Topic

Exploration

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Thu, November 17 2016

How to View Our National Parks from Space

This week is National Geography Awareness Week, an opportunity to reflect on the significance of place and how we affect it. One fantastic way to explore geography is from above. When viewing the Earth from a high altitude or even from space, we can begin to see and record natural and man-made features and events. We can see the remains of civilizations and the aftermath of disasters.

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Grand Canyon
Wed, November 16 2016

Revealing Mercury’s Great Valley

At their core, planetary missions are about exploration, pure and simple. It’s hard to beat the excitement of discovering a new feature on the surface of a planet that’s being imaged by spacecraft for the first time. I had this experience many times during the MESSENGER mission.

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Mercury’s great valley revealed in new digital elevation model
Sun, November 13 2016

The Super Duper Moon

On Monday, November 14, the Moon will be full, and also near its closest approach to Earth. It’s a “supermoon,” appearing slightly bigger than a normal full Moon.

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Micromoon vs Supermoon
Fri, October 7 2016

A Quick History of Launch Escape Systems

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezo’s private rocket company, passed an in-flight test of its launch escape system Wednesday—a method of detaching a crew capsule from a launch rocket. The successful test moves Blue Origin one step closer to its goal of carrying tourists into space. How to bring crews safely back to Earth in the event something goes wrong during a launch has always been a concern. Launch escape systems have been engineered into nearly all ventures into space.

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Artist Rendering of Launch Escape
Thu, October 6 2016

Insights from a Planetary Spacesuit Designer

Pablo de León has been in the space business for nearly 20 years, working as a space project manager and spacesuit designer. De León will be speaking with visitors at the Museum in Washington, DC this Saturday at the 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.

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Testing the NDX-1 Spacesuit
Wed, September 28 2016

The Incredible, Still Shrinking Mercury

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.

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Topography of the Northern Hemisphere of Mercury
Tue, September 20 2016

Interview with Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins

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.

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Interviewing Apollo Astronaut Michael Collins
Fri, September 16 2016

From "Computer" to Astronomer: The Role of Women in Astronomy

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.

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Phoebe Waterman Haas Ascending Solar Tower
Wed, September 14 2016

Ask A Curator Day 2016 - Questions and Answers

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.

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Ask A Curator Day 2016 - Questions and Answers

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Removing the Sputnik Replica
Tue, September 13 2016

Getting a Head Start on #AskACurator Day

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.

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Examining an Engineering Drawing

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