I’m an executive producer at Smithsonian Channel and I had the pleasure of making the documentary Making Tracks on Mars. We made our film feel like an adventure because most people think of Mars as a frontier, but at its core, the story taps into our primal drive to explore.
Pablo de León has been in the space business for nearly 20 years, working as a space project manager and spacesuit designer. De León spoke with visitors at the Museum in Washington, DC during our 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month: Innovators in Aviation and Space Heritage Family Day as part of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert series.
Being a member of a science team of a planetary mission is like being a starter on a major league baseball team—you’re in the game. That’s how I felt as a member of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. During the final months of MESSENGER’s time in orbit, before the fuel on the spacecraft was expended and crashed on Mercury’s surface, a decision had to be made—keep the spacecraft in its nominal mapping orbit as long as possible or let the spacecraft altitude drift lower to get as close to the planet as possible.
At the Museum we’re fortunate to host many of the nation’s aerospace icons. This was certainly the case earlier this year when Gemini 10 and Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins was on hand for our 2016 John H. Glenn Lecture, Spaceflight: Then, Now, Next.
Long before your laptop computer and the computers that took us to the Moon, there was another type of computer. In the early 20th century, women who made calculations and reduced astronomical data were known as “computers.” The hours were long and the pay was minimal. Their calculations, however, laid important groundwork for future astronomers and led to some of the most important astronomical discoveries.
Ever wondered how we move objects, what's not on display that we'd like to exhibit, or what rocks from the Moon feel like? #AskACurator Day on Twitter is your chance to get those burning questions answered about aviation, spaceflight, planetary science and more. Here is a selection of questions and answers that we will update throughout the day on September 14, 2016.
Tomorrow is Ask a Curator Day. From 8:00 am to 4:00 pm take to Twitter and ask us your most burning questions—include @airandspace and #AskACurator in your tweet. We’ll have curators, researchers, archivists, and museum specialists ready to answer your questions. What’s our favorite object? How do we move airplanes? What are we researching? We have answers.
Harrison “Jack” Schmitt was the first and last geologist to visit the Moon. Below is his secret chili recipe, served best with a side of tortilla chips and some space history. We can’t help with the chips, but we can tell you a little about this chili-making astronaut.
The annual Perseid meteor shower is at its peak (August 11-13). Meteor showers occur when the Earth’s orbit around the Sun takes us through a debris field, which is often a trail of cosmic dust left behind by a comet.
On this day in 1978, Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman took off from Presque Isle, Maine in the gas balloon Double Eagle II in an attempt to cross the Atlantic. The successful crossing took 137 hours, 6 minutes and covered 5,021 kilometers (3,120 miles) landing in a wheat field near Miserey, France.
On this day in 2011, Juno began its journey to Jupiter. After an almost five-year journey, the spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, and has since been investigating the planet's origins, interior structure, deep atmosphere and magnetosphere.