NASA

Tag archives for NASA

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…

Peripheral Vision

I believe the world is a complex phenomenological experience that can be explained, rationalized, and lived in myriad different ways. The way I see it, we all begin with the same fundamental mystery — why are we here? what is life? — and we attack this problem with whatever tools we find work best; some…

Meeting an Astronaut

Last week, fresh off the fourth-to-last Shuttle mission, STS-131, NASA astronaut Jim Dutton came to speak at OMSI, my local science museum. When I got the email about this event, I RSVPed immediately — after all, an astronaut in my town? How urbane. Surely the intelligentsia of Oregon would come in droves to discuss the…

Send Your Face to Space

If it has always been your fantasy to send your physical likeness out into the cosmos, now is your time! To commemorate the final two Shuttle missions, NASA has created a bonkers “Face in Space” initiative, which allows you to upload a picture of yourself to send to the International Space Station. What this actually…

As NASA’s Space Shuttle program winds down — Endeavour’s final mission is slated for later this year, then that’s it — let us take a moment and remember the Shuttles. Sure, they had a tendency to explode into balls of fire. Sure, they were expensive, risky, and besieged by problems. But now is not the…

Last November, in Florida, I had the opportunity to see my first Space Shuttle launch. For the hundreds of millions of people who don’t pay more than a passing notice to the fact that human beings still go into space on a regular basis, this is a fairly banal thing. But to those who camp…

Picnics in Space

In 1976, NASA Administrator James Fletcher noted that “The question, ‘What is feasible?’ can be finally answered only by future historians.” He was talking about the elaborate plans for space habitats the agency had spent a summer noodling over, but the same remark could have been made to the incredulous before the first moon landing,…

The Right Stuff

A few months ago, I wrote a piece for GOOD Magazine highlighting some of the lesser-known successes of everyone’s favorite bloated space agency. Although I intended to write about basic research, good science, and interesting pipeline projects, I ended up stuck in a vortex of awesome open-source software development and interactive art programs. Doing my…

Interview @MarsPhoenix

For over six months, Veronica McGregor has been Twittering from Mars. Of course, she’s not living among the wind storms and dirt of the red planet herself, but she is the voice of MarsPhoenix, the strangely compelling, first-person, lonely robot Twitter feed that somehow became the official mouthpiece of NASA’s Phoenix mission and has catalyzed…

On March 26th, 1997, 39 people in matching black sweatsuits and Nike sneakers were found dead in a rented mansion in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe. They were members of a marginal religious group called Heaven’s Gate — a “cult,” in the frenzied media parlance of the 90′s — and they had…