope images, New Horizons team members have discovered four previously unknown moons of Pluto: Nix, Hydra, Styx and Kerberos. A close-up look at these worlds from a spacecraft promises to tell an incredible story about the origins and outskirts of our solar system. New Horizons also will explore – for the first time – how ice dwarf planets like Pluto and Kuiper Belt bodies have evolved over time” (http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nh-fact-sheet-2015_0.pdf).
Here is New Horizons and its path (images from NASA http://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nh-fact-sheet-2015_0.pdf):
Here is wonderful new photo of Pluto released today (image from NASA http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/multimedia/display.cfm?Category=Planets&IM_ID=20233)
Also traveling with New Horizons are nine objects – such as a stamp and the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh – who discovered Pluto, are in a 2-inch aluminum capsule inscribed with these words: “Interned herein are remains of American Clyde W. Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto and the solar system’s ‘third zone.’ Adelle and Muron’s boy, Patricia’s husband, Annette and Alden’s father, astronomer, teacher, punster, and friend: Clyde Tombaugh (1906-1997)” (http://www.timescolonist.com/astronomer-s-ashes-nearing-pluto-icy-world-he-discovered-quarters-stamp-also-on-spacecraft-1.1997909?utm_content=buffer9141e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.1OVsDst1.dpuf)
Needless to say that then NASA connected to New Horizons (I was watching live online) to say that it was working the Internet, Twitter, and NASA went a bit crazy!
The live signal can be seen here: http://eyes.nasa.gov/dsn/dsn.html
And a few Tweets from around the galaxy (Tweets from @NASA, @NASANewHorizons, @SarcasticRover, @POTUS, @WilliamShatner, and @StephenAtHome)
On Friday May 1st (May Day) I was finally able to visit the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Space exhibit with friends Cheryl and Bill. The exhibit “Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience” is very hands on with lots of videos, interactive items, NASA artifacts, and a mockup of the ISS bathroom! The blurb on the exhibit is “What does the future hold for humans and space travel? Space is a one-of-a-kind exhibit that seeks to answer that question and more by exploring the challenges of living and working in space. Unlike traditional space exhibits that focus on the history of space travel, Space looks into current and future exploration and what is possible” (http://www.smm.org/space). Then after visiting the exhibit we went to the Omnitheater film “Journey to Space” which was narrated by Patrick Stewart! The film is a “Reflect on how the space shuttle program of the past has shaped our approach to the future’s space hurdles—including the exploration of Mars. Marvel at the extraordinary accomplishments of human space travel over the past fifty years—and dream of the new horizons ahead” (http://www.smm.org/space/omnitheater). A very fun exhibit and film, so go if you have the opportunity.
When I went to the ‘Outside the Spacecraft Social: 50 Years of EVA’ #Spacewalk50 at the Smithsonian Ar and Space Museum back in January 2015, I feel in love with one of the pieces of art in the exhibit:’Plantary Citizen’ by Angela Manno.
‘Plantary Citizen’ “is one of a 12-piece series of mixed-media paintings combining batik, the ancient medium of textile design, with color xerography. It reproduces the famous photo of Space Shuttle astronaut Bruce McCandless flying the Manned Maneuvering Unit. The quote at the bottom reads, “Each man comes back (to earth) with a feeling he is no longer only an American citizen; he is a planetary citizen.” Planetary Citizen is Manno’s signature piece” (Outside the Spacecraft. 2015. http://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/outside-the-spacecraft/online/image-detail.cfm?id=9816 and http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/multimedia/detail.cfm?id=9816). It turns out that “Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, one of only 12 humans to walk the lunar surface, inspired this piece when he said that “Each man comes back (to Earth with a feeling that he is no longer only an American citizen; he is a planetary citizen.” These words, combined with the spellbinding image of Earth from afar, inspired <Angela’s> visionary space-art series, “Conscious Evolution: The World At One.” “This series,” says Mitchell, “captures the spirit of the view of the earth from space and provides insights into cosmic awareness.” (Angela Manno Art Studio. 2015. “Conscious Evolution: The World At One” http://www.angelamanno.com/ConsciousEvolution/index.php).
The exhibit “Conscious Evolution: The World At One,’ which was “a 13-piece series of mixed-media paintings created in 1985 by artist Angela Manno. The series combines batik, the ancient medium of textile design, with the ultramodern technique of color xerography and integrates quotations by space explorers, statesmen, scientists and philosophers on the theme of global unity and individual and collective responsibility for the condition of our planet. Largely inspired by views of the Earth from space, Conscious Evolution: The World At One has been acknowledged by many of the lunar and shuttle astronauts as expressing the feelings, hopes and concerns they have had as a result of seeing Earth from space. After a highly successful international tour, and with the support of many wonderful sponsors including actor Tom Hanks, AXA Space and Xerox Corporation and Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum completed collecting this visionary space-art series for its permanent fine art collection in December of 2000 (Angela Manno Art Studio. 2015. “Conscious Evolution: The World At One” http://www.angelamanno.com/ConsciousEvolution/index.php).
What I think what I loved most about ‘Plantary Citizen’ is the astronauts view of the Earth from space, plus all those little floating astronauts, and the colors. It also reminds me of a quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson when he is talking about how mind blowing the view of the Earth from the Moon was, which we saw via Apollo 8’s famous Earthrise photo from December 24, 1968. DeGrasse Tyson (coughPlutoKillercough) says that “This was the first time any of us had seen Earth the way nature had intended, with oceans and land and clouds. We’re thinking we’re exploring the moon and we discovered the Earth for the first time” (60 Minutes. March 2015. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/neil-degrasse-tyson-astrophysicist-charlie-rose-60-minutes/).
Angela Manno has prints of her art works for purchase and luckily ‘Plantary Citizen’ was still available and it was even on sale! I asked her a bunch of questions and she told me she had a print in the #20s available, but me being me, I asked if she still had prints #42, #43, or #45 available and she had #42! How weird is that! #42 was meant to be my print. Why #42? 42 is my current age and it is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. One of my beliefs is that every woman should always give herself a birthday gift and this print is my gift to myself for my #43 birthday.
If you can, go and see ‘Plantary Citizen’ live and on Earth at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum or view it here http://airandspace.si.edu/explore-and-learn/multimedia/detail.cfm?id=9816. Otherwise I would recommend that you purchase your own copy from Angela Manno here: http://www.angelamanno.com/ConsciousEvolution/index.php.
The official ‘Outside the Spacecraft Social’ group photo with social media users (15 of us), curators, conservators, and special guest NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria.
(Photo courtesy of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. See other photos of the event on the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/airandspace/sets/72157650334622212/)
After the social ended there was time to look around the National Air and Space Museum and it was amazing! I didn’t know where to look as there were airplanes and space items everywhere. Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega was my favorite item and its really the most beautiful airplane. Did I mention the gift shop had three levels? Three!
Today I received this email: “Dear Melissa, Congratulations! You have been selected to attend the Outside the Spacecraft Social at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC on January 7, 2015.”
I was accepted to “Outside the Spacecraft Social” (a social media event) at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC!!! I had applied and figured that I would not get in, as they were only taking 15 people, but I got in! What a wonderful Christmas Eve gift!
Here was the call for social media participants:
OUTSIDE THE SPACECRAFT SOCIAL
“Join us to preview our newest exhibition at the Museum in Washington, DC, Outside the Spacecraft: 50-Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity! We’re inviting 15 social media users to tour Outside the Spacecraft (#spacewalk50) from 10 am to 1 pm on January 7, 2015 before it opens to the public. Explore the history of spacewalks with the exhibition’s curator, learn how we care for spacesuits from our conservator, hear how the exhibition was composed from our designer, and meet special guests. Come take a sneak peek at this new exhibition commemorating 50 years of spacewalks, interact with museum staff, and connect with fellow social media users who are passionate about spaceflight, museum collections, photography, and art inspired by spacewalks!”
And more information…
“What is the Outside the Spacecraft Social?
Outside the Spacecraft is an exhibition commemorating the 50th anniversary of Aleksei Leonov and Ed White’s ventures outside the spacecraft through art, photography, artifacts, and personal accounts that relate the continuing story of spacewalks.
Outside the Spacecraft Social participants have the opportunity to take an advance look at this exhibition before it opens, as well as:
-Get a behind-the-scenes tour of the exhibition from the exhibit’s curator
-Hear about the care of spacesuits in the Museum’s collections
-Learn about the process of designing the exhibition – including a special display for spacesuit gloves”
And here is the information from the exhibit:
Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity
Open January 8, 2015 through June 8, 2015
“Extra-vehicular activity, or EVA—working outside a spacecraft—changed the nature of human spaceflight. It made possible walking on the Moon, servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, and building the International Space Station. It remains crucial to our ongoing presence in space.
EVA requires a wearable spacecraft—the spacesuit—and specialized tools for astronauts to survive in the hazardous environment of space. Since the first space walks of Aleksei Leonov and Edward White in 1965, more than 200 astronauts and cosmonauts have amassed over 1,000 hours of EVA experience.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of those first two ventures outside the spacecraft, this exhibition will present art, photography, artifacts, and personal accounts that relate the continuing story of EVA” (http://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/outside-the-spacecraft/).
Its Thanksgiving, so you should be thankful for many things and NASA should be at the top of the list! I went to a NASA Social event with a lot of very cool people who are writing and blogging about the event. Rebecca Benison wrote this great blog posting on “5 Reasons to be Thankful for NASA” http://blog.thomasnet.com/5-reasons-to-be-thankful-for-nasa?utm_content=10074987&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter#.VHaSTslNfLx Great job Rebecca!
NASA Armstrong has a Flickr account and they have posted photos taken on Tuesday November 18, 2014 and Wednesday November 19, 2014 of my #flyNASA Social Media event. I have found all the ones that I am in or a part of me is in (back of the head, hand, nose, etc). All photos of the event can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasaarmstrong/