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Fri, September 15 2017

Our Favorite Saturn Discoveries from Cassini 

At the end of the NASA Cassini spacecraft's 13-year mission, National Air and Space Museum scientists and educators are reflecting on what this mission has meant to them.

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Our Favorite Saturn Discoveries from Cassini 

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Cassini Grand Finale
Thu, September 14 2017

Saying Goodbye to the Saturn-Exploring Cassini

I think it surprises a lot of people that a mission as successful as the Cassini-Huygens Mission would be terminated on purpose. Not just shutting the spacecraft off, but terminated with such style by sending it on a destructive dive into Saturn’s atmosphere. Cassini will burn up and be destroyed in a similar way that a meteorite is broken up in Earth’s atmosphere.

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Saturn Captured by the Cassini Spacecraft
Tue, September 12 2017

Astronaut Shares How to Get to Space

Can you imagine your teacher being chosen to be a NASA astronaut? Students in Joe Acaba’s secondary math and science classes in Florida can. Acaba was one of 11 candidates selected for the 2004 astronaut class. The process to become an astronaut is one of the most competitive and highly selective processes in the world. Do you think you have what it takes?

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Selfie with Astronaut Joe Acaba
Mon, September 11 2017

Sharing the Story of the World War I Gallipoli Campaign 

Gallipoli sets a classic tale of innocence lost in war during the World War I (WWI) Gallipoli Campaign against the Ottoman Empire (modern-day Turkey). One of the few Hollywood movies to illustrate that WWI took place not only on the Western Front in France, Gallipoli tells the story of this major campaign through the experience of several Australian young men who travel halfway around the globe to fight for their country.

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Sharing the Story of the World War I Gallipoli Campaign 

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Beyond the Western Front: A Film About WWI's Gallipoli Campaign
Thu, September 7 2017

Documenting America’s First Naval Aviation Reserve Unit

“The Millionaires’ Unit” was a moniker given by the New York press to group of wealthy Yale students who formed a private air militia in 1916 to learn to fly in preparation for the United States entering World War I. Author and historian Marc Wortman wrote a book about them in 2006, and a college friend of mine, Ron King, saw his grandfather’s face on the book’s cover. The archival material seemed rich, and we decided to make a documentary.

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Documenting America’s First Naval Aviation Reserve Unit
Wed, August 30 2017

Inventing the Airplane, Changing the World

Orville and Wilbur Wright got involved in aviation in the late 1890s. They realized that the airplane was not one invention but many inventions that all needed to work in concert for the machine to be successful. Each year they experimented, the brothers developed answers to questions like propulsion, control, structures, and aerodynamics. On December 17, 1903, on the beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the world’s first airplane lifted off and changed the world forever. Do you know how long that first flight lasted?   The Wright brothers’ first flight lasted only 12 seconds, but their fourth flight lasted 59 seconds and demonstrated that the brothers had created a true airplane. 

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Front of the 1903 Wright Flyer
Fri, August 25 2017

The Powerful and Fast P-51 Mustang

The P-51 Mustang was originally designed for the Royal Air Force. However, it became a long-range escort fighter for the U.S. armed forces against Nazi Germany. The production process was efficient and quick; about 14,000 were built during WWII. It was a powerful and fast aircraft with extensive range. The P-51 Mustang was stiff competition for the Luftwaffe. 

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North American P-51 Mustang
Thu, August 17 2017

Limited Edition: Total Solar Eclipses

You’ve probably heard a lot about the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. You may have also heard that solar eclipses are a rare phenomenon. Total solar eclipses (when the Moon completely covers the Sun) occur approximately once every year and a half—that works out to two to three eclipses of all kinds each year and only two total solar eclipses every three years. This might not sound so rare to you, but the shadow the Moon casts on the Earth is, at most, 274 kilometers (170 miles) across. That shadow covers roughly 37,015 square kilometers (23,000 square miles) at any one time: only 0.01% of the total surface area of Earth! At most, a total eclipse can last about 7 minutes in one place, so the chances of a total solar eclipse coming to you during your lifetime are pretty low. For instance, the last total solar eclipse that passed through Washington, D.C. was in 1478, and the next one is not coming until 2444!

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Moon's Shadow Over Earth
Thu, August 17 2017

Beyond Totality: Appreciating the Partial Eclipse

Here we are, less than one week until a total solar eclipse crosses the United States. For the past three years, my excitement has been building, and all of my eclipse-chaser friends have been saying, “You HAVE to go see totality!” The path of totality (the narrow region where the Sun will appear totally blocked) is relatively convenient for North Americans, but many people won’t be able to travel and witness the total phase of the eclipse.

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Partial Eclipse
Tue, August 15 2017

Road Trip to Totality

On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse is sweeping the nation. All of North America will be able to see at least a partial eclipse, but 14 states across the U.S. will have the unique opportunity to see a total solar eclipse, called the path of totality. There are approximately 12.5 million people living in the path of totality—an occurrence that happens only once where you live every 375 years! On the day of the eclipse, STEM in 30, a TV show we produce at the National Air and Space Museum for middle school students, will be broadcasting live from the path of totality in Liberty, Missouri, starting at 1:30 pm EST.

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Space Acorn

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