Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Onion: “Mars Maven Begins Mission To Take Thousands Of High-Resolution Desktop Backgrounds”

WASHINGTON—Confirming that the probe successfully entered orbit around Mars late Sunday night, NASA officials reported today that the Maven spacecraft was now set to begin its mission of taking thousands of high-resolution computer backgrounds. “In its first year alone, the Maven probe will capture several hundred crisp desktop wallpapers of the Martian landscape in previously unattainable detail,” said NASA scientist Bruce Jakosky, noting that the space probe’s sophisticated instruments would ensure the backgrounds were in resolutions up to 1920×1200 and large enough to span two side-by-side monitors. “Maven has already taken preliminary images of the Bonneville crater, and we can confirm they look absolutely beautiful under a grid of desktop icons or protruding from the edges of a browser window.” According to Jakosky, after collecting enough computer backgrounds, researchers hoped to extend Maven’s mission and begin capturing images for a comprehensive Mars screensaver before the probe exhausts its fuel and crashes into the Martian surface.

Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX

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Why Mars? From two perspectives I think it’s important…um…exploration is really what separates humans from, from other living, moving “species” and, if, we decide that where we are today is “it”…um – I’m not saying there aren’t things to learn about here on Earth – but it just seems kind of like a big disappointment, that, we’d say “okay we’re here, this is it, we’re done” – you know “let’s just…hang in there, till then end”. Um, it just seems like a not very inspirational, ah, outlook and perspective. And the other piece – which is the scary piece – and um, it’s really risk management. For humans. The uh…I think the probability of a significant event happening on Earth is – is very high. Ah, or – ’scuse – when will it happen? I don’t know when it will happen but I’m pretty certain there will be a catastrophic event and ah it would be nice to have humans living in more than one spot. Um…yeah…I think that’s important. It’s risk management for humans.

The Onion: “NASA Administrator Resigns After Leak Of Offensive Anti-Moon Email”

Bolden reportedly made several comparisons between the moon and an empty parking lot and called the moon “one rung above space debris.”

HOUSTON—Saying he deeply regretted his “thoughtless and insensitive” comments, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced his resignation as head of the nation’s space agency Tuesday following the disclosure of an email in which he made a number of disparaging statements about the moon.

Bolden, a 35-year NASA veteran, had reportedly faced mounting pressure to step aside ever since an internal office email in which he characterized the moon as “useless” and “a barren eyesore” came to light several weeks ago.

“I am truly sorry for the inappropriate, untrue, and hurtful things I wrote about the moon,” Bolden said at a press conference from Johnson Space Center, adding that he was vacating his post immediately so that NASA could quickly begin the search for a leader who “better embodies the agency’s high standard of conduct.” “My words were poorly chosen and do not reflect my true feelings about the moon nor the beliefs of the dedicated men and women at NASA. The moon has been integral not just to our nation’s space program, but also to Earth itself, regulating tides and stabilizing the planet’s rotational axis for billions of years.”

“NASA deserves better than my indefensible remarks,” added Bolden. “And, most of all, so does the moon.”

In the email, sent to several top NASA officials, an exasperated Bolden appears to vent his frustrations about the agency’s historic involvement with the moon, going so far as to say that Earth’s lone natural satellite “all but ruins the night sky for me” and that every dollar spent on lunar exploration might as well have been “thrown straight in the trash.” Later in the email, Bolden seems to downplay the significance of the recent 45th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing, wondering “how the hell Neil Armstrong just didn’t fall asleep walking around on that thing.”

Longtime colleagues of Bolden told reporters that while they respected him for his many contributions to the agency over the course of his career, they agreed that his remarks concerning the widely beloved celestial body, unmistakably sent from his email account and typed by his own hand, had destroyed his credibility.

“I wish I could understand what would possess someone so committed to space exploration to say such ugly things about the moon,” NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot said, adding that he was shocked and appalled when he read Bolden’s wish that the moon would “just wane itself out of existence.” “But his comments were clearly inexcusable. Unfortunately, I think his resignation was the only way for NASA, and for Charles himself, to move forward.”

“This isn’t the Charles Bolden I know,” added Lightfoot. “At least the one I thought I knew.”

Several unnamed NASA sources, however, told reporters that Bolden’s moon email was indicative of a pattern of intolerance that spanned decades and that also included derogatory comments about astronomical phenomena such as pulsars, sunspots, and the spherical mass of comet-like objects beyond the outermost planets known as the Oort cloud.

Additionally, sources pointed to an event honoring the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, when a hot mic reportedly caught Bolden calling gas giant planets “big fucking nothings.”

While an interim NASA administrator is expected to be appointed within days, Bolden himself acknowledged that it would take time to find a successor capable of undoing the damage he had inflicted and even suggested that his attacks on the moon may in fact have irreparably tarnished the space agency’s legacy.

“The person who will assume my post will be forced to shoulder an immense burden of my own making,” Bolden said. “For the sake of America’s space program, I only hope he or she will have the commitment and wherewithal to slowly build back the trust that I violated with my destructive words about Earth’s moon. It is a special, important, and unique astronomical body, and NASA will always remain committed to it.”

At press time, NASA was launching a probe to deliver its formal apologies to the moon.

Style Like U: “Carter Emmart”

“Whatever I wear is just a reflection of the delight that I have in being able to be exposed to the
world. I try to take this view as we go into space and bring it to humanity, as we are all afloat on
this one ball, this Paradise in the Universe.” Carter Emmart


“Carter is the Director of Astrovisualization at the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History.

While the fashion business shakes over the new wave of Paris Hilton-types in the front row, I am quaking over Carter, whose fashion reflects both his travels worldwide and literally out of this world, as the one who is responsible for taking the science of the universe and making it visible. He feels that to understand something and to turn it into a whole career, one should have a deep knowledge of that subject. Carter has not only worked at NASA and with the second person to walk on the moon, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, he regularly visits and studies about places such as the Hindu Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia, a ruin built in the twelfth-century that he has been fascinated with since he was a kid. He feels that places like this, as well as cathedrals and other stone edifaces that are odes to God, are models of the universe in their attempt to reach for the heavens, much like the plantetarium today. The jewelry and scarves piled on his neck and wrists, from Bangkok, Vietnam, Mali, Greece, and many places in between, are as much a reflection of the all-encompassing scope of his life as a scientist of the stars as his jumpsuit from 8th St. circa 1985 (worn as much for fashion as for the hope of going into space). Carter’s office is a virtual, cosmic, mind-blowing creative explosion of everything from children’s toys and books to the most esoteric publications and every conceivable artifact of the journey of his life imaginable (see the picture captions). In the case of Carter, the leopard jeans and Dirty Rat Bastard sneakers are all about the vision of the man who wears them. I don’t know many whose perspective literally comes from Mars and back.”


orig_tn_photo-9729-260652orig_tn_photo-9729-887530 Carter-Emmartorig_tn_photo-9729-71314orig_tn_photo-9729-356664orig_tn_photo-9729-68310