Weekly Challenge 7: Spaceship Earth

 Posted by DrJeff on September 4th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

MW

Photo caption: Computer-generated image of the Milky Way galaxy based on real data.

 

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge. It was requested by (teacher extraordinaire) Jami Lupold and her class in the great city of Houston, Texas, USA.

If you’re a teacher and your class has an idea for a blog post, slip me a note!


 

You wanted to be an astronaut? Poof. Done.

 

You and your friends are on a spaceship called Earth—with all known life aboard. With you sitting there calmly reading this, and no obvious need to hold on to something for dear life, it might seem that the spaceship under your feet is carrying you on a nice steady trajectory through space. Uh … Nope. Right now you’re being carried along on something more akin to a cosmic-sized amusement park ride. Earth is rotating on its axis, it’s orbiting the Sun, and the whole Solar System (the Sun and its planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, and Trans-Neptunian Objects) is orbiting the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way itself is moving relative to other nearby galaxies, the local group of galaxies is moving through a greater space, and all this is set against a backdrop of an expanding fabric of space and time across the entire universe. I know!!!! (© Craig Ferguson) Dizzy?

 

[Pleasant Ding] The captain has just turned on the seat belt sign. There may be some conceptual turbulence up ahead. But I’ll make the ride as smooth as possible.

 

OK, I think a Weekly Challenge requesting that you calculate all the spinning, and revolving, and free-flying is a bit much, so let’s concentrate on three things:

 

Here now the Challenge—

 

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Commentary on Blue-Ribbon Panel Exploring NASA’s Strategic Options for Human Space Flight

 Posted by DrJeff on August 13th, 2009

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sciencegoal4_400_041014190552

This post is a Dr. Jeff Speaks Out and a Teachable Moment in the News.

This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.

 

Should humans next travel to Moon, Mars, or …

 

The blue-ribbon panel tasked by the White House with reviewing NASA’s current strategic plans for human space flight, and exploring other options, wraps up deliberations this week. They’ve been at it just 2 months, and this Friday (August 14) Norman Augustine, the panel’s chair, presents the list of options to new NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and WH science and technology advisor John Holdren. I thought I’d weigh in.

 

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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 5: Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency

 Posted by DrJeff on August 7th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

gpw-20061021-NASA-AS11-44-6642-half-illuminated-Earth-Apollo-11-Lunar-Module-ascends-from-Moon-surface-Apollo-XI-mission-July-21-1969-medium

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.

 

Nice to see you again! Now that you’re back from your interplanetary romp through the Solar System, let’s see those cool photographs you took for the Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency tour brochure.

 

[Hmmm …. silence.] You there?? Earth to my contracted photographer, you seem to be processing all this a bit slowly. I suspect you’re suffering from ‘rocket lag’. It’s perfectly understandable after traveling over 10 billion miles and visiting 7 worlds. I don’t think any photographer has ever been this dedicated. You’re clearly worth more than I’m paying you. So take a load off, and first re-read Weekly Challenge 5 to get back up to speed.

 

And now the answers—


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An Apollo 11 Personal Story

 Posted by DrJeff on July 16th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

279739main_moonwalk_lg

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.


Photo caption: Buzz Aldrin on the Moon. Photo by Neil Armstrong.

 

I think it was August 1998. I got a call from Gina Ross, the principal of Buzz Aldrin Elementary School in Reston, VA. Her teachers were about to return to school for the new academic year, and before the kids returned she wanted me to come and visit. My mission? To inspire her teaching staff with an inter-disciplinary talk on the nature of human exploration, what we as a species of explorers are capable of achieving when we put our minds to it, and that teachers and parents are the link that binds each generation to the next, allowing us personally and collectively to aspire to new heights.

 

The presentation was going well. They were with me, and I could see them getting energized for the new year. Midway through, I was telling them about how I was inspired to be a space explorer when I was just 11. It was one of those singular moments that changes us forever. I was watching a black and white television and on the screen were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking around … on the Moon! You just have to step back from that sentence and let it soak in.

 

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Weekly Challenge 5: Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency

 Posted by DrJeff on July 13th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Apollo--Apollo-module-orb-002

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge.

 

Photo caption: Photograph by Michael Collins in Apollo 11 command module Columbia, as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin return from the lunar surface in Eagle. With the exception of Michael Collins, the entire human race is in the picture. It happened almost exactly 40 years ago. Eagle blasted off from the surface at 1:54:00 pm EDT, July 21, 1969.

 

I decided to start a new business. I know space flight for us average folk is just around the corner. As a shrewd business person (hah) I recognize the market potential for interplanetary vacation travel. So I’m therefore happy to report that I’ve just established my new company—Dr. Jeff’s Interplanetary Travel Agency, LLC, and I need some help from you all in designing my marketing material. I’m thinking images of alien vistas is the way to really entice clients.

 

Last night I happened to look up at the Moon as it was rising above the trees (read why HERE) ,and I thought to myself “Wow! If I didn’t live on Earth, a picture of that would certainly make me want to visit Earth!”

 

So I started imagining the view from the surface of other worlds. In particular, I’m thinking of a tour package to moons of some of the planets, with stays at the Best Western Satellite Hotels, each located a comfortable distance from the regional spaceport. (Sorry, the Four Seasons and Hilton Hotels only wanted to build on the planets.)

 

I’m hiring you as my interplanetary photographer. I’d like you to travel to some moons and get me some cool pictures for my brochure. For each shot, I’d like something comparable to what I saw when I looked at the full Moon from Earth.

 

Here now the Challenge—

 

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Extra Wrapping Paper? Let’s Gift Wrap the Biggest ASTEROID. (oooh I’m so scared of the IAU)

 Posted by DrJeff on July 10th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Final Ceres

This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffism.

 

Last week on BotU, I used boat-loads of wrapping paper to gift wrap the Moon. I can’t believe that I actually bought TOO MUCH of the stuff! What to do with the leftovers, what to do. Hey, I know! I’ll wrap the largest asteroid Ceres! (Oops … can I say that? Are the IAU police listening?)

 

What? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Don’t you remember the whole ‘Is Pluto a Planet’ thing in 2006? Well it spilled over to poor old Ceres. In its infinite wisdom, the International Astronomical Union—the IAU—renamed Ceres a “Dwarf Planet” ’cause what they did to Pluto had a ripple effect across the Solar System. BUT they forgot to let the rest of us know if we should still call Ceres an asteroid. Or maybe they just don’t write very well (see below.)

 

So you know what? I’m going to call it a dwarf planet AND the largest asteroid. “Now, now kids, don’t fight …Shimmer … it’s a floor wax AND a dessert topping (SNL.)”

 

Now for the cool part—

 

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If I Could Gift Wrap the Moon

 Posted by DrJeff on July 2nd, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Earth-Moon

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News and a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffism.

 

Have you ever just stopped on a cloudless night and stared at the Moon? And I’m not talking about a 2 second passing glance, and a smile. A jewel in the night, it is a sight many of us learn to ignore. Yet it is ANOTHER WORLD, and we can see it clearly from our backyards. That to me seems like a gift.

 

Now for my gift to you. If you’ve never done it, or you haven’t recently, PLEASE just take out a simple pair of binoculars (forget the telescope) and look at the Moon. Do it with your children. Teach them an appreciation for what’s in their sky. It is a stunning site.

 

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SPECIAL POST: Where Were You During the Flight of Apollo 11? Remember and Share –

 Posted by DrJeff on June 26th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Countdown to History
Ensure your system clock is correct for countdown accuracy.
Launch of Apollo 11, Cape Kennedy: T-minus
[clock1]

Touchdown at Tranquility Base: T-minus

[clock2]

A Footprint on Another World: T-minus

[clock3]

 

Aldrin

This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.

This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.

 

We came in peace for all mankind


It was a moment that changed us. A moment that began a new chapter in the book of the human race. It was an achievement shared by all the peoples of the world … and in that moment—our differences were overwhelmed by the common bond of our humanity. And hear ye future generations—it was a testament to what we are collectively capable of achieving when we aim beyond the horizon.

 

Many of you reading this lived through it and were powerfully moved. Many of you were not yet born—but yearn to know what it was like.

 

I created this special post as a place where those that lived it could share the experience with those that did not.

 

If you were moved 40 years ago next month, please leave a comment below. Think about where you were, what it meant to you, and what it meant to the world. And we warmly invite you to put your thoughts to ‘paper’ here.

 

I’ll start it off with my own very personal experience in the recent post: The Launch of Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Brought Back Memories of Apollo 11.

 

I have also assembled a list of resources below to help you celebrate with friends and family, and follow the flight—in real time—as it happened 40 years ago. I’ll be adding more to the list every few days.

 

With best wishes for great memories and wonderful sharing time,

Jeff Goldstein, Center Director, NCESSE

 

 

Please Tweet and Email the existence of this page far and wide, so we can remember together.


Return often to read new comments below with friends and family.

 

 

Feel the magic and the majesty—again.

 

 

Resources


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THE SOLUTION TO Weekly Challenge 3: What Can You Do With a Humongous Piece of Xerox Paper?

 Posted by DrJeff on June 23rd, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

Read Original Challenge HERE.

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This post is a Dr. Jeff’s Weekly Challenge and a Dr. Jeff’s Jeffism.


Last week on BotU, your challenge was to take an imaginary, truly humongous piece of xerox paper—but with normal xerox paper thickness—and figure out how many times you’d need to fold it in half so the folded thickness is the height of you, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Mount Everest. For those that really wanted to challenge themselves, I invited you to keep folding so it would be thick enough to reach the Moon, the Sun, the nearest star, and beyond.


How’d you do?


BUT WAIT! If you haven’t yet read Weekly Challenge 3, DON’T LOOK AT THE SOLUTION HERE JUST YET! First read Weekly Challenge 3, or I’ll take back my paper.


First, a word from our sponsor—

You Want Me To Do What With a Bathroom Scale?

Weekly Challenge 4 to be posted Monday, June 29, 2009


Other Posts coming soon:

A Voyage in Corpus Christi

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, History Tells How Far You Are

Lessons of Earth

MESSENGER: Target Mercury


And now the answers—


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Yesterday’s Launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Brings Back Memories of Apollo 11

 Posted by DrJeff on June 19th, 2009

 Copyright 2009  |  About this blog

 

 

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is about to become the second human being to walk on the Moon. This picture was taken by Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, July 20, 1969.

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, is about to become the second human being to walk on the Moon. This picture was taken by Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, Apollo 11 commander, July 20, 1969.


This post is a Teachable Moment in the News.

This is crossposted at the Huffington Post HERE.


Yesterday (Thursday, June 18) the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and will reach the Moon next Tuesday, June 23. LRO is a robotic mission that will pave the way for humans to return to the lunar surface. It’s also a timely teachable moment in the news for another reason—

 

July 20th is coming. I’m waiting for the emotions to wash over me again. It will be the 40th anniversary of the first human footprints on another world, and I lived it.

 

I remember it so vividly. It was July 16, 1969. At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Apollo 11—a rocket as tall as a 36-story building—blasted off with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins aboard. The command module Columbia—with barely enough room for the three crew seats—was their home for the 3-day trip to the Moon, and by July 19th they were in orbit.

 

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