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January 28, 2021
Challenger: A Moment in our Personal and Shared Memories
Seventy-three seconds after launch, Challenger was destroyed on live TV. We did not understand what we saw: Our teachers could not explain it, our parents were unlikely to have better answers, and few of us probably spent time paying attention to what transpired afterwards in terms of the official investigation. The Challenger disaster symbolizes a moment in our personal and shared memories when we felt great sorrow together.
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A rocket launches with a plum of smoke.
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January 28, 2021
Bonus! To Gaze
Over the summer we collaborated with the artist Diplo on a companion album to his new record MMXX. It’s called Under Ancient Skies and it’s available wherever you stream music. But we also created an audio tour of the night sky for a series of small, outdoor concerts Diplo performed.
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Purple and pink logo of AirSpace
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January 27, 2021
Imagining Faster-Than-Light Travel
After the 1950s, fictional depictions of space travel needed to suggest conceivable ways to cross interstellar distances to seem plausible. Some authors suggested faster-than-light drives, hyper drives, jump drives, worm holes, and black holes.
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Star Trek Enterprise Model
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January 22, 2021
Mars Project: Wernher von Braun as a Science-Fiction Writer
Wernher von Braun was a superb engineering manager, an excellent pilot, and a decent pianist. In the U.S., he became a national celebrity while speaking and writing about spaceflight. But we don’t think him as a science-fiction writer.
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A painting depicting the Martian surface with spacecraft on it.
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January 19, 2021
Voyages to Mars: Searching
The search for life is a pillar of Mars exploration. But our search isn’t only confined to the planets of our solar system. Radio telescopes search for signals of intelligent life from far away planets, orbiting other stars. In his story, “The Great Silence,” science fiction author Ted Chiang features the Arecibo telescope as he considers the significance of the animal life that surrounds it.
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AirSpace presents "Voyage to Mars"
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January 14, 2021
Mercury, The Not So Shrunken Planet
Based on my research, which include image composites of two flyby views of Mercury from the MESSENGER spacecraft, I conclude that Mercury has not cooled and shrunken as much as previously thought.
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Composite of two flyby views of Mercury
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January 14, 2021
Bonus! AirSpace Presents NOVA Now
Satellites from NASA and private companies are making headlines. What’s their history and how might their future affect space and life here on Earth?
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Purple and pink logo of AirSpace
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January 08, 2021
George Robert Carruthers: Astronautical Engineer and Astronomer
Astronautical engineer and astronomer George Robert Carruthers, a name well-known and dearly regarded in the space science community, and a good friend of the National Air and Space Museum, passed away on Saturday, December 26 after a long illness.
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Carruthers holding film cassettes
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December 31, 2020
Celebrating the Holidays with Arthur C. Clarke
As I have been scanning the correspondence that science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke received over his lifetime, a constant staple of correspondence always crops up near the end of a year. These being the abundant number of Christmas cards Clarke would get around the holidays.
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Photo postcard. Left: beach with palm trees. Right graphic drawings of Santa Claus over preprinted text: "Merry Christmas" Handwritten signature. Preprinted text: "Arthur Clarke"
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December 30, 2020
Wonder Woman and the Smithsonian
Explore the history of Wonder Woman and the Smithsonian, including how Wonder Woman 1984 was filmed at three Smithsonian museums.
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Man stands in front of spacesuit replica