Topic

Exploration

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Thu, September 14 2017

Saying Goodbye to the Saturn-Exploring Cassini

I think it surprises a lot of people that a mission as successful as the Cassini-Huygens Mission would be terminated on purpose. Not just shutting the spacecraft off, but terminated with such style by sending it on a destructive dive into Saturn’s atmosphere. Cassini will burn up and be destroyed in a similar way that a meteorite is broken up in Earth’s atmosphere.

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Saturn Captured by the Cassini Spacecraft
Thu, August 17 2017

Beyond Totality: Appreciating the Partial Eclipse

Here we are, less than one week until a total solar eclipse crosses the United States. For the past three years, my excitement has been building, and all of my eclipse-chaser friends have been saying, “You HAVE to go see totality!” The path of totality (the narrow region where the Sun will appear totally blocked) is relatively convenient for North Americans, but many people won’t be able to travel and witness the total phase of the eclipse.

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Partial Eclipse
Tue, August 15 2017

Road Trip to Totality

On Monday, August 21, a total solar eclipse is sweeping the nation. All of North America will be able to see at least a partial eclipse, but 14 states across the U.S. will have the unique opportunity to see a total solar eclipse, called the path of totality. There are approximately 12.5 million people living in the path of totality—an occurrence that happens only once where you live every 375 years! On the day of the eclipse, STEM in 30, a TV show we produce at the National Air and Space Museum for middle school students, will be broadcasting live from the path of totality in Liberty, Missouri, starting at 1:30 pm EST.

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Space Acorn
Tue, August 15 2017

Seeing the Solar Eclipse from Orbit

On Monday, August 21, Astronaut Randy “Komrade” Bresnik will have an unbelievable view of the solar eclipse, set to pass across the United States. Bresnik will watch the solar eclipse from the International Space Station (ISS)—he should be in orbit over the U.S. at exactly the right moment. 

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Path of Totality
Thu, August 10 2017

Hidden Figures Inspiring Girls in STEM

Throughout history, women have often received less credit for similar work as their male counterparts. This includes the inventions of the computer and the internet, both of which can be attributed to female innovators. In order to shed further light on these women, we wanted to introduce to you just a few of those who were pivotal to the way we live today, but were “erased” from history books:

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Header for Women in STEM Visual Essay
Tue, August 8 2017

Viewing A Solar Eclipse Safely through an Artist’s Eye

In this Van Dyke Brown photographic print from the from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum art collection, Jim Leisy (1950 – 2014) shows us one way to safely view a solar eclipse.  On first glance we see an unidentified person wandering aimlessly in a dreamy atmosphere with a box over their head. As the title Solar Eclipse suggests, the cosmic observer is actually catching a glimpse of the fleeting phenomenon with a pinhole projector.

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Solar Eclipse by Jim Leisy
Fri, July 28 2017

How the World Explores Space Together

You’ve probably heard of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but have you heard of the Italian Space Agency or the European Space Agency? NASA works with these groups, among others, to explore the frontiers of space together. It wasn’t always this way; Russia and the United States both devoted countless resources to beating each other to space in the 1960s. But today, through shared missions and space stations, we work cooperatively to explore the final frontier.

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Final Configuration of the ISS
Tue, July 25 2017

Learn How to Launch Your Own Rocket, Then See the Real Thing

It’s unusual to know someone whose job includes sitting on top of a rocket awaiting launch into low Earth orbit. But on the morning of July 28, 2017, my colleague Marty Kelsey and I will watch a live broadcast of Randy “Komrade” Bresnik’s launch into space for the second time in his career. We met Bresnik earlier this year while he was training in Houston.

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Soyuz Rocket
Wed, June 14 2017

Advice From An Eclipse Chaser

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. 

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Volunteer Attends 1991 Solar Eclipse
Wed, June 7 2017

What the Next Astronaut Class Can Learn From Veteran Space Travelers

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.

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NASA Astronaut Class 2017

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