Space.

Most of us would agree that work can sometimes feel like it lasts longer than a regular 5-day week. But what if you couldn’t leave work? NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent 340 days orbiting in space, the longest an American astronaut has ever spent in space. In his book coming out in October, ENDURANCE, he reveals that it was not one big discovery that was the focus of his work, but all of the planned projects that he performed over those 340 days.

But one of the most fascinating projects will probably take years to analyze: the genetic differences that will appear between Kelly, and his twin brother Mark, who remained on Earth. While initial studies prove some interesting things, it will probably be years before the full extent of the data is understood. You can read a short excerpt from the book right here.

The excerpt puts you into the mindset of someone who is totally focused on his work, and not only enjoys it, but has learned how to better live on our planet now that he’s back home.

What do you think—would you enjoy living in space for that long?

Target Earth

20160912_154436In a few weeks, we’ll be welcoming back local astronomer Frank Hitchens to share with us his talk called, “Target Earth”.  He’ll discuss the threats we face from asteroid and comet impacts, and how we can protect ourselves. Join us on October 17th at 6:30 pm!

This is going to be a popular workshop, and Hitchens is always entertaining in his information.  If you’d like to take part, this is a great seminar aimed at all ages….and works with the Grade 6 curriculum on space, so bring along the kids who are interested.  You’ll need to register early, so give us a call at 257-2702 to get on the list.

Space Talk, Anyone?

LEAVING HOMEAre you an amateur astronomer? We’re hosting a fascinating talk here at the library on Monday, January 18th starting at 6:30pm, with local astronomer, Frank Hitchens.

He’ll give a 60-minute talk about space and our fascination with exploration. Weather permitting, we’ll have telescope time to look at the moon, which will be perfect for viewing if the weather cooperates.

Registration is required, so call us at 257-2702 to get your name on the list. This is a free seminar, as part of our Life-Long Learning Series. Spaces are limited.

The Martian

One of the most exciting books I read last year was THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir, and now, it’s going to be a movie released at the end of 2015, starring Matt Damon.

18007564THE MARTIAN is about a crew of astronauts who are living and working on Mars, trying to establish the means for others to eventually inhabit the planet. But when a powerful dust storm forces them to leave suddenly, one of the astronauts–Mark Watney—is believed to be dead, and is left on the planet alone.

NASA discovers he’s still alive only after it’s too late for his crew to return for a rescue mission. So now, the world watches as Mark Watney struggles to survive while NASA scrambles to put together a rescue mission that will be years in the future.

I loved this book, even while the opening was quite technical and a little tedious at times, Weir put together a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering if they can save Watney in time. I”m very excited about the star-studded cast for the movie-version out in November of this year. This is sci-fi without the creatures and hyper-speed, totally plausible if we could get people there safely in the first place.

Have you read this novel, and are you anticipating the movie release?

Space! Read all about it!

I’ve always been fascinated with space, and the movie Apollo 13 captured a great part of the history of spaceflight. I’m sure it is a pretty good representation of what happened on that disastrous mission, but if you’re interested, there’s now a website that has complete transcripts of the event, as well as other spaceflights. Spacelog allows you to look at the transcripts from various points, in case you want to know just what happened when they stirred those oxygen tanks or at any other event.

Right now, they only offer the Apollo 13 Mission and a Mercury 6 mission, but have big plans for other missions as well.  What a great way to spend a few idle minutes.

How many in space?

I’m a big space fan.  I’ll read anything about space, NASA, or astronauts and I love a good space movie anytime.  So it made me wonder, how many people are in space right now?

freeflyer_nasa_bigOf course, there are always websites to answer these burning questions.  A site called “How Many People Are In Space Right Now?” told me that, today, November 9th, 2009…..there are 6 people in space, all on the International Space Station.

Just where is the International Space Station when you look up into the night sky?  You’ll have to be aware of when it passes over your sector of the sky, so to keep track of its progress, you can follow on Twitter at Twisst.  They notify you when the Space Station will be in your coordinates so that you have your telescope ready!

You can also follow the International Space Station on the NASA website where they list who’s on it right now, what they’re doing (science etc.) and you can also figure out what they might be looking at right now from their vantage point.  NASA has compiled images  of the world taken from the space station so that you can imagine what they see.  As I write this, it is passing over the Cape Verde Islands.

We also have a variety of books on the International Space Station if you’re interested in learning more.  Just pop into the library and we can get you started. It’s a small world!

Space, the final frontier

bg36I’ve been reading a juvenile fiction novel called Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

life which tells the story of a teenage girl living in the aftermath of a devastating asteroid hit to the moon.  The moon is pushed out of orbit and the effects on the earth below are widespread.  The character Miranda tells of the struggle to live in such a world where there is little sunlight, fires, flooding, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and most of all, very little hope.  While the premise might seem almost impossible, people have been fascinated by the idea of the Earth being uninhabitable at some point and what we’d do next.  Of course, we haven’t quite mastered the goal of being able to live on another planet, but people will always be interested in outer space and the idea of space travel for the average person.

When I came across  the Spaceport America website, I wonder really how many people are seriously going to consider space travel once it becomes a commercial endeavor.  Spaceport America is the first and largest company to begin promoting commercial flights to space.  Not surprising, it is located in Roswell,  New Mexico, the famed landing site of a UFO in 1947 and the home of further space exploration from that point on.  New Mexico is considered ideal for a space program of this sort due to the large, open space, dry weather and government support.  Aside from the Roswell incident, White Sands, New Mexico was for many years the home of a landing strip for the NASA space shuttles, and it now regularly hosts the X Prize Cup annual space flight exhibition.

And of course, we’ve all seen Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic team promoting space flight for the average person.  (You can see more of Virgin Galactic here.) You can see all about the flights here and also book your ticket, which will run you a cool $200,000 (but you only need to give a deposit of $20,000 right now!).

Would you pay that much just for a short trip above the earth?