General thread for all things space exploration related!
The Cassini spacecraft made its first dive between Saturn & its rings today! The spacecraft couldn’t communicate with the Earth during this maneuver, so we won’t find out whether it survived until after 3 EST / midnight PST …
Cassini visited many times in 2008-2012, and yeah, I thought we were getting pretty close, and why not? I like to think I’m a beautiful, intriguing moon in my own way, and even if Cassini had arrived in the neighborhood more to probe Titan than me – well, when you’ve been lonely for so long, as I had been, ever since the Voyagers, any attention at all feels lovely. But then, suddenly, it was over. Cassini stopped visiting – for years, mind you – without even saying goodbye. I was just about over it when that little spacecraft shows up again in 2015 to dive through my plumes… well, don’t judge me, how could I resist? But since then… nada. I felt so used. Once again a spacecraft showed up, took advantage of me, and left. Don’t blame me if I try to keep a little emotional distance these days, even if it’s hard not to bask in my brief encounter with fame. Some days I still daydream Cassini is coming back, to crash into me instead of my planet…
I think @LearnedCoward is talking about all the ex Nazi scientists who settled in Huntsville to jump start the American space program. It’s definitely a cool museum there! Got trapped there on a two week / never ending business trip and there wasn’t a while lot else to do.
My daughter is currently at the Advanced Space Academy program there right now (she ‘graduates’ tomorrow), and my favorite tidbit during the parent orientation program was when the guy assured us that any time there is a storm with lightning, the kids remain inside until 30 minutes after it has passed, because “every single thing on our campus is a lightning rod”! When you stand in the central courtyard between the buildings, it’s all rockets, everywhere!
I watched Hidden Figures recently, with this daughter and her friend – the two of them started a “Women in STEM” club at their high school, so this was the perfect pairing to watch the movie – and it was a little jarring to be able to tell them that it had all happened within my lifetime, and the movie actually prettied up the racism and sexism for current audiences…that it had actually been a lot worse. So on that level, yes she definitely understands that this is an amazing opportunity, and one that was built on the backs of a lot of women.
The ratio at this program she’s at is around 50:50 boy:girl, and when I talked with the program director prior to going there, she indicated that they make a point of that. It WAS overwhelmingly white still, however.
All those kids, eager to get involved in space exploration, and we don’t even know if NASA will even be funded by the end of this presidency.
It’s a great opportunity on many levels. To start, she’s being encouraged to do this rather than discouraged, and she’s encouraging other young women who want to pursue STEM as well. The barriers that I thought were insurmountable are finally starting to come down.
Also, she has the opportunity to attend this camp, which far from everybody has. Likewise, it’s amazing that this camp exists in the first place, and is a fun experience. I would have loved to have done something like this when I was growing up.
I miss that. I grew up at the tail end of the space age, when we were transitioning from wide eyed wonder to something far more jaded. It was a fairly rapid transition too… maybe Challenger had something to do with it. Space exploration was more about the journey than the destination, about all the problems we’d solve along the way, but we seem to have forgotten that.
NASA paid for my education, and for a lot of people’s educations. The state Space Grant Consortiums are a great resource. Even in my day though, we thought they were in dire straits, but they’ve kept hanging on. Hopefully they can pull through this, and the rest of us can as well.