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See this guy? This is astronaut Ron McNair, and he was awesome.

In 1959, when he was nine-years-old, he single-handedly desegregated a South Carolina library by going in, picking some books, trying to check them out, and refusing to leave until he could take the books with him.

He went on to be a physicist and became the second African American in space when he flew on STS-41-B aboard Challenger in 1984.

When he was selected for STS-51-L, which was to be his second mission, a special piece of music was composed for him to play on his saxophone for what would have been the first original piece of music recorded in space.

McNair tragically died in 1986 when the shuttle disintegrated seconds after lift-off, claiming the lives of all seven members of the Challenger 

There’s even a kids’ book about him.


our planet, the awefully beautiful thing. they say that looking at it from space makes you realize the unity & oneness of all life.

One of the astronauts said, “When we originally went to the moon, our total focus was on the moon we weren’t thinking about looking back at the Earth. But now that we’ve done it, that may well have been the most important reason we went.”


Eyes on the Stars

Twenty-seven years ago today [January 28, 2013], seven heroic explorers lost their lives in the name of science and discovery. When the space shuttle Challenger exploded after liftoff on January 28, 1986, their lives were tragically extinguished … but thankfully our quest for knowledge on Earth and beyond was not.

Ronald McNair was one of those seven astronauts. This is a beautiful animated tribute to his life. He grew up in a time when the color of his skin kept him from checking out a library book, much less dreaming of becoming an astronaut. But he persevered, and refused to wait for permission before setting out in search of what he wanted to discover, And discover he did.

That’s the beautiful thing about the space program. Sure, the experiments take place in orbit. But they inspire discovery on every square mile of the Earth they orbit. They remind us that anything is possible, with hard work and dedication, in the laboratory or the segregated library. Dr. Ron McNair tragically lost his life in pursuit of scientific progress, but that cultural progress lives on. It says that girl or boy or black or white or anywhere in between any two points on the spectrum of the human experience that you want to place your labels … you can do it. You define “it”.

Beyond the direct technological and economic benefits of NASA and all of the science they inspire, this shows how the desire to discover transcends the lab coat or the textbook and lands square in our own lap. Also, I think there’s something in my eye.

Don’t wait for permission. Eyes on the stars. Head to the future.

(via Bad Astronomy)


This Stunning View of Arctic Could Be Last of its Kind

Each summer, Arctic sea ice melts and recedes to a certain degree due to higher temperatures. But over the past few decades, the melting has gotten faster and more severe (the 2011 melt was a record low). Don’t believe me? Check out this video from NASA showing the change in summer ice from the past 32 years.

Climate change models have predicted the complete loss of summer ice in the Arctic by 2070 or so. But as this years melt begins, hot and fast, 2030 is looking like a real possibility for an ice-free Arctic. That means that in as little as 20 years, this photo could be a look into the past instead of the present.

(via Smart News)

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