Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Universe is Awesome and So Are We

Today I am going to share with you a series of super cool pictures that you probably haven't seen before. I will also be kind, generous, and nice, and tell you what the picture is of, who is in it, and why I think it is cool.

This is Apollo 17 astronaut Ronald Evans. In this image, he is retrieving a film canister during a space walk. Now think for a minute about the evolution of photography. He is in space--in 1972. First of all, going to space is an amazing accomplishment. At this time, however, not only have we been in space, but we've been to the moon, orbited, done all kinds of crazy, amazing things. In fact, we still look to these guys as the heroes of modern space technology. But, he's retrieving a film canister. Now, film canisters are for art majors--we have digital everything. I find this an interesting juxtaposition between a technology which was far beyond it's time, and a technology that was right on time.

Below you will see Dr. Robert Goddard at Clark University in Worchester, MA. Year: 1924. This was long before space travel. Dr. Goddard taught physics. In 1920 he had a paper published by the Smithsonian Institution, wherein he asserted that rockets could be used to send payloads to the moon. Of course, you know the press--they mocked him and began calling him "Moon Man." Eventually, when rocket science became real, scientists began to realize that it was nearly impossible to build a rocket or launch a satellite without acknowledging Dr. Goddard.

I think we should probably start listening to physics professors more often.

This is Harrison Schmitt, astronaut from Apollo 17, collecting Lunar Rock samples. That is also a giant moon rock. It's too bad he couldn't get the entire thing. Or maybe he did... 

At any rate, every time I look at this picture, I see that rock... and it's fantastic. December 14, 1972

This is James Irwin, saluting beside an American flag. Look at that giant space bug behind him. You know what has always awed me about their equipment? It looks like gold tinfoil. Their space vehicles aren't shiny and rock solid looking as scifi would have us believe. They're real. Every time I see them I am reminded that they're real.

This is the launch of the bumper V-2, a critical moment in the history of space travel. The bumper V-2 was the first ever rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. This two stage rocket (V-2 missile on the bottom with a WAC Corporal Rocket on the top) exploded from the ground, then detached from itself, and the top half could fly to nearly 400 kilometers, which is even higher than modern rockets can fly.

While you're thinking about that, look at those guys. Look at that equipment.It's incredible. It looks like equipment from the 1950s! Oh, did I mention? They sent this rocket up July 24, 1950. Amazing.

Below is the Lunar Prospector spacecraft on its way to the moon. I think that this picture is beautiful. You can't see the spacecraft, but you can see its tail and the Earth in the distance behind it. It's incredible. 1998.

This is a solar powered airplane. Amazing. It was tested in 2001. It looks so weird, like an alien space ship or something. No wonder people are always seeing UFOs. If I saw this, I would think aliens had landed, too.

This astronaut is floating in space. I want to float in space.
This astronaut is floating in space, having his picture taken next to Earth. I want to have my picture taken next to Earth. Instead, I will have to be satisfied with having my picture taken on Earth.

Below is a picture of the Eagle Nebula, also called the Pillars of Creation. This is one of my favourite nebulae; it is extremely photogenic, too. These pillars of dust are the birthplace of stars, although their star formation peaked several million years ago. The red represents low energy, the green represents medium energy, and the blue represents high energy.

I could stare at this all day.

 This is Earth. This is where we live. This is the thing that provides us everything we could ever possibly need and then some. This is what keeps us safe, and quite warm, as you can see. This image is a false colour depiction of long wave heat escaping from Earth. If the heat didn't escape, the Earth would become as hot as the sun. It's beautiful. And it's ours.

We live in an amazing universe. So let's explore.

You can find all these pictures and more here.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures. Whenever I see the moon lander replica at the Smithsonian, the gold tinfoil blows my mind too. Though now that I think about it, since the moon doesn't have atmosphere, moon landers can actually be quite flimsy in relation to anything that leaves or enters Earths atmosphere.