5 feel good space facts to combat the post-Bluedot blues

Our photographs are edited, the campervan has been emptied, and we’ve finally snipped off our wristbands – Bluedot 2018 is officially finished, and we’ve come back down to Earth with a bit of a bump. But we’re not quite ready to say goodbye to our favourite festival, so we’ve compiled some of our favourite space facts to feel a bit better.

The last man on the moon wrote his daughters initials on the lunar surface

Eugene Cernan, along with the team of Apollo 17,  landed on the moon on December 11th 1972. The astronauts left the moon several days later on December 14th, but Cernan left more than his own footsteps. Before he took his final steps to board the module, Cernan he wrote his then 9-year-old-daughter’s initials ‘TDC’ (Teresa Dawn Cernan) on the surface – a mark in history that will still be there today, and remain long past our lives.

A dust cloud at the centre of the Milky Way (sort of) tastes like raspberries and (sort of) smells like rum

The discovery of the compound ethyl formate (C3H6O2) was an unintended finding after astronomers from the Max Plank Institute used the IRAM radio telescope in Spain to investigate a dust cloud known as Sagittarius B2. The researchers detected around 50 molecules in the survey, two of which have never been detected before, but ethyl formate stands out as it is responsible for the taste and flavour of a few things here on Earth, including raspberries and rum.

Astronauts can find Houston, and the lack of space burritos, annoying

Jack Stuster, a specialist in the psychological effects of isolation at Anacapa Sciences in Santa Barbara in California, had an unusual request for astronauts – to keep a diary during their mission. These diaries are kept anonymous but excerpts are published by Stuster. The comments from the astronauts are insightful, and sometimes funny. Our favourite entry was “No one ever told me that there are practically no tortillas onboard, even though everyone knows they are incredibly popular for eating just about anything.”

The word ‘astronaut’ means ‘star sailor’

The first recognised use of the word ‘astronaut’ in the modern way was in 1930 in Neil R. Jones short story, The Death’s Head Meteor. The word was used for some years previously and is comprised of the Greek words ‘astron’, meaning star, and ‘nautes’, meaning sailor.

Russian astronauts take a cuddly toy on rocket launches

If you have watched the capsule interior video of a Russian rocket launch you will notice, somewhere, a cuddly toy will be floating tethered to the instrument panel. For expedition 40, the most recent launch to the ISS, the toy was a giraffe. But they do more than serve as adorable mascots; they are there to indicate to the screw that the Soyuz has reached orbit. When the cuddly toy floats, they know they have reached weightlessness.

Main image credit: Photos by Jess Rose

If you haven’t yet grabbed your place at next years Bluedot festival to join in the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landings, you can join the mailing list here to be among the first to access the next release early bird tickets
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