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Mon, January 8 2018

Finding the Alphabet from Space

NASA Earth Observatory science writer Adam Voiland has searched through thousands of NASA’s satellite images and astronaut photography, looking for the entire alphabet in images taken from space.

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The letter B, found in an image of the Arkansas River and the Holla Bend Wildlife Refuge.
Thu, December 14 2017

That’s no moon. (It's also not the Death Star.)

With its spherical shape and piecemeal construction, it’s easy to see similarities between the Telstar satellite on display at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and the infamous Death Star of the Star Wars films. Aside from a passing resemblance in design, both pieces of technology also address a larger question that has been a focal point for humankind in reality and fantasy: what does space mean for humanity?

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Fri, November 17 2017

Where in the World?

Get a more in-depth look at orbital imagery during National Geography Awareness Week, with the National Air and Space Museum's Geography from Space.

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Geography from Space
Tue, November 1 2016

Spaceflight to Parade Float

Visitors to the newly renovated Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall may miss one particular satellite hanging amongst historical heavyweights such as the Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis and the Lunar Module LM-2. This object, however, with its distinctive blue solar panels deployed, is a full-scale engineering prototype of Mariner 2, the first spacecraft to radio useful scientific data from the vicinity of another planet, Venus.

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The Venus of Pasadena Rose Bowl float
Fri, October 17 2014

New Satellite Image of Out of Many, One

Out Of Many, One by Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is a large-scale portrait, made of sand and soil, temporarily displayed on the National Mall for the month of October.

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Satellite Image of "Out Of Many, One"
Thu, May 16 2013

GPS – A Hollywood Actress, a Player Piano, and Hip-Hop

Given the enormous popularity of GPS among civilian users, and the critical applications for the military, it is not surprising that a large body of literature has arisen about the origins of this remarkable technology. The curators of the new Time and Navigation exhibition discuss this history, and we have illustrated it with a few select artifacts, such as the engineering model of the Navy’s NTS-2 satellite, one of the key demonstrators of the technology that led to the deployment of the GPS constellation.

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Hedy Lamarr's patent
Tue, January 15 2013

Reflections on "Explore the Universe" 2001-2012

One of the jokes I inherited from my student years is the final exam question "Describe the Universe" which was followed by "and give two examples."

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Magellanic Clouds
Fri, December 28 2012

Shiny Delivery this Holiday Season for the Time and Navigation Exhibition

Preparation of the upcoming Time and Navigation exhibition is in full swing, and objects are being installed in cases throughout the gallery.  In fact, the gallery became a little more shiny just in time for the holiday season thanks to a delivery from our friends at the Naval Research Laboratory.

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NTS-2 Satellite
Fri, October 5 2012

Are You Sure You Want to Donate This?

“Are you sure you want to donate this?” I asked the intern. “This” was a slightly-used Smartphone, in perfect working condition. The intern, Rebecca Bacheller, was, indeed, willing to donate it. She heard that the Time and Navigation team wanted to disassemble one and showcase the current state of geolocation devices, enabled by the Global Positioning System and other advanced electronics. Our plan was to label the phone’s circuits, and show how they correspond to classical methods of navigation that had been practiced for centuries. Becky was excited that she would be credited in the label; she also had another motive: namely a reason to trade up to the newest version of the popular phone.

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SINS Typewriter
Mon, July 23 2012

Telstar and the World of 1962

Last week, the Museum recognized the 50th anniversary of Telstar, the first “active” satellite (one that can receive a radio signal from a ground station and then immediately re-transmit it to another) and the first technology of any kind that enabled transatlantic television transmissions.  In 1962, both accomplishments generated intense interest, excitement, and commentary.

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