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Posts Tagged ‘space exploration’

via io9, a call for creative new ways to get the heck off this rock:
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is planning ahead — way ahead. The agency wants you to email ideas for how “the Administration, the private sector, philanthropists, the research community and storytellers” can develop “massless” space exploration and a robust civilization beyond Earth.
Tell me that this challenge isn’t exactly in our wheelhouse, people. Hard sci-fi writers, mechanical and other engineers, and practical dreamers of all stripes, your skills are needed!

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Planet boredom
On Mars I learned that boredom has two sides – it can either rot the mind or rocket it to new places…

This essay provides a fascinating look at the HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) Mars training mission from the inside. Written by Kate Greene, a science and technology journalist (i.e. not an astronaut), the piece gives a great inside look at what a trip to Mars might be like. For speculative fiction writers, this sort of research provides terrific insight into what life in space would actually feel like to those living it.

Short answer? Boring. Longer answer? Sometimes boring can be a good thing…

Find the full essay at aeon Magazine. For more on the pitfalls of life on Mars, you could also check out Andy Weir’s recent novel The Martian.

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ISS HD Live Streaming Earth
Sometimes the cameras are off, but when they aren’t… wow.

Viewing Notes:

Black Image =  International Space Station (ISS) is on the night side of the Earth.
Gray Image = Switching between cameras, or communications with the ISS is not available.
No Audio = Normal. There is no audio on purpose. Add your own soundtrack.

For a display of the real time ISS location plus the HDEV imagery, visit here: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/ForFun/HDEV/

On watching orbital sunrise, from NPR:

Circling Earth at 17,500 miles per hour (28,000 kilometers per hour) every 92 minutes, the crew members aboard the International Space Station “experience 15 or 16 sunrises and sunsets every day,” NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) Project Office describes.

“The whole station glows with the light of dawn,” Canadian astronaut and former ISS commander Chris Hadfield told NPR in a recent interview. “You can see the dawn come across the world towards you.”

“Then you go back to work and wait another 92 minutes, and it happens again. It’s not to be missed, and I tried to watch as many sunrises and sunsets as the work would allow,” he said.

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As a followup to my last post on Reading for Generation Mars, I’d like to reference this piece by Becky Chambers at the Tor.com blog. She wrote it after meeting a (real! live!) astronaut and realizing that what she does is important to science and progress too, and not in an abstract way.

The fact is that if space exploration—in whatever form—is going to continue onward, it needs all the support we can muster. We need public outreach, like what the astronaut was doing, to be aware of the work that’s already being done, and to spark the next generation to follow in their footsteps. We need quality education, and a larger emphasis on scientific literacy, both in the classroom and beyond.

And we need science fiction. Now, more than ever.

We need to consider which futures are worth pursuing, which ideas we’ve outgrown, and what dangers (both practical and ethical) could be lurking along the way. Science fiction is the great thought experiment that addresses all of these things, and there is no branch of it that is not hugely relevant today. We need stories based around existing technologies, to help us determine our immediate actions. We need near-future stories that explore where our efforts might lead us in our lifetime. We need stories that take the long view, encouraging us to invest in better futures for distant generations. We need space operas, to remind us to be daring. We need apocalypses, to remind us to be cautious. We need realistic stories, and ridiculous stories, and everything in between, because all of these encourage us to dream (perhaps the ridiculous ones most especially). We need all of it.

I found this to be a really nice summary of so many of the reasons why fiction, and science fiction in particular, is important. Sure, it’s just one element in a matrix of education, outreach and exploration, but it’s in there.

Now I’m going to go write something:)

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