NASA

Tag archives for NASA

Is There Life on Maaaars?

You certainly didn’t hear it here first: today NASA, at a press briefing, announced that minerals analyzed by the Curiosity rover indicate that life might, in the galactic past, have survived on Mars. The rover’s been poking around an ancient network of stream channels descending from the rim of Gale crater since September of last year; now,…

Mona Laser

The cultural critic Walter Benjamin, in his seminal 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, argued that the “aura” of a work of art, that sense of special awe and reverence we feel, being in its presence, isn’t inherent to art itself. Rather, it’s a side-effect of its exclusivity, restricted…

Footprints on the Moon

Yesterday we lost Neil Armstrong, an accidental hero, thrust by fate onto a rock in the sky. Many dreamt of walking on the moon before he did, and a few men did after him. He happened to be the first. Hopefully many more men, and women too, will echo his iconic footsteps in the future.…

On Curiosity and its Shadows

The NASA Mars rover Curiosity just landed on Mars. Those of us who tuned in vicariously via NASA’s live coverage watched as a roomful of tense engineers exploded, and heard their disembodied voices whispering and booming through the control room. Holy shit. We did it. Their headsets fell askew, they glad-handed one another, criss-crossing the…

In 1977, NASA sent a pair of unmanned probes named Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 into space. Among the infrared spectrometers and radio receivers included on each probe were identical copies of the same non-scientific object: the Voyager Golden Record. Sheathed in a protective aluminum jacket, the Record is a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing…

NA/SA: New Art/Science Affinities

“I read this book. It’s pretty good even if they made it in a week. Worth the fifty bucks, easy.” Bruce Sterling   In February of this year, I had the distinct pleasure of being invited to the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, a zygote of an institution nestled between departments at Carnegie Mellon University, to…

The Book of Exogenesis

The Book of Exogenesis: In the beginning was the word, and the word was a meteorite… Earlier this month, a report, based on NASA studies of meteorites found on Earth, suggested that some building blocks of DNA may have been formed in space. As it turns out, DNA components have been found on meteorites before,…

In the mid-1970s, the U.S. State Department prohibited the internal use of the term “space colony,” due to the global bad reputation of colonialism. Instead, the government opted for “space settlement.” Of course, as Stewart Brand pointed out at the time, the last thing you do in space is settle. Quite the opposite! Making the…

This is the first in a series of posts about art, the moon, and art on the moon. You would think this would be a fairly limited subject, but… Art on the moon has been happening for a long time. In 1969, a coterie of American contemporary artists devised a plan to put an art…

Book Review: Packing for Mars

We live in an age where truth is, if not stranger than fiction, then at least equally strange. Sometimes pop-science books illustrate this point with particular well-researched glee and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void is such a book. Where do I begin? It’s a true nerd’s smorgasbord. It answers…