Before we even knew that the night sky was filled we stars, we were already filling it with stories. Thousands of years ago, ancient civilizations were already creating constellations representing tragic heroes, hunters, animals, and other figures of myth and legend. Some of these constellations remain today, and have shown through history to have a common origin that spread through many cultures such as the Big Dipper and Orion the Hunter.
Humanity continues to use the night sky as a stage for stories; a giant canvas onto which we paint our hopes and dreams and adventures in the form of science fiction and space fantasy. What is it about space that is so alluring?
A quick update to let you know that I’m giving a talk at TEDx University of Toronto Scarborough this weekend. What’s the topic? SPAAAAACE! (of course). More specifically, the theme of this TEDx is “Converging Realities.” They are looking for speakers who could bridge two fields/concepts/ideas that might seem otherwise unrelated. In my other life, I help run a small non-profit organization called Esther’s Echo. In fact, my background is in International Development where I studied the field at the University of Toronto. In this talk, I will be sharing how space actually encourages my work for social justice, both at home and abroad, which inspired my other site No Borders from Orbit.
Below is a teaser of the talk. The conference is streaming live from www.tedxutsc.com. I’m up at 10AM EST this Saturday February 1st, but the talk will also be available later on YouTube and we’ll post it then as well!
It’s humanity’s first landing on the Moon in four decades! Check out the story below!
This is the last “Back-Blog” post to catch up on the adventures of our second large North America filming tour that ended this past Fall. We had thought we had wrapped up our shoot following interviews with Kevin Grazier of “Gravity” and “Battlestar Galactica”, and Cariann and Benjamin Higginbotham of SpaceVidCast. However, on our last evening in Los Angeles, Paul and I received an e-mail that Michael Okuda, graphic art designer on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space 9, might be available. (That news really cheered me up as later that evening I beat up the rental car but still had the interview to look forward to)
As Chasing Atlantis explores the connection that myself, those around me, and the space community at large have with space itself, we inevitably visit our love of science-fiction that inspired our initial interest in space. Star Trek also has a very tangible connection to the actual space program. Many of the astronauts and engineers we interviewed cited Star Trek as the reason why they went into space sciences. As a kid, I had a copy of the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual in my room. It was easily the book I picked up most often. It’s burgundy cover was folded and creased with sci-fi love and hours of wanting to remember every detail that I could about the design, look, and feel of the USS Enterprise both inside and out. The book detailed the technical aspects of the ship’s systems such as shields, phasers, and warp drive. It was also filled with insightful and humorous anecdotes from the cast and crew of the show. That book helped make Trek seem that much more real. (I also might have memorized exactly how many times the speed of light you were traveling at every warp factor).
In a few hours, India will launch its Mangalyaan space craft to Mars from Sriharikota. If the mission is successful, in 11 months India will join only 3 other countries/space agencies that have sent a probe on the Red Planet after the US, Russia and the European Space Agency.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has indicated that the mission objectives are the studying of the Martian surface and atmosphere by the orbiting probe’s instruments. The probe will also look for clues to unlock the history of Mars’ atmosphere thought to be once far more substantial but lost into the void of space.
This certainly will be a historic moment for India, but the launch is significant in terms of recognizing our planet’s increasing efforts to reach our solar system neighbour. Specifically, the launch is being called an escalation of a growing space race between India, China, Japan and South Korea.
The TCON Promotional Society is hosting Reversed Polarity this weekend! This is the same group of folk who had us out for Polaris 26 in July of 2012, and the Constellation Awards this past Summer. We are hosting two panels at the show called Allons-Y Filmmaking. We are examining how values such as courage, sacrifice, exploration and companionship that are celebrated in Doctor Who helped us in the creation of Chasing Atlantis. The Doctor always focuses on the journey rather than the destination and keeping the journey in mind over a fixed end point is certainly necessary in the creation of a documentary. I guess, in a sense, Doctor Who is really a travel documentary of sorts.
If you’re in the Toronto area, you should really check out the convention. Reversed Polarity is essentially a relaunched Polaris with a Doctor Who focus. I didn’t get into the DW reboot when it first launched in 2005. I did recall watching the 4th Doctor portrayed by Tom Baker in syndication on TV Ontario with my grandmother when she looked after me some evenings.
I mentioned briefly at the end of the previous post that our interview with Gravity’s Science Advisor Kevin Grazier was shot at the studios of HD Video Podcast SpaceVidCast.
SpaceVidCast is hosted by husband and wife team, Benjamin and Cariann Higginbotham. The show’s mission is to “get all of planet Earth excited about space flight and living amongst the stars.”
Ben and Cariann are in incredible force for space outreach and we were privileged to be able to interview them. We were completely blown away by what they have accomplished with the show. Ben and Cariann eat, sleep and breathe space. They produce, edit, and host the show in addition to working within the space industry itself. They have incredible insight into the space technology currently in development and the political and economic arena of our current space exploration efforts.
Ben and Cariann are true examples of the show’s tagline “For the space geek in all of us.” They were the first interviewees we met whose variety of geeky T-shirts rivaled our own. Ben greeted us in the parking lot for their apartment building wearing a set of pair of Google Glass(es) where we were introduced to the team’s studio which they designed themselves. From there the team introduces the show’s viewers, through 45 minute monthly programs, and 5 minute “SpacePods”, to a range of topics from launch coverage and updates to the feasibility of initiatives like Mars ONE, promoting cool space-based Kickstarters like Planetary Resources’ ARKYD Telescope or upcoming video game Lacuna Passage, and debates on Science Fiction vs Science Fact. The team also posts videos from out-of-studio adventures to space craft launches as well as from space-related conferences and events.
Gravity staring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock releases today! The trailers for the film. are absolutely thrilling – in a terrifying sort of way. Perhaps more terrifying is the fact that the accident depicted in the trailer is set during present day (slightly in the past as the Space Shuttle is still in operation) complete with an exploding International Space Station.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with Dr. Kevin Grazier who served as Scientific Advisor for Gravity. Kevin specialized in planetary sciences and worked on NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Cassini/Huygens project. (You can thank Kevin as part of the team that brings you AWESOME photos of Saturn like this) Kevin has also worked as advisor for some of our favorite shows like Battlestar Galactica - So Say We All!
Continuing on our backblogged updates from the North America Tour 2, we’re headed to Space Camp!
As a youngster, the dream of going to space was accompanied by the dream of getting the best training to do so. Where? At Space Camp of course!
Space Camp is located in Huntsville, Alabama. The site was established in 1982 as the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s education outreach program.
Space Camp is about as cool as you might think it would be; simulated space missions, a moon base, a functioning mission control center, ISS simulator, and…oh yeah…a military grade centrifuge to replicate the same G forces experienced by astronauts on take off. All of these incredible experiences are designed to provide youth with an opportunity to explore their passion for space as well as promote science education. There is even an adult program for those of us who want to be kids again (or never really stopped being kids to begin with)
So We did it!
We left the Sol System and have officially now placed a human-made object into interstellar space.
Two mind blowing things about this.
First, that we actually got something out that far that survived this long and that we are still in contact with!
Secondly, it took 36 years! Just to get to the edge of the solar system. I did some quick math, to reach the NEXT CLOSEST STAR (remembering that our Galaxy alone has about 400 Billion worth) would take Voyager another 73,000 years. The galaxy is enormous! And we are one of billions of galaxies! Mind = Blown
You can check out more about our breaching of the solar system threshold at National Geographic here
Despite how far we have yet to go, this is a monumental achievement decades in the making; the first of what I hope are more giant leaps that lead us from not only colonizing our own solar system, but to perhaps truly one day reach the stars.
BTW, on the theme of Voyager, there is a great Voyager probe game out there for IOS called Voyager:Grand Tour that will kill hours of your spare time that I highly recommend you check out.