A Universe of Love

by Summer Ash

February is branded as heart month by corporations, but I say we should feel the beat all year long. 

I have a complicated relationship with my heart to say the least, but if anything, it's made me realize the importance of friendship, love, and appreciating the Universe on a daily basis. So on this last day of February, and a bonus one at that, I thought I would share some of my favorite celestial symbols of love. 

The photo at the top of this post is of the surface of Mars, taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) in 2009. Launched by NASA in 2005, MRO had a two-year primary mission to study the history of water on Mars. Now almost ten years later, it continues to function, still taking data while also assisting in relaying communication from other satellites and rovers on the Red Planet. 

Our other planetary neighbor, Venus, is of course named after the goddess of love herself. Venus is practically an Earth-twin in size, but an anti-twin in everything else. This image is a composite of radar data taken by the Magellan spacecraft NASA sent to Venus in 1989. The planet itself is shrouded in thick cloud layers, but NASA was able to make this image with radio waves that penetrate the atmosphere and bounce off the planet's surface, giving us a picture of the topography. While on Venus, this dense atmosphere is toxic to life, from here on Earth, it's what allows Venus to shine so bright in our morning and evening skies - and perhaps inspire our imaginations from time to time. 

Eros is a member of the asteroid belt, orbiting the Sun in an orbit similar to Mars, sometime further and sometimes closer. Fittingly, it's a member of the Amor group of asteroids. In 2000 NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR Shoemaker) mission was the first spacecraft to visit Eros and send back high resolution images like this one. Even more incredible is the fact that NEAR Shoemaker successfully landed on the asteroid's surface at the end of its mission life in February of 2001, just over fifteen years ago today. 

Hopefully this image needs no introduction, but if Pluto hadn't captured your heart before, I hope this picture seals the deal. Less than eight months ago, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft arrived at Pluto and snapped this phenomenal image - our first ever glimpse of this distant world. The heart shaped feature (aka Sputnik Planum) became an instant symbol of our love of exploration and discovery. 

Lastly, moving out into the galaxy, I leave you with these nebulae colloquially called Heart and Soul. Located over 6,000 light years away from us, these regions of gas and dust, called nebulae, are where are stars are actively being formed (or at least they were 6,000 years ago!). This image was taken with NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) which was launched into Earth orbit in 2009. WISE uses infrared light to detect emission from dust, asteroids, brown dwarfs, stars and galaxies. It captured the glow of these striking regions, IC 1848 (aka Soul Nebula) on the right and IC 1805 (aka Heart nebula) on the left, in 2010. I think it's safe to say, it also captured my heart for now and evermore. 

I hope you'll take this opportunity to look around you and realize that love is everywhere, here on Earth and throughout the Universe, not only during "heart month" but everyday. 

Summer Ash is the Director of Outreach for Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy. Having been both a rocket scientist and a radio astronomer, she’s now harnessing her powers for science communication. She is the "In-House Astrophysicist" for The Rachel Maddow Show and has written for Scientific American, Slate, and Nautilus Magazine. She tweets as @Summer_Ash and is also one-half of Startorialist.

Filed under: allthelove asteroid asteroid belt astronomy awe cosmos Eros heart heart and soul inspiration love Mars nasa nebula pluto romance science science life soul space universe Venus

Olafur Eliasson: Imagine Yourself as an Asteroid

by Alyse Archer-Coite


Contact is Eliasson's first solo show in France since that pivotal exhibition at MAM, and only the second solo exhibition presented at the Fondation Louis Vuitton. 

"First imagine that you are an asteroid," Olafur Eliasson's voice intones purposefully. "Focus on the feeling of floating through space and try to be present in that idea." He pauses. "Now be aware of your asteroid self and at the same time the endless space around you." He continues, encouraging you, the listener, to experience the artworks as other asteroids, sliding by you as you continue on your asteroidal trajectory. "Now you have familiarized yourself with the possibility oforbiting through the exhibition," he concludes.



The exhibition revolves around two large-scale, circular installations. In the first,Map for unthought thoughts, a light source situated on the floor of the gallery illuminates a lattice structure that casts a choreography of shadows across the wall, with the viewers' bodies playing an integral role in the dynamic interplay of shadows. A mirrored wall completes the illusion of an entirely circular space. InContact's second installation viewers encounter a sloping floor, emulating a planetary curve, and a bright, golden horizon line, reminiscent of a celestial eclipse. In a transitional space set between the installations the space titled Double Infinityforms a passageway in the shape of the infinity symbol, with two portholes on either end, perhaps suggesting the looping pathways of electrons or satellites, the future and the past, or the grip of space. 

If you are in Paris, take a trip down asteroid lane...

Foundation Louis Vuitton, 8 Avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, 75116 Paris, France



Filed under: art asteroid contemporary art exploration imagine Louis Vuitton museum nasa Olufar Eliasson science space

10 ways of wraping yourself with the Universe

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Here are 21 ways to wrap your Slow Factory™ scarves around you and rock them with style!

1. Wrap it as a skirt. This look is very nice over jeans too.

2. Top Wrap: Variation (1).

3. Top Wrap: Variation (2).

4. Head wrap: 50's style. 

5. Head wrap: 70's style.

6. The dress.

7. The classy hair bun.

8. The chic pirate.

9. The cow boy look.

10. The loose neck tie.

Filed under: dignity fund how to style your scarf nadia aboulhosn NASA styling scarves

We love NASA & we think it's mutual!

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Joyce has trained for the past 35 years astronaut and cosmonaut for the human life sciences experiments that are performed on the Int’l Space Station.

These experiments cover a variety of investigations on how long-term life in zero-gravity affects the human body (changes in retina, bone density, body mass, muscle atrophy, psychological stress, blood pressure, sleep patterns, nutrition, pulmonary function, etc.) While on the ISS, the astros/cosmos supply many urine, saliva, and blood samples, and use many different medical instruments such as ultrasound, mass measuring device, gas analyzer, etc. to provide more data for the scientists. They also vary their diet, exercise, and fill out questionnaires to provide as much data as possible to the scientists on the ground.

Joyce is part of a team that figures out which crew members need to get trained on what experiments, and works with all the various organizations involved to make sure their training materials are effective, the instructors are good teachers, the training gets scheduled, the crew members learn what they need to learn, and the training gets updated based on what actually happens on-orbit. 

The overall goal is to learn how humans adapt to zero-gravity, what things need to be done to ensure that they are able to maintain their health, and how that will affect future longer-duration spaceflight.

Joyce received the Gaza by Night (where we can see Gaza taken from the International Space Station taken by astronaut Alexander Gerst who landed on Earth this week!) All the information here comes from her colleague Susan who purchased the scarf as a surprise.

I love NASA!

Filed under: NASA

As Seen From Above: What the Stars See (when we can't see the stars anymore)

by Celine Semaan Vernon

The Inspiration for our “Cities by Night” Collection

Our most recent collection of silk scarves is titled From Above: Cities by Night. These images of the USA, New York, Paris and London by night have been chosen not only for their beautiful renders of city lights as seen from space, but also to draw attention to all these lights burning so needlessly, brightly and endlessly.

Keep in mind, this is what our cities look like from above at night. We can see them from up here among the stars (in our Slow Factory satellite), but they completely obscure the vast beauty of the universe from all nearby earth-dwellers.

Other than the vast energy it takes to light our cities, suburbs and even countryside, there is a major issue of light pollution both for people and animals.

As Jake recently wrote to us, "Stray artificial light doesn't just waste energy and prevent us from seeing more stars, it also has negative effects on animals that navigate by natural light, it messes with our circadian rhythms, and it can reduce safety and security in cases of bad lighting design."

Check out The International Dark-Sky Association  and Cities at Night to learn more about the only non-profit organization fighting to preserve the night.

Another reason why I began Slow Factory is because as I have grown up, I can see less and less stars in the sky. Adding to it the fact that we traveled a lot and that I never really felt grounded or connected to a home, I felt the need to look at telescope and satellite images of the stars.

We are moving further away from feeling connected to our planet, to our world and even to one another as human beings. Slow Factory is an experiment and a way to raise awareness around these issues by celebrating science, our world and us as one.

Filed under: cities at night fashion light pollution nasa open data silk

Always Remember to Look Up.

by Celine Semaan Vernon


Take a moment to contemplate.

Dear Space Ship Earth,

We now have been roaming around you for a little more than a year. Our journey has opened our minds to something that astronauts describe as The Overview Effect. A sort of a shift in our understanding that suddenly becomes clear: we are floating in space, on a vulnerable yet strong and beautiful planet and we are in this together.

They say the main reason we went to Space was to be able to look at the Earth for the first time, this dynamic and alive place, that is glowing all the time. We needed to see it in order for us to understand it.

Recent scientific discoveries of Neutrinos from outside of our solar system are yet again a proof that the Universe is alive and moving. Another evidence that we are all interconnected. 

This is how astronauts celebrate Thanksgiving. Let us be thankful for being present and alive on one of the most beautiful planet in our Solar System.
This Radio Lab's episode is amazing, listen to it and stay amazed with the world we live in.

To get 20% Off >> Sign up to our mailing list!!





Filed under: astronauts astronomy blog post earth friendly environmentally friendly evolution fashion flying over the Earth nasa science