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Space

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Fri, November 27 2015

Comparing Alan Eustace’s Spacesuit with Neil Armstrong’s

Our conservation team had the pleasure of hosting Alan Eustace, former Google executive, engineer, and stratospheric explorer, this month in the Emil Buehler Conservation Laboratory. Eustace and his StratEx team are well known for their three world records including one for the highest altitude jump at 41,422 meters (135,899 feet) in 2014. The adventurer was in town giving a lecture about his historic jump and to donate to the Museum the suit, life support, and balloon equipment module he used during the jump.

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Alan Eustace Visits the Conservation Labratory
Sat, November 21 2015

Remembering Robert Willard Farquhar

Known for devising innovative and intricate spacecraft trajectories, and for his whole-hearted dedication to robotic space exploration, Robert “Bob” Farquhar left a strong impression on the American space program. 

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Remembering Robert Willard Farquhar
Thu, November 12 2015

Transcribing Apollo Stowage Lists With Help from Volunteers

Apollo artifacts have begun to receive increased scrutiny in light of recent discussions about returning humans to the Moon and the upcoming 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo missions. What did astronauts of the 1960s and 1970s bring back from the Moon? What was left behind? And how can we verify the authenticity of any of those objects if they have been or will be recovered?

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Diagram from Apollo Handbook
Tue, November 10 2015

Mercury Primate Capsule and Ham the Astrochimp

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space. However, three months earlier NASA had launched “Number 65” on a mission that helped pave the way for Shephard’s momentous flight. Number 65 was a male chimpanzee born in 1957 in the French Cameroons in West Africa.

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NASA launched the chimpanzee Ham on a suborbital flight in January 1961.
Fri, November 6 2015

The Day I Helped President Obama Observe the Moon

I’ve done a lot of “cool” things as an educator at this Museum: performed a solar system dance with Miss America, chatted with astronauts, and given people their first awe-inspiring views through a telescope. But I have to say, my most recent experience was truly out of this world. On Monday, October 19, 2015, I participated in the second  Astronomy Night at the White House. This event is designed to get youth excited about astronomy, space exploration, science, and engineering. 

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President Obama With Telescope
Wed, October 14 2015

Apollo Guidance Computer and the First Silicon Chips

As the Apollo program took form in the early 1960s, NASA engineers always kept the safety of their astronauts at the fore in light of the enormous risks they knew were inherent in the goal of landing on the Moon and returning safely. Wherever possible, they designed backup systems so that if a primary system failed the crew would still have the means to return home safely. Sometimes creating a backup was not always practical. For example, the Service Module’s engine needed to fire while the crew was behind the Moon to place them in a trajectory that would return them to Earth. There was no practical backup if the engine failed. But even in that instance a plan was worked out to use the Lunar Module’s (LM) engine as a backup. D

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Inside of a Silicon Chip
Wed, September 30 2015

Mars: One Mystery Revealed, Many More to Solve

The recent announcement by NASA that there is evidence of salty, liquid water seeping out of the ground on Mars is both exciting and scientifically puzzling at the same time. As a member of the science team for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), I’ve been hearing about these possible seeps, or Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL), for several years now.

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Recurring Slope Lineae on Hale Crater
Fri, September 25 2015

Supermoon Eclipse!

You may have heard about the “supermoon eclipse” that will happen this Sunday, September 27. Sounds pretty exciting! But what does it mean? Let’s start with the “supermoon” part. The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle; it’s an ellipse, which means that the distance between the Moon and the Earth changes over the course of a month. When the Moon is in the part of its orbit that brings it closest to Earth, the perigee, it appears larger in our sky.

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Micromoon vs Supermoon
Fri, September 18 2015

Earth is Shaping the Shrinking Moon

Planetary science is one of those fields of research where you can always count on being surprised. The remarkable terrain of Pluto and Charon in images being sent back by the New Horizons spacecraft certainly qualifies. One of my all-time big surprises is from a recent discovery on an object much closer to home—the Moon.

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Prominent lobate fault scarp in Vitello Cluster
Fri, September 11 2015

Building a Spacesuit out of Spare Parts

I never would have guessed I’d spend the summer building a spacesuit. It isn’t exactly your typical internship. But with a lot of “spare” parts generously donated to the Museum by the manufacturer, ILC Dover, there’s a spacesuit just begging to be assembled. I spent weeks figuring out how to put this suit together, and with more than 400 parts in the collection, it’s not as simple as you might think.

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Construction of the ISS

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