To All Astrophiles

“Did you know, the Voyager Insight is going to land on Mars tomorrow?” said an excited son. T’was the night before school reopened after a joyous 10 day Thanksgiving break, and the night before the much anticipated Insight landing on Mars. I looked at his shining face when it should have been a sleepy one.  The sparkle in his eyes did not smack of eyes wanting to make the journey into the Land of Nod any time soon. So, I sat down next to him and said, “Really? How do you know?”

That’s better, his posture seemed to indicate, and said, “Yes…Appa told me. It has to land at an 12 degrees angle it seems.”

“Why 12 degrees?” I asked intrigued. 

Space.com article : Mars Insight Landing

Quote from article:

“InSight hit the thin Martian atmosphere at about 12,300 mph (19,800 km/h), nailing its entry angle of exactly 12 degrees. If the lander had come in any steeper than that, it would have burned up; any shallower, and it would have skipped off the atmosphere like a flat stone across a pond.”

After chatting a little more on the impressive Mars voyage, I asked the little fellow if we should read a book on Space exploration. He nodded. Anything to keep from falling asleep.

So, we picked up the sweet little children’s book, “Also an Octopus” or “A Little Bit of Nothing” 

also_an_octopus
Also an octopus : or, A little bit of nothing / Maggie Tokuda-Hall ; illustrated by Benji Davies

Also an octopus : or, A little bit of nothing / Maggie Tokuda-Hall ; illustrated by Benji Davies

The book is about an octopus who plays the ukulele, and wants to get on a purple spaceship. Who can help it build one though? Why a rabbit scientist of course!

 

We laughed as we read the book. As different as it was from Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk, it stretched one’s imagination in a thoroughly whimsical manner that made us giggle at the very thought of the Octopus on the spaceship. If ever we need to convince ourselves of the diversity of life that we seem to be threatening, we need look no further than the impressive marine life we host on Earth. 

counting_on_katherine
Counting on Katherine – by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

All space lovers should definitely read the beautifully illustrated children’s book, Counting on Katherine. Based on the scientists featured in Hidden Figures, Counting on Katherine illustrates the love for Mathematics and its application to space travels in the most endearing fashion. A child who has the inclination towards numbers cannot help deepen their fascination with them, and hopefully, those who do not share that fascination, will develop a curiosity towards them. I have always loved the look of a blackboard with neatly written mathematical formulae and calculations: this book captures the aesthetic beauty of the blackboard beautifully.

img_0287
Counting on Katherine – by Helaine Becker, Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk

Anyway back to Voyager Insight I said, “Do you think we can watch it land?” 

“Yes….it will be on You-tube.”, said the little fellow, positive that the image transmission from the Insight landing on another planet can make it to the nebulous internet without any trouble at all.

Here is a video link prepared by LockHeed Martin in collaboration with NASA’s JPL:

Automatically, my mind harked back to the old times when an image was work, precious work, with days in between clicking the pictures and getting them developed. When they came out, you saw the lighting could have been better the framing better, the shake a little less, and solemnly swore that you were up to no good, and waited it out till the next film roll proved it. 

I still marvel at any photographs we receive from Space. 

Human minds can adjust to improvements so easily – if only, we had the sagacity to adjust just as quickly to hardship.

3 thoughts on “To All Astrophiles”

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