Of course I saw the movie Martian. It was a way to for my students and staff to celebrate our accomplishments after a long year of preparation and execution of the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Space (ISPCS). I will get back to the movie, which we all recommend. It has a lot more technical accuracy than the movie Gravity. It got 3.5 stars from our group. After the show we discussed the fact that we are in the middle of football season, the baseball playoffs on here, we are heading in to the peak of the Tough Enough to Wear Pink campaign, and soon NMSU Home Coming will be here. Yet, the space industry has no season, no play offs, no championship games, not even a campaign or fund raising season. We have an eclipse every so often but really what is there to bring people together for our industry?
Ah, World Space Week. Right you’ve never heard of it. Well, it was going on during ISPCS. Since its United Nations declaration in 1999, World Space Week according to the website, has grown into the largest public space event on Earth. More than 1,400 events in 80 countries celebrated the benefits of space and excitement about space exploration in 2014. Here is the language from the enabling charter, “The UN General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.” With our new deep space discoveries theme “Discovery” we aim to inspire even more events around the world in October 2015. Humm, NMSU’s positioning statement is, “Its all about Discovery.” We humans are explorers. We launch expeditions of discovery as part of the human growth experience, at NMSU we call it getting a college degree. NASA is engaged in discovery as part of their mission.
I work with students here at New Mexico Space Grant on the NMSU main campus. They have been taking exams this week. There is nothing cool about exams. All my student employees are in the Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Program. It is a cool program with great faculty, wonderful projects and design competitions, and it is the largest enroller in the College of Engineering. Taylor Burgett who was in the Sun News Shark Tank photo is one of our students. Students employees know, their first job is school, their second job is work. Thermodynamics is the current course under scrutiny at the Space Grant office – there was an exam this week. Thermodynamics got a lot of attention in the Martian movie too.
If you have not seen the movie, an earth bound use of thermodynamics is your heating and cooling system. Thermo- temperature, dynamics – activity that relates to energy or the work of a system like a heating and cooling system. The physics of thermodynamics and the written understanding of its relationship to energetic systems is complex and very important to humans who live and work in space. The space business is complex. It is hard, expensive and dangerous. Explorers or migrants who cross a large open body of water in a life raft are just as courageous as any astronaut or explorer. The reason for exploration or migration is irrelevant in a life and death journey. Thousands of migrants are on a journey of exploration every day right now. It is a good time to discuss space exploration and discovery on a large human scale. We do it, we are mammals and we migrate. We change jobs, we have children, we explore, we discover.
One of the attendees at the Community Partnership luncheon held on October 6th, asked the panelists why are we spending money exploring space? Greg Johnson who flew on the second to last Shuttle mission answered. He said I bet Ferdinand and Isabella had to answer this same question about Columbus. Humans explore. We explore new jobs, we explore studying to better ourselves, we migrate across town or across continents. Often explorers do not know what they will encounter, certainly our astronauts are for more prepared than the current population of migrants. But they are on the move by the thousands every day as I write this article. The juxtapositions of the human condition are constant. There is nothing constant about humans except change. When humans start flying to space from New Mexico you will see migrations here. It will come. Humans are herd animals. We travel in groups, when we travel we bring other with us on our journeys.
Back to the Martian. I wore a SpaceX t-shirt to the movie that said OCCUPY MARS. After the movie, I went to Office Max. One of the customers in the store saw my t-shirt and said, I loved the movie, I saw it 3 times. Now I know why young folks wear those shirts. That was the most fun I’ve ever had at Office Max. Go ahead, explore, migrate, discover. Just wearing a t-shirt in public was an exploration for me.