Jupiter’s Big Day

NASA received a three-second beep to reassure them that the spacecraft had made it into orbit in one piece. Juno project manager Rick Nybakken told the room: “We just did the hardest thing NASA’s ever done.”

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by Shelby Traynor

Image credit: NASA/JPL

In Ancient Roman mythology, Jupiter claimed domain over the sky and the thunder. He cloaked himself in cloud to hide his mischief— but his wife, Juno, could see past it all. It’s no accident that NASA named a spacecraft after her (though they did give the craft a backronym in an attempt to cover their sentimental tracks), or that she has been zipping through space at almost 19 miles per second for the past five years, her sights set on Jupiter and it’s mysteries.

Juno snuck its way into Jupiter’s orbit on July 4th. At 11:18 PM Eastern Time the main engine started firing, slowing the spacecraft enough so it could fall into the planet’s orbit. At 11:53 PM, those engines were shut off. Almost four hundred million miles away, NASA received a three-second beep to reassure them that the spacecraft had made it into orbit in one piece. Juno project manager Rick Nybakken told the room: “We just did the hardest thing NASA’s ever done.” Continue reading “Jupiter’s Big Day”

STEM and the Arts: Why Choose?

The foundations of science rest on good artistry, just as good artistry depends on good science.

by Lynn Wang

Illustration by Charlotte Southall

A great deal of the way we talk about education and careers has to do with this implicit understanding that STEM and the arts—liberal and otherwise—are at odds with each other. You can hear it in the way your history teachers rail against your high school’s devotion to the arts, scornfully dubbed a “waste of resources.” Maybe you’re an art student who is amazing at what you do, but can’t fathom yourself sitting in another math class because x is just too hard to find. Or maybe you constantly have to listen to grumpy uncles who blame our generation’s unemployment on lazy millennials who all pick up English majors because they’re too stupid to hack (haha, get it?) an engineering or computer science degree.

Maybe it’s your classmates who reinforce the divide. It’s easy to spot in the way your engineering friends sneer at English majors, and vice versa. Or you’ve noticed how all your liberal arts-oriented peers on your semester abroad started to treat you differently when they found out you were a biochemistry major. The message are all the same: MATLAB doesn’t get along with Matisse, and that’s just the way it is. Continue reading “STEM and the Arts: Why Choose?”