It’s the clearest indication we have ever had yet of an extraterrestrial intelligence–a powerful narrow-bandwidth radio signal that gave every indication of coming from outside the solar system. But is the “Wow!” Signal for real . . . ?
Computer printout of the “Wow! Signal”.
Continue reading The “Wow!” Signal
By 1970, NASA was looking for a continued reason to exist. President Kennedy’s goal of reaching the Moon by 1970 had been reached; twelve men (only one of them a scientist) had walked on the moon in six separate landings. As far as the US Government was concerned, the Moon program (which had after all been largely a political stunt to top the Russians) had accomplished its purpose. Congress slashed funding for NASA, Apollo 17 became the last Moon mission. Three already-scheduled missions–Apollo 18, 19 and 20–were cancelled.
Skylab’s backup, on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
Continue reading The Sky is Falling: The Life and Death of Skylab
The development of human space flight was one of the pinnacles of human technological advancement and one of humanity’s greatest achievements. But the “Space Race” was not motivated by science or by the humanitarian drive to explore new worlds–it was motivated by global Cold War politics between the United States and the Soviet Union. Perhaps that is why most people in the US today do not remember that the first human in space was not an American, but was a Soviet Air Force Senior Lieutenant named Yuri Gagarin.
Gagarin’s spacesuit, on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
Continue reading Yuri Gagarin: First Human in Space
It was a nightmare scenario for NASA’s moon mission planners–a human triumph turning into tragedy as space-borne moon germs, brought back by astronauts, swept the Earth and killed all terrestrial life with a lethal unstoppable disease. To prevent it, NASA developed a Space Age motor home trailer for astronauts called the Mobile Quarantine Facility.
The Mobile Quarantine facility, on display at the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center
Continue reading The Mobile Quarantine Facility: Protecting the Earth From Moon Bugs
Launched in June 2003, the Beagle 2 Mars probe was intended to put British science back onto the world’s scientific map, by searching Mars for signs of present or past life. But things didn’t quite turn out as planned . . .
The Mars probe Beagle 2, in the London Museum of Science.
Continue reading The Beagle Hasn’t Landed: The Story of the British Mars Probe “Beagle 2”
A space odyssey, or, how a little piece of the planet Mars ended up on a shelf in my bedroom.
Continue reading A Little Piece of Mars