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February 02, 2021
Alluvial Fans and Deltas: Windows into the Late Climate History of Mars
A new global inventory of landforms created by water on Mars confirms they are more common than previously reported. Many of these landforms formed late in Mars’ history, which tells us that the timeframe that Mars may have been habitable for life lasted longer than we previously thought.
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A multicolor map showing two circular craters on Mars.
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January 28, 2021
Commemorating the 35th Anniversary of Challenger
On January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger was set to launch on STS-51-L, on a mission to observe and track Halley’s Comet—73 seconds after launch, the shuttle disintegrated, ending the lives of all seven crew members. The disaster was most heavily felt in the space community and even in the realm of the cultural arts. Particularly, famed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke and astronaut Sally K. Ride had their own respective responses to this tragedy.
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STS 51-L Challenger mission patch
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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