Falcon Heavy

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy lifted off today. It would have been better to be in Florida, but I live-streamed from the comfort of my computer and it was still amazing and beautiful. And the two boosters landing at the same time? Wickedly cool. A truly historic flight. Plus there is now a little red car floating in space on its way to Mars.

Goodbye Cassini

Every time we see Saturn in the night sky, we’ll remember. We’ll smile and we’ll want to go back. 13 amazing years exploring the planet with @CassiniSaturn #GrandFinale #GoodbyeCassini #Cassini. All images are from @NASA. The blue dot is us, so small and alone in the universe. The middle photograph is the last image Cassini took. The third and fourth photos just shows off the beautiful rings.

 

 

 

 

 

All aboard for Mars!

My boarding pass for Mars!

The boarding pass is for NASA’s InSight lander, scheduled for launch in March, 2016 and it “will listen to the heart of Mars to find the beat of rocky planet formation.” #JourneyToMars

Here are also my Frequent Flyer Miles!

Pluto!

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)

Pluto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)

 

Space

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.

‘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.

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!