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.
We’re continuing with the updates of our amazing second North America Tour of late July/Early August that are “backblogged.” Apologies for the delay. Real life caught up with me for August/September orientation and student move-ins at Simon Fraser University. Now that all the new generation of students have arrived on residence, where I live and work, it was time to review the rest of the incredible locations/interviews of this recent trip. (By the Way. Simon Fraser University is considered to be like Sci-Fi Headquarters. It has been a filming set for Battlestar Galactica, Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, Underworld. Very cool place to visit if you are in BC)
Following our meetup with Bill Nye (BILL BILL BILL) in Los Angeles we headed North to the Seattle Museum of Flight. Within the Museum’s many awesome exhibits ranging from WWII combat aircraft, an actual retired Concorde, an SR-71 Blackbird, and hands-on simulator experiences is the Full Fuselage Shuttle Trainer.
The Full Fuselage Trainer (FFT) is a 1:1 scale replica of the Shuttle itself used to train every astronaut who ever flew to space on any of the shuttle missions. From Chris Hadfield to Story Musgrave to John Glenn, all these astronauts stepped foot in the FFT. It is as close as one can get to being in the shuttle without actually being in the shuttle; something that nobody will ever do again.
The Museum of Flight let us get inside the trainer and grab some incredible footage. While we were filming, Paul asked me to sit down in the command chair; the left seat in the cockpit. Seated before the accurate controls of what one would find in the shuttle, I was thrust into the life of what might have been; the life of a space-farer – an astronaut. The moment hit me harder than I had anticipated, which Paul keenly captured on film. It struck me that while the astronaut that I had always hoped to be was a driving force behind this film, that dream has also been a source of shame; that I had, in a sense, failed. I have always been vaguely aware of this sentiment toward my not becoming an astronaut. There is often a lingering sense that I made an error, or should have done something differently. Trying to determine all of one’s motivations for decisions made over a decade ago is difficult. I believe that, at the time, I choose to study arts rather than sciences, I did so for the right reasons and intentions.
Earlier in the Summer we were contacted by Candice McCavitt, Exhibit Coordinator of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE). Also known as the Ex, the CNE is an annual event in Toronto visited by over 1.4 million visitors each year. The CNE is the largest annual far in Canada; seventh in North America.
The Ex has a long history beginning in 1879 to promote agriculture and technology in Canada. New advances in each sector were showcased at the Ex to demonstrate new trends and cutting edge innovations. Candice explained that a particular exhibit “History to the Future” would have a space for Chasing Atlantis.
The exhibit is described as “Looking backward to what the future could have been and forward to where we are headed now by highlighting past, present, and future innovations, explorations, and technologies” Some of our key interviewees are helping to usher in this future while others look back at a view of the future and space exploration during the Apollo era.
This is the Ex’s final weekend. If you are in the Toronto area, be sure to check it out and visit the History of the Future exhibit before the weekend is out!
We are back from the US! We had an absolutely amazing time and I will be updating the blog to our epic journey that brought us from LA with Bill Nye to the Full Fuselage Shuttle Trainer in Seattle to Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama and then back to LA to meet up with the creators of Star Trek’s LCARS themselves, Michael and Denise Okuda. as well as Kevin Grazier of Battlestar Galactica and the crew of SpaceVidCast
In the meantime, be sure to tune into the Geek Hard show tomorrow where Paul will be on the show talking everything Chasing Atlantis including our exhibit at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. You can check out Geek Hard at http://geekhardshow.com/ The show streams today (August 16th) live at 7pm EST at www.realityradio101.com !
One of my favorite parts of our journey has been our chance encounters with really interesting and inspiring people. They may not necessarily be celebrities (yet), or shuttle engineers or technicians, but they have a story to tell, wisdom to share, and sometimes those stories and wisdom come our way when our cameras are not in reach.
Today, while in the Los Angeles Airport on our way to Seattle, we met Jacob. Jacob was sitting across from us at the terminal gate skillfully solving a Rubik’s cube. Once the cube was solved, he would reset a timer on his iPhone, scramble the cube, and within seconds, solve it again. Paul and I were mesmerized by Jacob’s super powers. So we decided to ask what he was all about.
Jacob explained that he was on his way to the Las Vegas Rubik’s Cube World Championship happening this weekend. According to the website, it is an official World Cube Association competition. I wasn’t even aware something like that existed. Jacob says that he completes between 100 to 500 “solves” a day. I have to admit, it’s very cool.