As a volunteer at the National Air and Space Museum, I’ve been talking to visitors about astronomy for 28 years. Right now is an exciting time to be volunteering here thanks to the total solar eclipse that will happen this summer. As an astronomy enthusiast and an eclipse chaser, I have some great advice to share on how best to view the 2017 eclipse.
From dashing off a quick note to creating painstaking calligraphy, we often take writing for granted. But in space, where the stakes are high, how does one write? After all, the ink in pens isn’t held down by gravity, so how do you write upside down?
My threshold for thrill-seeking ends at the Cyclone on Coney Island. It’s why astronauts have always captivated me. They are people who have said YES to travelling around the Earth at a top speed of 28,000 kilometers (17,500 miles) per hour; YES to being strapped to a launch vehicle that can consume more than 1.59 million kilograms (3.5 million pounds) of fuel in just 8 ½ minutes; and YES to calling the vacuum of space home for increasingly longer periods of time. They have made a career out of taking calculated risks. And they have worked tirelessly and competed aggressively to do so.
Last week a United States’ “hit-to-kill vehicle” intercepted and destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time during a test. Until fifteen years ago, however, anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs) like the one just tested were banned under the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by the United States and Soviet Union in 1972.
When John Grant was only 16, the Viking landers were sent to Mars. Today, Grant helps lead the operation groups controlling two Mars rovers, Opportunity and Curiosity, as a geologist at the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies. Recent data collected by Curiosity and published in Science describes an ancient lake environment located at Gale Crater—an environment Grant, a coauthor of the article, believes holds further clues to whether there was ever life on the Red Planet.
The first images produced by the Hubble Space Telescope were fuzzy and unclear due to a problem with its optical system. While the media had a field day with this “Hubble Trouble,” NASA had an opportunity to prove that they could fix the telescope in orbit, a task that was uniquely incorporated into the Hubble’s design. Astronauts were able to repair the telescope, and soon after, the Hubble Space Telescope was producing stellar images.
Until recently, our largest and most-used archival collection, The Technical Reference Files, did not have an online finding aid. As the majority of the Archives Department’s public reference requests (of which we receive over 2,300 a year) can be answered using material in these files, we are delighted to finally enable researchers to search the listings of this valuable collection.
All Quiet on the Western Front, based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Erich Maria Remarque, is still considered one of the best films ever made in the war movie genre. Released in 1930, All Quiet on the Western Front was a reflection of the profound disillusionment with war in the post-World War I (WWI) era. It was the first significant anti-war movie, exploring the war’s physical and psychological impact on a generation lost to war.
When Charles Lindbergh was asked by Pan American Airlines to conduct survey flights, there was no doubt in his mind who would be his copilot: his wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh. In 1931 and 1933, Charles and Anne set off to determine where air routes and airports might be located. Anne learned Morse code and how to operate radios for the flight. She became so talented at this work that she won awards for distance flights and radio operation.
Today, when you fly to Europe you’re still using some of the same routes that Charles and Anne surveyed.