You can boldly go with this NASA mission to 'touch the sun' - We Are The Mighty
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You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’

Want to get the hottest ticket this summer without standing in line?


NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission launching in summer 2018. The mission will travel through the Sun’s atmosphere, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and your name will go along for the ride.

“This probe will journey to a region humanity has never explored before,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This mission will answer questions scientists have sought to uncover for more than six decades.”

Also read: 21 of the most stunning images of our planet NASA ever took

Understanding the Sun has always been a top priority for space scientists. Studying how the Sun affects space and the space environment of planets is the field known as heliophysics. The field is not only vital to understanding Earth’s most important and life-sustaining star, it supports exploration in the solar system and beyond.

Submissions will be accepted until April 27, 2018. Learn more and add your name to the mission here.

 

The spacecraft, about the size of a small car, will travel directly into the Sun’s atmosphere about 4 million miles from the star’s surface. The primary science goals for the mission are to trace how energy and heat move through the solar corona and to explore what accelerates the solar wind as well as solar energetic particles. The mission will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, where changing conditions can spread out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds.

Related: NASA targets Saturn’s moon with new drone missions

To perform these unprecedented investigations, the spacecraft and instruments will be protected from the Sun’s heat by a 4.5-inch-thick carbon-composite shield, which will need to withstand temperatures outside the spacecraft that reach nearly 2,500 F. This state-of-the-art heat shield will keep the four instrument suites designed to study magnetic fields, plasma and energetic particles, and image the solar wind at room temperature.

The spacecraft speed is so fast, at its closest approach it will be going at approximately 430,000 mph. That’s fast enough to get from Washington, D.C., to Tokyo in under a minute.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
(NASA)

“Parker Solar Probe is, quite literally, the fastest, hottest — and, to me, coolest — mission under the Sun,” said project scientist Nicola Fox, of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. “This incredible spacecraft is going to reveal so much about our star and how it works that we’ve not been able to understand.”

Honoring a science legend

In May 2017, NASA renamed the spacecraft from the Solar Probe Plus to the Parker Solar Probe in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker. The announcement was made at a ceremony at the University of Chicago, where Parker serves as the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

This was the first time NASA named a spacecraft for a living individual.

NASA missions are most often renamed after launch and certification. In this case, given Parker’s accomplishments within the field, and how closely aligned this mission is with his research, the decision was made to honor him prior to launch, in order to draw attention to his important contributions to heliophysics and space science.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Eugene Parker, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, visits the spacecraft that bears his name, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, on Oct. 3, 2017. Engineers in the clean room at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, where the probe was designed and built, point out the instruments that will collect data as the mission travels directly through the Sun’s atmosphere. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

In the 1950s, Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars — including our Sun — give off energy. He called this cascade of energy the solar wind, and he described an entire complex system of plasmas, magnetic fields and energetic particles that make up this phenomenon. Parker also theorized an explanation for the superheated solar atmosphere, the corona, which is — contrary to what was expected by physics laws — hotter than the surface of the Sun itself. Many NASA missions have continued to focus on this complex space environment defined by our star.

More: NASA has a job opening for someone to defend Earth from aliens

Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA’s Living with a Star Program, or LWS, to explore aspects of the Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. LWS is managed by the NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, in Laurel, Maryland, manages the Parker Solar Probe mission for NASA. APL is designing and building the spacecraft and will also operate it.

For additional information about the Parker Solar Probe mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/parkersolarprobe

Articles

This is how the Patriot Guard escorted a fallen Marine home

What started out as a way to support the families of fallen military and law enforcement personnel reached a new high in honoring the fallen.


According to Tribunist.org, the Patriot Guard Riders, a group of motorcyclists, learned that Staff Sergeant Jonathan Turner, a Marine who died of combat-related injuries in August, 2015, would be shipped to his mother in Georgia via FedEx. Turner served 17 years in the Marine Corps and made seven combat deployments during the War on Terror.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Patriot Guard Riders. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Turner’s mother was unable to make it to California, so the Marine Corps made the funeral arrangements. However, the plan to ship Staff Sergeant Turner’s remains to Georgia would hit a snag.

Instead, the Patriot Guard Riders stepped in to caravan Turner’s remains to Georgia. The group, which started as a way to provide a barrier between a group protesting military funerals and grieving families, has since expanded to fill out the ranks for homeless veterans who died and welcomes home troops returning from overseas.

“We did this primarily because his mother was unable to attend the services, and he had been cremated and we didn’t want him to go home in a Fed Ex box,” David Noble, the Vice President of Members for the group, told Tribunist.org. Riders from nine states took part in the cross-country trek.

Below, see the video of Patriot Guard members handing over Staff Sgt. Turner’s remains.

Articles

These 7 recruiting ads from around the world just might get you to sign up (again)

The military recruiting playbook in the U.S. is pretty standard. The commercials show off the coolest gear while epic music plays. Maybe a Medal of Honor recipient makes an appearance.


Around the world, nations like Canada and Russia take a similar tack while Ukraine and others go with a quieter ad that focuses on the individual soldiers.

1. The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command

The Canadian Special Operations Forces Command keep it simple when making their commercial in 2013. It’s just a few simple, repeating music notes and a highlight reel of cool stuff they do, from rappelling out of planes to violently ending hostage standoffs.

2. The Swedish Military

Sweden wants you to know that their military may not dominate feature a lot of awesome special effects, but they have some great careers where you get to make a difference. It’s shockingly honest. Wanna bet Swedish soldiers still complain about their recruiters lying to them?

3. The Ukrainian Armed Forces

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7mj8KGRgKI

Ukraine is recruiting soldiers while fighting a much larger and more powerful military. Their commercial reminds Ukrainians that troops come from all backgrounds but come together to defend their people from violence.

4. The Russian Navy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWK03XePbXk

The Russian Navy commercial is pretty high-speed, but features a few unexpected scenes like when the naval gun turns towards the camera at 1:50 with the barrel covered. Of course, the glimpses of sailors working out shirtless around the 2:00 mark were expected.

A Russian Army commercial from the same time is also good.

5. Finland Defence Forces

Sure, you can have a normal job instead, but Finland wants their potential recruits to know that they could have a range target as a resume, an armored vehicle for their drive to work, and have their trade secrets protected by thick steel doors. It’s a quiet but poignant ad.

6. Australian Army

The Australian Army commercial feels more like the opening to a new TV show than a military recruitment ad. It features photogenic troops in parades and hangars while zero people fire a weapon. It also mentions the surprisingly small number of troops they field, less than 45,000.

7. Japanese Army

The Japanese Army walks a fine line. Japan became a relatively un-military country after World War II (by design) but is expanding military programs in response to Chinese expansion and terrorist threats. Their recruiting ads reflect this fine line, using innocuous graphics and pink backgrounds right after showing troops on the march.

Articles

21 things sailors who’ve served in Yokosuka will understand

The sailors assigned to the commands around Yokosuka, Japan know about high optempo. The units assigned to Forward Deployed Naval Forces Japan are either on deployment or working up for deployment.


But with limited liberty time, the sailors of Yokosuka (and Atsugi) also learn how to play hard.

Here are 21 things every sailor who’s ever been stationed there knows all too well:

Related: 7 lies sailors tell their parent while deployed

1. Your weekend begins with a Liberty plan and a designated buddy

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher S. Johnson

(The liberty plan may not apply to those before 2002 or after 2014. Lucky you.)

2. But in reality, you have alternate plans

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’

3. Instead, you pregame with a Chu-Hi or three

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Image: Kirin

4. And head for the Honch

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Off to the Honch, Yokosuka, Japan. Image: Shissem

5. But you only stay for a while because you don’t get along with the regulars: a.k.a. ‘shore patrol’

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Instagram, zacharyattackery

6. And, trust us on this one, you won’t stand a chance if you start your Captain’s Mast like this:

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
YouTube, Paul Coleman

7. Dinner options always brings out the toughest debates

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Image: Rocket News 24

(By the way, Sukiya is way better.)

8. You opt for taco, rice, and cheese because there’s no way to come to an agreement

 

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Photo Credit: Okinawa Hai!

9. Or maybe you settle on ramen (because it’s crazy delicious)

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Pinterest, Honest Cooking

10. After dinner, it’s off to Roppongi

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Giphy

11. You learn to stay away from “buy me drink” bars

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Giphy

12. You learn that trains stop running at midnight . . .

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
YouTube, kennooo93

… the hard way.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’

12. But if you happen to miss the last train the real debauchery begins

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Giphy

13. Really, what’s a sailor to do without transportation? 

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Instagram, AgehaTokyo

15. Somehow you always manage to save just enough cash to get you back to base

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Flickr, BriYYZ

16. You know you missed your stop when signs are no longer in English

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Flickr, François Rejeté

17. Luckily, the Japanese people are very friendly

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Giphy

18. MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) trips are great for holding on to your money, exploring Japan and staying out of trouble. You could visit Kyoto …

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺), Kyoto, Kyoto prefecture, Japan. Image: Wikimedia

19. … climb Mount Fuji …

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Image: US Navy

20. … or take an epic snowboarding trip to Nagano

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Image: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty

21. And you know how to make the best of a liberty incident

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
VAW-115 barracks party. (Photo: Orvelin Valle, We Are The Mighty)

Articles

Why the food in Guam is as funky and awesome as anywhere on the mainland

In a U.S. territory half a world removed from the continental United States, what does it mean to be American? To find out, Meals Ready To Eat host August Dannehl shipped off to the far reaches of Pacific Micronesia, to Guam.


You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
A sea of American flags in the heart of the Pacific. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Guam is a tiny island with a full dance card of seemingly competing cultural histories. Its indigenous people, the Chamorro, called it home for 4000 years, but after the island was “discovered” by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, it experienced several centuries of European colonization, capture, and rule that heaped Spanish, Catholic, American, and Japanese cultural influence atop the foundations of its identity.

But where other territories with similar fraught histories stumble through the modern era in crisis and without a firm sense of collective “self,” Guamanians wove themselves into the fabric of democratic and multicultural America. They celebrate their 21st century hybridity with exuberance, with fervent patriotism and military service, and with a food culture so funky and delicious, people travel from all over the globe to get in on it.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Imagine this, but in a taco. With crab. And star fruit. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Why choose? (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

In Guam, you find patriotism in its purest form, animated by gratitude for life. Guamanians have earned a deep understanding of how precarious human existence can be, whether it’s an island in the middle of the ocean or an oasis in the heart of the desert or a small, blue planet in the void of space.

Guamanians don’t just feel gratitude, they act on its behalf. As a people, they serve in the U.S. military at a higher rate than any of the 50 states.

When the Americans came and liberated us, they became family. That patriotism from our ancestors or those even living today, it continues on. And that’s an honor to be part of a nation that gives freedom, to be part of something greater than this tiny island…that’s what makes us American. —Sgt. Joleen Castro, U.S. Air Force

Their service reflects their dedication to the American ideal, yes, but it’s also an expression of inafa’maolek, or interdependence, the core value of the Chamorro people. Guamanians, at the deepest level of their tradition, celebrate collective prosperity, unity and togetherness. They celebrate the good.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Unsurprisingly, they throw incredible parties. (Meals Ready To Eat screenshot)

Watch more Meals Ready To Eat:

Army food will make you feel the feels

This whiskey is a WWII victory, distilled

This is what happens when you run your kitchen like a platoon

Articles

How the fall of the Berlin Wall affected techno music

Berlin is known as the techno music capital of the world. Much to the chagrin of Detroit, where the style originated, the German city took the style and baked it right into their up-and-coming ’90s culture. How that happened has a unique history, including political events that allowed the city to flourish with its own thriving music scene. 

Techno music as we know it wouldn’t exist today without the fall of the Berlin Wall and the German Democratic Republic. Here’s why:

When East Germany reunified with the West, there was a lull. A lull in government jurisdiction, in law enforcement, and in collecting assets. For years, large buildings that had disputed ownerships sat empty with no one keeping an eye on them and no one enforcing what took place within their walls. Because of this lack of order, young music fans were given the chance to thrive.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
For some strange reason, everyone was ready for a little less law and order (screen capture from YouTube)

They would host parties in these abandoned buildings, illegally, but with little consequence. An underground movement began where locations spread by word of mouth. The were multiple-day parties in industrial settings where there were basically no rules — sex, drugs, and dancing were all welcome. The only rule? Remain respectful to those around you. 

Parties were first held through an underground scene, radios or flyers would provide instructions to call a number at a certain time, and the person receiving the call would provide the location of the party. Usually, a single party was held for a day or two at a location, then it was off to the next spot to avoid attracting too much attention. 

Techno enthusiasts explored and found empty buildings across East Berlin where they could throw their parties. Factories, empty apartment buildings, former military sites, even condemned buildings. Most locations had been confiscated by Nazis, then sat empty while legal battles determined the property’s rightful owner. In the meantime, they fell into disrepair and served as the perfect locations for multi-day techno raves. 

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
“I see four walls and a working outlet. Let’s party!” (Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash)

Before the fall

Before the fall of the wall, East Germans had their radio censored. Young people would travel near the wall where they could, on occasion, pick up radio signals from West Berlin’s freeform waves, including disco parties that were often broadcast. Some dance parties, few and far between, were hosted in East Germany. That, however, required an appeal to the government, which took months of red tape to become approved. 

But once the wall was taken down, all bets were off. East Germans were now free to attend techno dance scenes. But they were soon outgrown, with the ability to only hold about 100 people at a time. A need emerged, and techno fans began creating their own parties. Finding bigger and bigger venues to fit their growing fan base. 

A legal venture

Over time, these industrial buildings were transformed and turned into actual dance and music clubs. Eventually, it became a business, owned by the same people who were previously throwing parties illegally. Techno events were no longer on a pop-up schedule, but a certified brand. It’s worth noting that liquor or attendance permits weren’t yet enforced; the government was still working on regulating. There simply wasn’t infrastructure in place to check on a business’ paperwork. This allowed these non-experienced entrepreneurs to roll in more money early on, and brush up on their business chops as regulations were put into place.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
There must be a ton of Germans in their fifties that talk about the old days and call these people posers… (Wikimedia Commons)

Of course, over time, the disco scene in Germany became more regulated. With the government seeing it as an important part of tourism and city revenue, it provided support, allowing the town’s techno business to grow far quicker than in other countries (like Detroit). To account for a growing club scene, Germany did away with things like closing times (the clubs stay open all weekend) and dress codes (you might just a naked person dancing. Don’t be alarmed). There was also no “last call” for alcohol. Today, it continues to offer thriving nightlife opportunities to citizens and visitors alike, as well as providing huge profits for the city as a whole. 

Articles

This Japanese Dish Exists Only Because Of The US Military

As an overseas hub for U.S. military bases, Okinawa, Japan is known among troops for its beautiful coastline, hot and humid weather, and a unique fusion food simply referred to as TRC.

“Tacos had already been introduced to Okinawa by the Americans, but it was more like a snack – not very filling for Americans. And it was something you couldn’t find at a restaurant,” Parlor Senri restaurant’s Sayuri Shimabukuro Shimabukuro told Stripes Okinawa. “Matsuzo decided to substitute the taco shell with rice, which is relatively faster to cook and also filling. Parlor Senri’s customers were 100 percent Americans, and in order for the wait staff to explain the dish, he named it taco rice.”

TRC, or “Taco, Rice, and Cheese,” — a Mexican-Japanese fusion dish that exists only because of the U.S. military presence on the island — is most simply put, a giant taco salad with rice instead of the taco shell. First introduced on the island in 1984, it’s now a staple among U.S. service-members stationed there.

The dish is so popular among troops that most shops that serve it are literally walking distance from the base gates. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to it.

There’s considerable debate among shop owners as to who came up with TRC first. According to Stripes Okinawa, multiple shops in Kin (the town outside Camp Hansen) claim it was their idea. But while we’re trying to figure out who cooked it first, you can always make it yourself at home.

SEE ALSO: 5 Signs You’ve Been In The Barracks Too Long

TRAVEL

Why Bangor, Maine is the most patriotic town in America

There are a lot of factors to consider when you’re trying to determine if any single place is the very best at something. However, when it comes to small towns supporting their troops, Bangor, Maine holds the distinction of very best. They are known for their willingness to make it to the airport and shake the hands of nearly every post-9/11 troop who’s gone from stateside to overseas, at all hours of the days, no matter what.


To be fair to every other patriotic town in America, plenty of Bangor’s ability to show it’s patriotism stems from its location. Since most military flights leaving the continental U.S. towards Europe and Southwest Asia fly through Maine, past Greenland and Iceland, and refuel somewhere in Ireland or the U.K., Bangor is usually the first and last U.S. stop most troops see before and after a deployment.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Odd how a handshake or a warm hug can make a difference to hardened war fighters. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood)

Where Bangor shines is within the Maine Troop Greeters. Beginning in May 2003, a small group of Bangor-area residents gathered to meet troops at the Bangor International Airport. Since then, they have greeted well over 7,600 flights and over 1.5 million troops. Rain or shine, day or night, and nearly everyday, they’re out there. With a town population that could easily fit into the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, one of the smallest NCAA football stadiums, the Maine Troop Greeters of Bangor are still over 600 strong. From older veterans to soccer moms with kids to pretty college girls, everyone in Bangor comes to see the troops.

 

It’s far more than just a “thank you for your service” from a random stranger. They provide snacks, meals, and use of their cell phones to outgoing and incoming troops. In return, many troops have given them small tokens of gratitude. Troops give them things like challenge coins, combat patches, and even uniforms out of appreciation. In response to this patriotic exchange, they’ve created a museum to honor every troop that walks through their line of handshakes and hugs.

Their museum to the troops has over 5,500 unique challenge coins, over 1,800 patches, and many photos. There are also two books: One log book that troops can write in and another dedicated to each troop who died in combat. Soldiers have written countless thank yous over the years to the people of Bangor.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53YCnVdq6uM

(Maine Troop Greeters | YouTube)

MIGHTY TRENDING

This Marine remembers Morocco’s amazing food more than anything else

Navy veteran and Food Network Allstar, August Dannehl cooks a four course meal for his fellow vets based on stories from their service. A braised pork belly inspired by the MRE’s feared dehydrated pork product, Chicken Tagine inspired by a training mission in Morocco – these elements provide the backdrop for a holiday celebration between veterans.


Donna’s first visit to Morocco was for a training mission with the Marine Corps. It was on this trip that she and her unit befriended the owner and crew of a small local restaurant. They would eat there so often that their business provided new clothing for all of the servers and their families and when it came to leave, they were made this delicious parting meal.

Chicken Tagine w/ Preserved Lemon and Saffron CousCous

Inspired by Donna’s Service in Morocco

Ingredients
Tagine
8 lg. chicken thighs
2 tbs spice mix
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
1 large white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbs grated fresh ginger
2 tsp saffron
2 tb tomato paste
2 cups low-salt chicken stock
1 cup castelvetrano olives

Spice Mix
3 ½ tbs sweet paprika
1 tbs garlic powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs ground coriander
2 tbs ground turmeric
1 tbs ginger powder
½ tbs ground cardamom
2 ½ tsp ground allspice

Couscous
3 cups couscous
3 cups low-salt chicken stock
4 tbs. unsalted butter
2 tsp. saffron threads (crumbled)
Also need
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
½ bunch cilantro, leaves

Prepare
Prepare the CousCous by heating the chicken stock, butter and saffron over medium-heat until boiling. Add couscous and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10-12 minutes (until couscous is tender). Add salt, pepper and drizzle of olive oil to taste. Set aside.
Combine the spices in a dry sauté pan set over low heat, and toast them gently until they release their fragrance, 2 minutes or so. Transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool. Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken thighs with the salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the spice mix, along with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large dutch over over medium heat, and sear the chicken in batches, starting skin-side down, until the thighs are browned. Remove all but two tablespoons of the fat in pan, then return it to the heat, and brown the cauliflower and add the chicken.
Reduce heat below the pan, and add the onion, garlic, ginger and saffron. Cook, stirring, until the onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, lemons and chicken stock and simmer until reduced by 1/3. Cover pot and transfer to over for 30 mins.
Serve with on top of couscous with cilantro garnish.

Music courtesy of Jingle Punks
Dramatic Classical Hip Hop – Trent Williamson

Faded-JP – Shota Ike

Articles

Exclusive interview with US Naval Undersea Museum curator Mary Ryan

Mary Ryan has been the curator at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum since October 2010. As curator, she leads the museum’s exhibit program, shapes the artifact collection, and connects the public to the museum’s rich subject matter. Mary has worked for 15 years as a curator, interpretive planner, and exhibit developer creating exhibitions and interpretive plans for museums and historic sites across the country. She earned her Master’s Degree in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program in Cooperstown, New York, and completed her undergraduate training in science and anthropology at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.

WATM: How did you decide to become a curator and a steward of our Nation’s history?

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Screen capture from YouTube

I discovered the museum field at a crossroads in my life, shortly after deciding not to attend medical school. I was immediately drawn to curatorial work — it’s intellectually challenging, always interesting and artifacts and exhibits have such power to tell meaningful stories. After completing a museum internship with an excellent mentor, I earned my graduate degree in history museum studies in 2008 and have worked as a curatorial and exhibit developer ever since.

When I joined the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum staff as curator in 2010, I didn’t know how much I would come to love the subject matter — the history, science, innovation and human ingenuity of the undersea communities is fascinating. I’ve met the most incredible people working here. It’s a privilege to do this job and serve these communities.

WATM: The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum was closed for COVID; what can attendees expect on their tour as it reopens?

We’re thrilled to share we reopened on May 24! We are excited to welcome visitors back to the museum. Initially, our open hours will be 10 AM to 4 PM on Monday, Wednesday through Friday, with weekend hours to resume as state and federal guidelines continue to expand.

Because the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff is our top priority, we have implemented extra safety measures at the museum. We will be using a reservation system to ensure capacity stays within state guidelines (visitors can make a reservation here), disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces and limiting group sizes to 10 or fewer people. And for the short term, our exhibit interactives have been converted into touchless experiences. As always, there are no admission or parking fees to visit!

WATM: What virtual content do you have available?

We have a mix of virtual content for different ages and interests! We post social media content several times a week on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts — lots of “this day in history” posts, sailor profiles, artifact features, STEM activities, behind the scenes content. In the past five years, our virtual community has grown to more than 20,000 people across our platforms. 

Our virtual 3D tour lets anyone explore our exhibit galleries from any location. Having a virtual tour became an invaluable resource while we were closed during the pandemic. Now that we’re reopening, it makes the museum accessible to many people who can’t visit us in person. A handful of our artifacts have been turned into highly detailed, interactive 3D models by The Arc/k Project, and more than 500 artifacts are digitized on our Flickr page.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Master Diver Carl Brashear (via the museum’s Flickr)

And of course, our website is full of virtual content! Users can explore our online exhibit offerings, including our newest exhibit about Master Diver Carl Brashear, whose story was made famous by the movie Men of Honor. For families, our educator has created an extensive series of at-home STEM activities using common household objects. And for a look inside our artifact collection, users can visit our featured artifacts page to learn more about highlights from the collection.

WATM: What are some upcoming virtual events readers shouldn’t miss out on?

This past February we staged our biggest education program of the year, Discover E Day, entirely online. Following up on that success, our educator has teamed up with several local Navy groups to offer two virtual Navy STEM summer camp sessions July 13–15 and August 10–12. Families of local kids who will be in grades 3–8 this fall can email psns_kypt_stem.fct@navy.mil for more information or to register; it’s free and all learning will happen via Zoom.

I would definitely encourage readers to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — we’re most active there and always posting new content! Keep an eye on our website, too, as we’re developing a new online collections page that will share digitized documents and finding aid for archival collections.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
A photo from 2020’s “Discover E” Day (via the museum’s Flickr)

WATM: How can the public support the museum on its mission?

Our mission is to connect people to the U.S. naval undersea experience. Anyone who engages with our subject matter by learning about naval undersea history, technology, operations and people — whether through us or on their own — is supporting our mission.

As a federal organization, the museum is supported by a non-profit foundation that raises funds for education programs, new exhibits and artifact care and conservation. Their support allows us to take on projects that aren’t or can’t be funded by federal funding. Members of the public can support the museum by making a donation or becoming a foundation member.

We are lucky to have wonderful public support from the local community. Our volunteer corps includes more than 50 veterans, retired Navy civilians and community members that give generously of their time and expertise. Their contributions are almost immeasurable, and include greeting visitors, giving tours, operating the museum store, working with artifacts, supporting education programs and helping to build and install exhibits. Locals who are interested in joining our volunteer corps can learn more here.

WATM: Do you have anything you would like to say to the veteran and military audience?

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Retired Master Chief Machinist Mate Harry Gilger, one of many veterans volunteering at the museum (image courtesy of navalunderseamuseum.org)

Sharing the stories of undersea Navy veterans is an essential aspect of our work! There’s a lot we can’t say as a Navy organization because it’s not publicly cleared, but that just means we work harder to amplify the stories we can share.

We meet so many veterans at the museum and it’s an honor to be a place they can reminisce or show their families more about what they did in the Navy. To all the veterans out there, please come say “hi” if you visit the museum! Many of the volunteers who staff our lobby are veterans themselves. And if there is any way we can be of assistance, please reach out anytime!

WATM: What is next for you and the museum?

Every summer we host a popular education program called Summer STEAM, which offers hands-on science, technology, engineering, art and math activities for kids. Summer STEAM will be back this July and August with a twist: this year families can pick up activity kits to take home! Our educators and volunteers have been hard at work assembling kits to make this possible.

And coming next spring, we’ll open a new temporary exhibit called “Giving Voice to the Silent Service.” It’s an inside look at the strong collective identity that submariners share. While it centers on the submarine community, many of the ideas will resonate with anyone who served. This was one of the most interesting and fun exhibits I have ever developed and I can’t wait to see it come to life in our exhibit galleries!

Readers can follow future developments at our website, www.navalunderseamuseum.org.


Feature image: photo courtesy of navalunderseamuseum.org

TRAVEL

Why the Brazilian Navy keeps going to an island filled with deadly snakes

Just 21 miles off the idyllic coast of Brazil sits Ilha da Queimada Grande, also known as “Snake Island.” It’s said that on every two steps of this 110-acre island is a golden lancehead, the deadliest snake in the world. Years of isolation on a bird migration path required that these snakes adapt an extremely quick-acting and lethal venom. With no predators or competition, the snakes have been left to enhance their camouflage, their venom, and their insane jump.


For centuries, humans have tried to go to the island only to die soon thereafter. Everyone, from pirates to adventurers to zoologists, has tried and all have failed — except the Brazilian Navy.

 

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’

Come for the view! Stay because you’re dead! But seriously, don’t go there. (Image via Flickr)

According to local legend, in 1909, a lighthouse keeper and his family were assigned as stewards of this island to warn sailors of its dangers. Shortly after the lighthouse’s construction, the family was killed by the snakes. The lighthouse has since been made automatic and only requires yearly maintenance.

So, each year, the Brazilian Navy must travel to the island to replace the bulb, change the batteries, and watch over the scientists who need to make a serum from the venom. With the dedication and keen skill of the medical staff on board, there have been no deaths from a golden lancehead bite on these expeditions to date.

You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Did I mention these things are every two steps? (Image via the Brazilian Navy)

There are no docks or paths on the island, so Brazilian sailors must first land on the only rocky coastline and hand-carry their gear through unforgiving terrain. Every step they take could alarm a snake that can liquefy their insides in mere seconds. To make matters worse, exotic animal poachers leave traps all across the island since a single golden lancehead scores them $30,000 on the black market.

In 2014, reporters from VICE and researchers from the Buntantan Institute, one of the world’s leaders in anti-venom biopharmaceuticals, were allowed to travel with the Brazilian Navy. Check out the video below:

(VICE | YouTube)

Articles

AARP Guide to 10 military museums and historic locations across the US

There’s no better place to learn about and remember the service of fellow soldiers and Veterans than at one of the many memorials, military museums and other historic locations found across the United States. AARP has developed comprehensive guides to 10 key sites from Pearl Harbor to Boston.

These sites offer visitors thoughtful, moving portrayals of the sacrifices Veterans made throughout American history. Be sure to take a look before you plan your next trip to one of these great destinations.

  1. The National World War II Museum in New Orleans: From the Pearl Harbor attack to victories in Europe and Japan, learn about the triumphs and tragedies of WWII at this expansive (and expanding) Big Easy museum.
You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
Artillery and a “Higgins Boat” on display in the museum lobby (Wikimedia Commons)
  1. Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor National Memorial: See the site of the history-changing Dec. 7, 1941, attack that killed 1,177 sailors and Marines and spurred the U.S. to enter the Second World War.
  1. The National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City: Reflect on the triumphs and many tragedies of the Great War at this moving, must-visit, Midwest museum.
  1. Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston: Climb aboard the enormous aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, a participant in more than 40 World War II battles, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, across the harbor from Charleston.
You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
 the USS Yorktown (CVS-10) as she sits at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (USA) in March 2011. (Wikimedia Commons)
  1. Civil War Heroes on Boston’s Black Heritage Trail: The bronze Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Civil War Memorial honoring African American soldiers is a stirring stop in a history-packed city.
  1. Vicksburg National Military Park: Take a long, deep dive into the Civil War at this massive Mississippi site where key battles helped change the course of America’s deadliest fight.
  1. Gettysburg National Military Park: Follow AARP’s guide to Pennsylvania’s famous battlefields, where a major Union triumph changed the course of the Civil War.
You can boldly go with this NASA mission to ‘touch the sun’
(Wikimedia Commons)
  1. Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution: Learn how the colonists reached a breaking point, fought for independence and won the battle at one of Philly’s top destinations.
  1. The San Diego Air & Space Museum Is a bucket-list stop for aviation buffs: See how American warplanes progressed from motorized kites to supercharged bombers with Rolls Royce engines at this Smithsonian-affiliated gem in beautiful Balboa Park in California.

10. Explore Revolutionary War History in charming Castine, Maine: Explore the historical sites tucked away in this charming New England village that dates back to pre-Revolutionary America and the Civil War.

For the latest news and information impacting older Veterans, bookmark the Veterans, Military and Their Families page on AARP.org.

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