‘Plantary Citizen’

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.

ISA Day #1

I am off to New Orleans to attend and present a paper at the ISA (International Studies Association) 56th Annual Convention ‘Global IR and Regional Worlds: A New Agenda for International Studies’ February 18th-21st, 2015, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Traveling to New Orleans was a day of extremes. Leaving Minnesota the temperature was -10 (the windchill was in the -30s) and arriving in New Orleans the temperature was 52. I also crossed the Mississippi River at the top and then I crossed the Mississippi River at the bottom. After some issues with my hotel room (followed later by more issues with no heat and no internet) and I finally got my room with a river view. There is just something so calming about watching the ships sail by. I caught up with some people from my PhD program (its always nice to see everyone) and then I went to attend one of the panels at the conference as the theme was Game of Thrones (GOT)! The official title of the panel was ‘Game of Thrones and World Politics: Empirical Investigations.’ I had some issues finding the room, so after I arrived I asked a women sitting in front of me if this was the GOT panel room and she said ‘the costumes didn’t give it away’? Costumes? What costumes? YES, most of the panelist were IN COSTUME as characters from GOT. The moderators were even dressed up: Charli Carpenter was dressed as Daenerys Targaryen and Daniel Drezner (of ‘Theories of International Politics and Zombies’ fame) was dressed as Jon Snow. The panel also had a Robb Stark, Tywin Lannister, Cersei Lannister, and a few people that did not dress-up. It was a fun panel and had about 50 people in attendance, which is rock star attendance for a conference. Food, Starbucks, walking around the Hurrah’s Casino (sadly too tired to gamble), and finishing my PowerPoint presentation for tomorrow rounded out the night. Coolest thing of the day: I also bought a Twitter bird voodoo doll!

Outside the Spacecraft Social Group Photo

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/)

National Air and Space Museum!

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!

Outside the Spacecraft Social: 50 Years of EVA

Today is Outside the Spacecraft Social!!!

After arriving and signing in I was giving an official schedule and badge!

10:00 Check-in and introductions in the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall
10:30 Welcome by General Dailey in Outside the Spacecraft
10:35 Speakers: Dr. Jennifer Levasseur, Lisa Young, and Richard Bentham
11:50 Speaker: James H. Ragan
12:10 Free time to explore the exhibition
12:30 Speaker: NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria
12:55 Group Photo
1:00 Program concludes

We were welcomed by General John R. Dailey, the Director of the Air and Space Museum. He told us that there are more than 60,000 items in the Air and Space Museum, but many items are ‘big’ ones (his favorite item is a Boeing F4B-4 like his father flew in WWII)! General Dailey also mentioned the importance of education, science, STEM, social media, and Twitter! Then we did introductions: the 15 people were selected to attend the social (out of the 100+ that applied) and others that either helped create the exhibit or were from the Smithsonian, and then Dr Jennifer Levasseur- the Curator of the exhibit, and Lisa Young- the Conservator, took us around the exhibit and discussed the objects. Its amazing all that they do to protect and preserve the objects for future generations, while at the same time wanting to show and display them and make them accessible to the public. Its a fine line between trying to preserve them and keeping their history and context intact. For example a few objects have lunar dust on them and they want to keep the ‘moon dirt’ on the boots, gloves, and bags and yet at the same time present them in a nice way to the public.

Some fun space facts I learned today:

-Russian Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov was the first human to do a spacewalk on March 18, 1965
-Ed White was the first American to do a spacewalk, from the Gemini IV capsule on June 3, 1965
-Ed White’s spacesuit is too badly degraded to be displayed
-Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria holds the NASA record for longest spacewalk time, at 67 hours and 40 minutes
-Kathy Sullivan was the first American woman to walk in space. Her space glove had a Kevlar palm which could stop a bullet, but not the friction of movement & space!
-Spacesuits expand outside the capsule and getting them back in was tricky
-Some objects from space still have moon dust on them and some in the museum have not been opened since they came back to Earth in the 1970s
-Spacesuits are uncomfortable. Period. Many astronauts have shoulder issues and some need surgery later on
-A lot of astronauts get black fingernails after an EVA (spacewalk) due to friction inside glove when moving their hands
-The human body is not designed to be in space
-There are 400 spacesuit gloves in the Air and Space Museum collection
-The blue tips you see on the tips of space gloves are thermal heaters
-Eugene Cernan’s space boots were the last boots on the moon to make footprints and they came back with space dust on them
-Hamilton & Rolex watches failed NASA’s testing, but OMEGA watches worked and 96 were purchased by NASA (where they were assigned to a specific astronauts, who had to give them back before they went home for the day, as they were government property) and they kept recycling them. One and only one person was contracted to clean and fix them. Also astronaut watches are water-proof, shock-proof, anti-magnetic, do temps 0-200°F & 12 g
-The difference between Russian & US spacesuits are that Russian design leans toward natural materials and the US design leans toward synthetic
-Every astronaut wears four gloves: a comfort glove, pressure bladder, restraint, and protective cover
-Spacesuits smell (apparently you can smell them as soon as you enter their storage area) because of off-gassing of polymers in the suit and the gasses also affect aluminum that are in the suits
-Space gloves are designed so that astronauts have enough tactile response so that they could work with the smallest screws. Originally NASA created molds of astronaut hands, but today they are adjustable and can be used by many astronauts
-The 1st spacesuits didn’t have cooling system, that came later
-When the seamstresses were sewing the original spacesuits one layer was made of a special metallic fabric (like chain mail) and it was $60 a yard! The fabric was locked up when not in use.
-The Air and Space Museum has over 2,500 pieces of space artwork
-The Air and Space Museum is the world’s leading expert on spacesuit conservation
-The Smithsonian did not think Air and Space Museum would work (General Dailey mentioned this)

I asked a few questions along the way. The first one was to Conservator Lisa Young and I asked were: “Do spacesuits smell?” Yes they do. The next questions was to James H. Ragan, former NASA engineer (and the first person to select music for the astronauts) and now with OMEGA watches “If you had to put the exploded watches back together how long would it take?.” Ragan asked Petros Protopapas from the OMEGA Museum and who said that if he had his best watchmaker working on it, and he was not interrupted, it would take about a week. My last question was to retired NASA Astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria (holder of the NASA record of the most time on spacewalks) and I asked “Well I know no one can hear you scream in space, but you probably get that question a lot” and he just looks at me and said no. Ok. Silence. And then I start to babble and talk really fast (as I do when I get nervous) “You know its the sci-fi movie reference no one can hear you scream in space” and then I launch into my question “Well, my question is did you sing or talk when you were on a spacewalk or did you hear command or is it just silent?” Lopez-Alegria replied that the microphone is really close to the mouth and picks up every little thing (and no signing or humming) and then he went on to talk about a few microphone oops. So it ended up being a good question after all, despite my sci-fi joke that no one got. Next it was time for a photo in-front of the Glove Helix display and then Lopez-Alegria signed photos for us. He did not have time to take personal photos, so many of us did selfies! I thought that the social would be longer, but it was only officially until 1pm, but there was so much information thrown at you that it seemed much longer. It was an incredible event showcasing a fantastic exhibit which combines the art, beauty, technology, and science of 50 years of spacewalking.

Here is the website for the exhibit http://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/outside-the-spacecraft/online/ and a YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ-lwySPEiI&feature=youtu.be

Outside the Spacecraft Social

Today I traveled to Washington DC for tomorrows ‘Outside the Spacecraft Social’ social media event at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

The flight was fine except Washington DC received a few (as in 1 – 3) inches of snow and the whole city freaked out. When we landed in DC the plane ended up being trapped on the taxiway for almost 2 hours due to what sounded like a comedy of errors and at one point was way to close to another plane. It was when the flight attendants started to handout water and power bars I knew we were in for trouble. Eventually we were freed from the airplane and I checked into my hotel and when went for a walk around the National Mall. The Capital was very lovely in the snow and it was amazing how few people were out and about in the snow and cold. I stopped at the National Gallery of Art and look at art works by El Greco, da Vinci, Rembrandt, the divine Raphael, Picasso, Pollock, Rothko, Degas, etc. I saw a woman try to touch the Pollock, only to have the security guard yell at her. I had been taking photos in a few gallerias and no guards had said anything, so when I tried to take a photo of the Pollock that same yelling security guard yelled at me too. Hehe. Hay, if your going to be yelled at by a security guard, the National Gallery of Art is the place to be. I then kept walking up the Mall and eventually made it to the Washington Monument, but could go no further due to the cold, setting sun, my lingering cold, and my back and foot pain, so I did not make it to the Lincoln Memorial, which was disappointing. So I flagged down a taxi in a no stopping zone and took it back to the hotel.

Outside the Spacecraft Social at the National Air and Space Museum

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:


“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/).

5 Reasons to be Thankful for NASA

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!