Tag Archives: #NASAtweetup

Three Months

8 Oct

Am I going to do an “X Months Since STS-135” post every month for the rest of my life? Probably not. I suspect it will be something like measuring the age of a child in months until it reaches a year or so. But for now, it seems important.

I’m really good at marking milestones. In fact, it may be my one true talent in life. I recently fell in love with this website: Nerdiversary.com. Besides being the three-month anniversary of the final shuttle lunch, today marked the 8,000th day since my birth. I am nearing 12 Martian years. On the other hand, I won’t be 2 Jovian years until 2013.

Jupiter has been on my mind a lot lately, since it’s been so bright in the sky. It looks so stable from here — notwithstanding the actual state of its surface — as if it has always been there, and will always be, no matter what is happening here on Earth.

I went down to the beach today, and was reminded that when I was young and in love with the idea of moving out to the West Coast from the ocean-less middle of the country, I felt the same way about the ocean that I feel about space today. There are, of course, clear parallels between early explorers crossing the sea and modern explorers pushing against the edges of outer space.

The shores of the literal ocean.

“We embarked on our journey to the stars with a question first framed in the childhood of our species and in each generation asked anew with undiminished wonder: What are the stars? Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” — Carl Sagan, Cosmos

The shores of the cosmic ocean (in this case, Jupiter above Los Angeles).

Two Months

8 Sep

It’s been two months since the STS-135 launch and tweetup, and this morning I woke up at 5 a.m. to watch a (scrubbed) GRAIL launch. The lack of sleep and the anniversary have led to an emotional state that finds me walking down the street to class and suddenly realizing that I am grinning like an idiot because I just remembered that I have actually met astronauts.

So far, no one has asked me to explain why I would wake up at 5 a.m. to watch a launch from ~2,500+ miles away on a small computer screen (granted, my roommates were all asleep when I left this morning), but that dopey smile and the memories of rain and pre-dawn parking lots and the last five seconds of the countdown go a long way towards explaining it.

So, dear #GRAIL #NASATweetup attendees:  you are now a part of an amazing alumni group who can understand just what it feels like to drive up to this view in the morning:

This must be the fifth time I've posted this picture; but it's so worth it.

10 Things I Learned This Summer

15 Aug

Classes don’t start for another week, but for me, leaving Chicago for Los Angeles always signals the end of the summer. I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on how–cool?  brilliant?  amazing?  rad?  ace?  brilliant?–this summer has been. So here are 10 things I know now that I did not know in May.

1) No matter what Google Maps says, this is not SpaceX.

Seriously?

2) Camera lenses got just as fogged-up in Florida humidity as glasses do.

Also a testament to my photography skills.

3) Elmo is sassy in person.

And astronauts are cool.

4) Ned Stark does not always make the best life choices.

Par for the course.

5) Watching an EVA (spacewalk) during a power-and-internet-outage sans car is worth a half-hour trek to the nearest Starbucks.

I couldn't dry my hair in the morning, but I could watch people working in orbit.

6) Space Corps Directive 1694 states that, during temporal disturbances, no questions shall be raised about any crew member whose timesheet shows him or her clocking off 187 years before he clocked on.

Also that it's cold outside, there's no sort of atmosphere.

7) During a shuttle launch, the heat will kill you at 400 feet away.  At 800 feet away, the sound will kill you. (Also, by consistently telling this to people as a “fun fact,” I have learned that I overuse the phrase “fun fact.”)

Obviously, we were not this close on launch day.

8) Tim Minchin is both really nice in person and really funny live.

"I mean, I think you're special, but you fall within a bell curve."

9) Embroidery is fun.

Possibly too much fun.

10) It is possible to get goosebumps in 90-degree heat.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

Commiserating Orbiters

11 Aug

Let me start by saying that I fully understand that the orbiters are not sentient, but it is very difficult not to anthropomorphize them in this picture.

Discovery and Endeavour.

ThinkGeek tweeted that the two were commiserating, and I can’t help but agree. I understand that they get pretty beat-up during launch and landing, but they look sort of old and abandoned and almost small without their fuel tanks and SRBs. And Endeavour’s “nose” especially looks sad. Again: I know the orbiters are not sentient, and I am absolutely falling victim to a combination of too much science fiction and an unfortunate evolved tendency to attribute agency to inanimate objects. But still, there they are, nodding slowly at each other as they pass, well aware that their time has passed, and cognizant of the losses of their sister-ships and the state of their makers.

Okay. Let’s try that again.

I understand that they get pretty beat-up during landing, and that they will be shined and polished before they go to their respective museums. These two ships have served us well for years, and they will continue to serve humanity in the future–in retiring from orbital duty, they are taking up new careers as permanent teachers of the next generation. It’s even good they look like this now before they’re shined up for display–it means they’ve been well-used and well-loved, like an old book that’s been read a few dozen times, or a teddy bear that’s lost some stuffing over the years.

Well, that got a little sad again near the end, but it’s still an improvement.

One Month

8 Aug

If I’ve set things up correctly, this should post exactly one month after the launch. I will probably be distracted at work and miss the moment, so I thought I should mark the occasion while it was on my mind.

Other than that, there’s not much to say. Would you believe that I still can’t quite believe it happened? Or that I have not expressed sufficient thanks to everyone involved? Both are true.

All I know is that I would get up at 1 a.m. any day to see this view again:

Honestly, any day.

Cassini and the James Webb Space Telescope

14 Jul

I’ve asked on Twitter and on Facebook, and I will ask now and again at the end of this post:  Please contact your representatives and ask them to restore funding to the James Webb Space Telescope.  My Congressperson has yet to reply back to me.

There are many excellent articles out there already describing the reasons why the JWST should not be axed.  Because it’s the successor to the Hubble.  Because of all we will learn from it.  Because the cost, in comparison to other budget costs, is not that great.  Because we’ve spent time and money and jobs on it already, and stopping it dead in its tracks would leave an utter void.  For the future of space exploration.  For science.  (As I write that, I can’t help but think of the little girl from Up  saying “Adventure is out there!”  And if that isn’t reason enough by itself to study space, I don’t know what is.)

So I could try to go over all of those reasons again.  But I think all of you know that space exploration is important, for all those reasons and more.  So instead, I have a personal story about why I kind of need this telescope to happen.

Continue reading

9 Hours Later

8 Jul

I’ve been awake for 19 hours on 3 hours of sleep, and I am mosquito-bitten and sore.  My shoulders are sore.  I have no idea why my shoulders are sore.  They just are.  But I wouldn’t trade any of this for all the world.

That was what I thought when I walked up toward the VAB this morning:  I wouldn’t trade any of this for all the world.  I thought the same thing periodically throughout the day.

I’m so tired I can barely see straight (the three-hour drive back from KSC to Orlando didn’t help much, I am sure), and I’ve been on the computer so much that I find myself mentally hashtagging my own thoughts.  So I’ll write more, hopefully, tomorrow.  Or soon.

Did I mention yesterday that Astro_Mike and Astro_Wheels signed my geeky NASA cross-stitch?  I don’t think I did.  So I’ll leave you with this.  Really glad I didn’t have to change the date underneath the logo.  And only partially because it’s annoying to undo stitches.

Definitely requires ironing and framing.