The Year in Space

“Why Is NASA Exploring Pluto? NASA sends spacecraft to other planets because exploring space is exciting.” NASA Educational Technology Services, 2015 The Sputnik Planum, Pluto It emerges out of the ancient, cratered highland of the Viking Terra like a great lake, rippled with vast waves and sectioned into polygonal pools. It is of course, exceptionally dry, though hills of water ice rise up in aligned ripples like the rake marks of a zen garden. It is young, at least comparatively so, like the cheeks of a child yet to be marked with the scars and pockmarks that life accrues. Its…


Forget Mass Effect. NASA wants to put you in space for real.

The NASA session at G.D.C., We Are The Space Invaders, came at the end of a long day. Everyone looked exhausted, the woman sitting next to me had her shoes off, and more than a few chairs were free. You could almost here a collective sigh as the two presenters, Victor Luo and Jeff Norris of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, showed us vintage clips of Spacewar! and established the predictable mantra that games and space are intimately entwined. Yet, it ended with a standing ovation, a communal sense of amazement, and a pledge that NASA engineers are working towards…