UNITED STATES NASA has announced that it is seeking new astronauts. Find out what you need to apply! (Washington Post) Do you really need five reasons why it’s awesome to be an astronaut? Here they are, in any case! (And it doesn’t even count having your poop become shooting stars!) Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit. Learn more … Continue reading NASA Wants YOU!

What Happens to Astronaut Poop? Look to the Skies!

SCIENCE What will happen to Astronaut Scott Kelly’s body during his year in space? With a nod to Leonardo, NASA diagrams it for us. (NASA) Do you really need to ask why astronauts are awesome? Well, here are 5 Reasons Why to get you started. Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit. Discussion Ideas First, a little background: … Continue reading What Happens to Astronaut Poop? Look to the Skies!

Astronaut Wants Our Help!

SCIENCE The European Space Agency is asking people to choose a name for British astronaut Tim Peake’s next mission to the International Space Station. (BBC) Any name is going to have a hard time topping this. Discussion Ideas The European Space Agency (ESA) competition to name Tim Peake’s mission is open to citizens or residents of all ESA member states. (Take a look here for … Continue reading Astronaut Wants Our Help!

The Tears of an Astronaut

SCIENCE The Tears of an Astronaut In space, no one can hear you scream. But can they hear you cry? In this new video, Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Chris Hadfield demonstrates the physics of tears in space. Discussion Ideas: The final words spoken by Chris Hadfield, the astronaut in the video, are “It’s gravity.” Actually, it’s surface tension in zero-gravity! Can students explain how a lack … Continue reading The Tears of an Astronaut

Five For Friday: Reasons Why I Never Want To Be an Astronaut (or: why I’d rather be exploring oceans)

The final launch of space shuttle Atlantis on 7/8/2011, Cape Canaveral. Credit: Julie Doyle
At 15, I began scuba diving as part of a volunteer group dedicated to monitoring coral health. We learned how to dive, how to conduct transects of sea beds, and how to report the data back to the WWF. The first time I entered a vibrant coral reef (on the Mindoro Island coast in the Philippines), a funny thing happened. The ocean washed away my childhood fantasies of space travel. I later stopped reading science fiction (I had been obsessed with the Ender’s Game series), partially because nothing described in books could compare to what I saw in real life under the sea. 
As of yesterday, NASA’s human space flight program done. Many people have written about their disappointment that the human space program is over, and I understand that. The sense of adventure captured by astronauts is undeniable. NPR’s recent piece “So You Want to be an Astronaut,” traces this affection, and even attracted over a thousand personal testimonies to their Facebook page from people who still dream of launching into space. 
I have a different opinion on the program’s demise. In the hopes of finding a silver lining in the end of the astronaut program, and to push that expeditionary spirit in another direction, this post gives five reasons why extraterrestrial exploration isn’t that great. And after all, there’s so much else to explore…
1. Moonscapes are pretty barren (probably mars too): While fascinating from afar, the moon proved that scale can ruin the whole experience. Once you get down to the rock and dust,  it’s not that cool. The most interesting life in our solar system is right here on earth. The ocean, for example, is another world, teeming with life, waiting to be explored. And it is beautiful. If I could choose between walking on the moon and scuba diving in a coral reef, I’d choose the one with the beautiful creatures and dynamic ecosystems. Part of our fascination with space, I think, is the desire to fly  and transcend our terrestrial limitations. I’d encourage you to look down instead of up. Here’s Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who pioneered the scuba tank and underwater film making: 

Continue reading “Five For Friday: Reasons Why I Never Want To Be an Astronaut (or: why I’d rather be exploring oceans)”