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Fri, December 30 2016

Your Favorites Stories from 2016

Over the last year, we’ve shared more than 160 stories with you on our blog, and now featured prominently on our website. What were your favorites? According to our calculations, stories about Star Trek tipped the scales, but a few other topics squeezed their way onto our list. For 2016, here are our 10 most popular stories. 

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Enterprise Model Components
Sat, December 24 2016

Merry Christmas Astronauts

In the early 1960s, the Project Mercury astronauts were celebrities in their own right, receiving bags of fan mail. One Christmas, Scott Carpenter received Christmas wishes featuring a model rocket, an American flag, and the sign, “Merry Christmas Astronauts.”  Carpenter received a photo of the scene and a note that read: “Best wishes to Navy Lt. Malcolm S. Carpenter from Mrs. L. T. Burns…Wichita Falls, Texas.”

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Merry Christmas Astronauts
Wed, December 14 2016

An Unlikely Comparison: A Subway Car, the Enterprise, and Mir Space Station

“Doors Closing!” Those of us from the Washington, DC region recognize that phrase whenever we ride the Washington Metro. That recorded voice is typically followed by another stern voice, “STAND CLEAR OF THE DOORS!” It doesn’t seem to do much good; there are always one or two passengers who insist on standing in front of the doors, blocking the way for those who wish to get on or off.

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Inside the Mir Space Station
Thu, December 8 2016

What Would an Alien Spaceship Look Like?

What would a spacecraft carrying aliens to first contact with Earth look like? In Arrival (2016), director Denis Villeneuve’s creative imagination of alien ships arriving at Earth, 12 large, dark, smooth, elongated ships hover effortlessly, without any visible means of propulsion, over far-flung sites on Earth. In response, in the United States, the military and the State Department engage linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to help communicate with the inhabitants. The spaceships themselves present an appearance as inscrutable as the aliens themselves initially are. When the team led by Colonel GT Weber (Forest Whitaker) enters one of them, the roughly textured surfaces of the exterior and walls suggest wear or aging but offer no specific clues about the interior, the ship’s inhabitants, or, most important, their intentions. The resulting narrative of first contact, adapted as a screenplay by Eric Heisserer from a short story by Ted Chiang, proves satisfying, offering a thoughtful consideration of language, communication, and meaning.

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Mother Ship Model - Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Udvar-Hazy Ctr
Sun, December 4 2016

Spacecraft Cookie Jar

Although sources may argue on the origins of National Cookie Day, two things are sugar-crystal clear: cookies are darn good, and the internet seems to agree that today is the day to celebrate them. In the 1960s, David McMahon and his family could have celebrated properly with a batch of chocolate chip cookies safely stored in this Mercury Friendship 7 cookie jar.

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Mercury Friendship 7 Cookie Jar
Wed, November 23 2016

A Collector's Passion for Early Ballooning

As SpongeBob and Turkey shaped-balloons float their way down Central Park West for the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade this morning, we’re reminded of someone from the past who had a great interest in ballooning. Evelyn Way Kendall was a prolific collector of balloon-themed objects, and had perhaps the largest collection of such items in the nation. But what inspired her to amass such a collection?

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Evelyn Way Kendall
Wed, November 2 2016

Presidents in Flight

The National Air and Space Museum Archives' collections feature documents and images of the United States presidents, as they relate to aviation and space flight, from George Washington to George H.W. Bush.

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Theodore Roosevelt - First Presidential Flight, 1910
Fri, October 21 2016

Your Captions: Merrill and Princess Doreen

Last week we asked you to caption a number of intriguing images, and we promised to share more about each photo in the coming weeks. Let’s kick off with this ferociously furry snapshot.

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Henry Tyndall "Dick" Merrill and Princess Doreen
Thu, October 20 2016

Reports of UFOs: 1947 Roswell Incident

In this 2011 Ask an Expert talk, Dr. Roger Launius explores the 1947 Roswell Incident, an event that entangled the United States Army in UFO conspiracy theories that persist to this day.

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Roswell Daily Record
Fri, September 23 2016

Creating the Klingon Language

STEM in 30 host Beth Wilson talks with the creator of the Klingon language, Marc Okrand, on how to create an alien language. ...

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Marc Okrand Interview

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