I LOVE the new Women@NASA website encouraging young women to pursue careers in science, math, and technology! It includes 32 videos and essays from women across the agency who contribute to NASA’s mission.
You’ll hear stories of women overcoming almost every obstacle imaginable to pursue their dreams and make a difference in the world. In the future, we hope that the website will support a collaborative and supportive community of women at NASA, and serve as the hub of all activity related to women’s issues at the agency. In addition, we hope that these stories will inspire girls everywhere to reach for the stars, and explore the myriad of opportunities available to them through pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
This is one of my favorite images ever captured by Hubble:
Hubble’s 20th anniversary image shows a mountain of dust and gas rising in the Carina Nebula. The top of a three-light-year tall pillar of cool hydrogen is being worn away by the radiation of nearby stars, while stars within the pillar unleash jets of gas that stream from the peaks.
This is a guest post by Darlene Cavalier, a writer and senior adviser at Discover Magazine. Darlene holds a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader. She founded ScienceCheerleader.com and cofounded ScienceForCitizens.net to make it possible for lay people to contribute to science.
“We’re going nowhere, doing nothing.”
– NASA astronaut Story Musgrave (pictured below repairing the Hubble).
Today is Story Musgrave‘s birthday. As a young boy, he repaired farm equipment; a fundamental experience he carried with him when he later fixed the Hubble Telescope. Story is a good friend and colleague. He’s also, hands-down, the smartest, straightest-talker I’ve ever met. We first worked together back when I ran the Discover Magazine Awards at Disney and Story was a (favorite) presenter. Since then, we’ve worked together in various capacities.
Earlier this year, the White House made several (at times contradictory) reports about the future of NASA. I needed clarity so I turned to Story who granted me this interview in late April. I knew he’d cut straight through the BS and deliver the facts framed by his years of experience and knowledge.
Story has 7 graduate degrees in math, computers, chemistry, medicine, physiology, literature and psychology. Story was an NASA astronaut for over 30 years, a portion of which he spent as a part-time trauma surgeon, and flew on six spaceflights. He performed the first shuttle spacewalk on Challenger’s first flight, was a pilot on an astronomy mission, conducted two classified DOD missions, was the lead spacewalker on the Hubble Telescope repair mission and on his last flight, he operated an electronic chip manufacturing satellite on Columbia.
He’s not shy about sharing his informed opinions when invited to do so. So I did, in this recorded interview.
I asked him what he thought about President Obama’s space policies:
“We’re going nowhere, we’re going to launch nothing, we’re going to do nothing. It takes us 15 years to do what we did in 5 years, 50 years ago.”
I pushed him to help explain why the public is no longer enthused about space. His response:
“Space holds a mirror up for what it means to be a human being. The public IS excited about space but we have to give them something. The Space Station was a massive strategic error. For the cost of that [...] the entire solar system would have been covered. Instead, we’re giving the public nothing.”
Here’s the full interview. Story’s willing to do a follow-up so leave a comment if you have additional questions you’d like me to ask him. (Special thanks to Mike Lucek for his technical assistance.)
Water on the moon… Just wow!
According to NASA, this discovery may ‘hold the key to the history and evolution of the solar system‘ if the water is billions of years old. Potential sources include molecular clouds, solar winds, comets, or even somehow activity within the moon itself. There’s already discussion about the potential for development of a lunar space station. Phil’s got the details.
During the final month composing The Science of Kissing, it can be challenging to maintain a sense of the manuscript’s ‘big picture‘ while getting lost editing a single paragraph at a time. Fortunately, The Daily Dish has provided the distance and perspective I need–perhaps even a glimpse of the ‘first kiss’ ever–with this view of NGC 6302, a butterfly-shaped nebula surrounding a dying star. It’s just 3,800 light-years away in the Scorpius constellation:
Looks like a kiss to me too… Thanks Andrew!
Cool news from space I’ve been meaning to post…
WASP-17, a newly discovered planet about 1,000 light-years away, orbits in the reverse direction as the star it revolves around! This is BIG news in science because every other world we’ve observed does the opposite. Most likely, a near collision with another planet early on led to its strange orbit. The discovery was made by graduate students David Anderson at Keele University and Amaury Triaud of the Geneva Observatory with the UK’s Wide Area Search for Planets (WASP) project. WASP-17 is also estimated to be two times the size–but half the mass–of Jupiter meaning this becomes the largest known planet in the universe.