Tag Archives: nasa

…across the gulf of space…

Last week, I got to do one of the coolest things I've ever done in my life: I went to JPL in La Canada to record a video for the landing of Mars Curiosity on August 5.

I have to believe that their first through eighth choices weren't available, because it's the only thing that makes sense, but somehow I was chosen to be the host and narrator of a video for, among other outlets, NASA TV, that explains how Curiosty gets to the surface of Mars, and what she'll do once she's there. It's pretty incredible stuff, and I am still astonished that I was chosen to be the guy.

While I was at JPL, I got to get up close and personal with the full-scale replica of the rover that stays on Earth while her sister goes to Mars, so I took a few pictures:

image from i.imgur.com
image from i.imgur.com
I grew up about 10 minutes from JPL, so I lived around a lot of NASA sceintists and went to JPL's open house every year. Being chosen to go to JPL to make the modern equivalent of the films I loved watching when I was a kid was a tremendous honor. I'll post the video I made whenever it's live.

Robot Astronomy Talk Show: Destroyer of Worlds

A few times a year, I get to go over to the Spitzer Science Center at Cal Tech, and do some voice over work for these wonderful educational shorts. I'm really proud to be a small part of IRrelevant Astronomy; we're making science accessible and entertaining, and hopefully inspiring people to learn more about our universe.

A few days ago, the most recent episode I did was released. It's called DESTROYER OF WORLDS.


In this one, I play a character who may be familiar to some of you, called The Physician. I hope you enjoy it.

And as long as I have your attention, I thought I'd share a few astronomy-related links that I find educational, inspiring, entertaining, or all of the above:

Have fun, and keep looking up.

 

let’s go to the moon

When I was a kid, I read this cool book from National Geographic called Let's Go To The Moon. It was, as you may have figured out, all about the Apollo program, but mostly focused on Apollo 11.

I already liked science fiction and astronomy (well, the little-kid-without-a-telescope version of astronomy, which was mostly limited to finding constellations and planets, but we all have to start somewhere) so I spent a lot of time with that book, imagining what it would be like to fly to the moon, walk around on it, and come home.

This week is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, and I've found a few things that I thought I'd share, if for no other reason than 9-year-old me would think they're cool:

SomaFM has a really cool station Mission Control:

Mission Control will feature ambient space music that's somewhere
between Space Station Soma and Drone Zone, mixed with NASA audio.  In
the future, we'll have other historical space exploration rebroadcasts
as well as live Space Shuttle coverage.

Did you see the LRO photos of the Apollo mission sites?

I'm kind of Pink Floyd super fan number one, but I didn't know that the band was invited by BBC to improvise a soundtrack to the moon landing. Can you imagine something like that happening today? If it had been post-Meddle, I bet they'd just have played some epic version of Echoes.

We Choose The Moon is the kind of multimedia experience I always hoped the Internet would provide, back in the olden days when digital watches were a pretty neat idea.

In one of the more clever uses of Twitter that I've seen, there are three Twitter accounts recreating the mission communications: @AP11_CAPCOM, @AP11_SPACECRAFT, and @AP11_EAGLE.

NASA has newly-released mission audio, restored Apollo 11 video, and a real-time replay of the mission that you can stream online if you have Windows Media Player. Mac and *nix users should be able to use the audio player at We Choose The Moon (powered by Shoutcast, FTW) to hear it. I've been listening to it for almost an hour, and it's more compelling than I expected.

Tor.com is celebrating the Apollo anniversary (and their own) by asking authors, artists, critics, and fans in the science fiction community to
send their stories of what they were doing when the LEM landed on
the lunar surface, and to relate how it informed their relationship
with science fiction. (The blog post I've linked is awesome. You should really go read it.)

Even if you only get a couple of minutes, and you can only look at some of this stuff, I hope you will, and I hope find it as inspiring as I do. To steal a phrase from Torie at Tor:

Every time I look at those images I am moved by the breadth of human
ingenuity. All my cynicism is replaced by a belief that with passion,
hard work, and perseverance, we can overcome any barrier—even the ones
we didn’t know we had set for ourselves. We can achieve any measure of
greatness. We can become our fiction and make our dreams something
tangible, attainable.

We can touch the sky.

Mike Okuda to be honored by NASA!

When I worked on TNG, I spent most of my free time doing two things: painting Warhammer 40K miniatures, and hanging out in the art department.

I loved the art department. From the very first time I walked into their workspace, Mike Okuda and Rick Sternbach let me look at their sketches, geek out about the science part of science fiction, and gave me a place to go every day where it was okay to be a huge nerd who loved science and design.

They became my friends, and like my other cow-orker Guy Vardaman (who was my stand-in), they nurtured my geeky side so much, I was never "at risk" like other teenage actors who bought into the myth that all young actors should party their lives away in Hollywood night clubs.

I just saw this on Doug Drexler's blog:

Michael Okuda has been selected
to receive one of NASA’s highest honors; the NASA Exceptional Public
Service Medal. “The award is granted only to individuals whose
distinguished accomplishments contributed substantially to the NASA
mission. The contribution must be so extraordinary that other forms of
recognition would be inadequate.” Mike and Denise will be going to the
Johnson Space Center next month to the NASA Honor Awards Ceremony. Go Hot dog! GO!

WOW! Congratulations, Mike. This is an award that is richly deserved.