The Business Trip

 Posted by DrJeff on May 19th, 2009

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This post is a Teachable Moment in the News by Dr. Jeff.


This was originally posted during the flight of Shuttle Atlantis, STS-125, May 11-24, 2009. But it can be used as a Teachable Moment for any Shuttle flight, or used at any time with the International Space Station.


Every so often I’ve got to tell my son Jordi that I need to go away on a business trip. His first question is always, “Daddy, where are you going?” So I pull out a map or a globe, talk about what I’m going to do when I get there, and make it a teachable moment. I can teach him some geography, and in a way where he’s personally connected to the place.


So, I have to wonder if astrophysicist John Grunsfeld has little kids. If so, he might have recently said, “kids, daddy has to go away on a business trip for a couple of weeks.” I would have liked to be the fly on the wall when they said “where daddy?”


John and his friends (Michael, Michael, Gregory, Megan, Scott, and Andrew) are definitely on a grueling business trip, but I’d rather go with them than to Disney World. Right now they’re in a spiffy RV (with really expensive accommodations) moving about 4.5 MILES PER SECOND (7 km/sec) relative to you. Think about that speed for a moment.


They’re aboard space shuttle Atlantis, relaxing after having just repaired a national treasure–the Hubble Space Telescope. They are in OUTER SPACE (say this slowly and with an echo for effect.) So, let’s use his business trip as a teachable moment. Where is … OUTER SPACE?



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