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Thu, January 18 2018

How Many Missions Did Flak-Bait Fly?

Flak-Bait, the museum’s Martin B-26 Marauder bomber, flew more combat missions than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II. But how many missions did it participate in exactly?

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Martin B-26B Marauder Flak-Bait
Wed, January 10 2018

Remembering Bruce McCandless II

Bruce McCandless II (1937-2017) is immortalized in this iconic photograph of an astronaut flying solo high above Earth. He was the first human being to do a spacewalk without a safety tether linked to a spacecraft.

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Astronaut Bruce McCandless II.
Mon, January 8 2018

Finding the Alphabet from Space

NASA Earth Observatory science writer Adam Voiland has searched through thousands of NASA’s satellite images and astronaut photography, looking for the entire alphabet in images taken from space.

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The letter B, found in an image of the Arkansas River and the Holla Bend Wildlife Refuge.
Fri, January 5 2018

Today, Mars is warmer than Earth. See how we compare.

The northeastern United States is experiencing record-breaking cold weather, with temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below average, according to the National Weather Service. Those are temperatures so frigid that parts of Mars—a cold, desert planet—are actually warmer than certain spots in the U.S. But how does Mars’ climate compare to that of our home planet?

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Viking Orbiter 1 Mosaic of Mars
Wed, January 3 2018

A Supersun (And Why It Doesn’t Mean Summer Weather)

If you looked up at the sky on January 1, you might have witnessed something spectacular--the Moon kicked off the year with the biggest full moon of 2018, a supermoon. But what about the Sun; did you know that it can be super, too?

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The “supersun” of January 2, 2018.
Thu, December 21 2017

An Aviation Christmas Card Carol

‘Tis the season for holiday cards.  Many cards feature photos of families and pets dressed in festive (maybe even matching) outfits.  Aviators, on the other hand, celebrate their airplanes! The many collections in the National Air and Space Museum Archives are filled with enough cards to last well beyond the 12 days of Christmas.

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G.M. Bellanca Christmas Card
Wed, December 20 2017

Preserving a 170 Year-Old Chinese Kite Collection

Conservation work is continuing on the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s collection of traditional Chinese paper kites at our Emil Buehler Conservation Lab.

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Working on the kite while it was in the humidification chamber helped promote removal of stubborn tape adhesive.
Wed, December 20 2017

Top Five Stories of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, let’s revisit some of our favorite stories of the year: stories of solar eclipses, scientific women, the Spitfire, and spacecraft.

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Solar Eclipse
Wed, December 20 2017

Star Wars: A Merchandising Empire

In 1977, Star Wars: A New Hope, the first installment on George Lucas’s famous Star Wars film series, became one of the biggest box office hits of all time. It also gave rise to an innovative mass-marketing campaign for toys and other products that became an industry model.

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A set of Star Wars toys manufactured for the release of The Empire Strikes Back, 1980.
Mon, December 18 2017

The Study of Flying Saucer Sightings

The phenomenon of contact with aliens has its own history. It was not always the case that those contending they had an encounter with extraterrestrials described the experiences as coercive and frightening. On the contrary, in the decade and a half after the first reports of flying saucer sightings in 1947, most prominent stories of close encounters of the third kind described the aliens as inviting, friendly, and kind.

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A hypothetical alien spacecraft for the National Air and Space Museum’s “Life in the Universe” exhibit.

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