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Fri, December 15 2017

How Star Wars Revolutionized Entertainment

The three ways that the Star Wars franchised changed the entertainment business. 

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Scale model of the "Star Wars" movie character R2-D2.
Thu, December 14 2017

That’s no moon. (It's also not the Death Star.)

With its spherical shape and piecemeal construction, it’s easy to see similarities between the Telstar satellite on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the infamous Death Star of the Star Wars films. Aside from a passing resemblance in design, both pieces of technology also address a larger question that has been a focal point for humankind in reality and fantasy: what does space mean for humanity?

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Telstar
Wed, December 13 2017

Light Speed Delivery: The Smithsonian’s R2-D2 Mailbox

On display in a galaxy not so far, far away: the National Postal Museum's R2-D2 mailbox, currently on view at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

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The R2-D2 mailbox on display at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
Tue, December 12 2017

How Astronauts Return to Earth

If you were freefalling back to Earth from space, would you want to rely on a couple of parachutes and some rockets to protect you from crashing? As crazy as it sounds, that is what allows astronauts aboard the Russian Soyuz capsules to safely return to Earth.

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Astronaut Randy Bresnik Aboard the ISS
Mon, December 11 2017

"We Choose to go to the Moon:" JFK's Moon Shot

As the American space program once again looks toward the Moon, we revisit President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 challenge to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth.

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Apollo 11: Buzz Aldrin and the U.S. flag on the Moon
Wed, December 6 2017

How Iceland Helps us Understand Saturn’s Icy Moon

This past August, CEPS scientists traveled to Iceland to study geologic features known as pit chains, which form in a similar way to pit chains on Saturn’s icy moon, Enceladus.

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Saturn's Satellite Enceladus
Mon, December 4 2017

Photos from the ISS

Did you know that some of the coolest photos of Earth from space were not actually taken by satellites? Many were taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). In fact, part of the astronaut training program focuses on how to take photos in space.

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A photo of an aurora over Scotland taken by NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik aboard the International Space Station, November 24, 2017.
Fri, December 1 2017

Celebrating Moments of Ingenuity

This month, the Smithsonian has been highlighting moments of ingenuity—trendsetters, groundbreakers, and individuals whose work embodies the spirit of innovation. As part of the Smithsonian Ingenuity Festival, the National Air and Space Museum celebrated the next generation of space and aviation pioneers, and those in history who paved the way.

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Ingenuity Festival
Thu, November 30 2017

The Fun of Finding Exoplanets

Using satellites and robotic rovers, we’ve learned quite a few details about the various planets orbiting our Sun. But what about other stars? What are their planets like? How weird do they get? It turns out, pretty weird.

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Kepler Mission
Wed, November 29 2017

Hydrogen-Powered Cars Hitting the Road

Sustainable energy has been at the heart of modern innovations large and small, from efficient light bulbs in living rooms to solar panels powering buildings. One of the newest breakthroughs in energy technology can often be found zipping around the streets in front of the Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington, DC—a car powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

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A fuel cell car being filled at a hydrogen pump.

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