This month is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing—one of humankind’s greatest achievements:
This speech assumes Michael Collins, in orbit in the command ship, would have returned alone without his comrades Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
What would have happened if we left human corpses on the moon? Would we have continued the moon program? Would we become obsessed with retrieving the bodies or let the moon be their memorial and final resting place?
To date, we have lost astronauts, but only on launch and landing, never in the depths of space where their remains would not be part of Earth. If we become a spacefaring species and continue exploring the cosmos, it is inevitable that someday the moon and other extraterrestrial locations will be places where people not only live but die. But no matter, even if the there are no humans on the moon now—dead or alive—it is forever changed since that day 45 years ago. And when we behold the orb, it differs from other heavenly bodies, because it is already part of humanity’s domain.
Ice-coated World Trade Center Tower 1, Lower Manhattan,
Golden light backdrops winter’s monochromatic canvas. Riverside Park.
Ice chokes the Hudson River, south of the George Washington Bridge.
West 44th Street, looking from 9th Avenue, Midtown.
Riverside Park, Upper West Side, Manhattan.
Images: Michael Battaglia
Now that July’s heat & humidity machine is cranking up, here’s some icy memories to help chill fellow winter-lovers while we eagerly await the milder days and cooler nights of September.
Every single satellite orbiting Earth, in a single image.
Artificial satellites, that is. And to think that on this date a mere 57 years ago there were none….
A sure sign of spring in New York City—snash. What is it? Snow + trash = snash: sort of an “isotope” of snow created when successive layers of snow and ice mix with street dirt and other unmentionable urban flotsam.
During hard winters, as layer after layer of snow falls, it melts and refreezes, encasing street detritus, including some garbage that doesn’t get picked up when sanitation trucks are converted to snowplows during snowstorms.
If the winter cold remains long enough, it eventually compresses into a dark-gray, rocklike substance by February—forming something like a trash diamonds.
When spring thaw arrives, the darkened snash melts fast, leaving behind a crusty abomination resembling glacial moraine that is largely a potpourri of soot, cigarette butts, litter and other unpleasant matter, such as that left by dog-walkers who saw when their pets relieved themselves an opportunity offered by the freshly fallen snowdrifts to cheat curbing laws. This and all such fossilized sins are exposed with the warmth of spring, which reveals such awful, amazing, stuff.
Images: Michael Battaglia
No, they’re gone. But new, bigger assholes have replaced them…
A hypothetical look at the life-forms that we might find on recently discovered exoplanets.
Kepler 62 e, an Earth-like exoplanet’s population boasts (almost) no sinners
Upon discovering this Earth-size world, astronomers happened on it just as its dominant life-form was ascending off the surface and dematerializing. They hypothesized that the inhabitants of Kepler 62 e were experiencing their version of Rapture. Close examination after the event showed only one individual left behind, establishing an astounding planet-wide righteous-to-sinner ratio of 99.99999 to 0.000001. The world now is now going through a cataclysmic breakup, although with the population on a higher plane, its preordained period of tribulation, Armageddon and Apocalypse is proving to be somewhat anticlimactic, and a bit of overkill, considering that world’s deity is wreaking all that fire and brimstone on one confused—and terrified—lapsed soul, whose only apparent mortal sin was failing to create a Facebook page.
Flora and Fauna of the Firmament is a satirical collaboration featuring illustrations by Ken Silber and captions by Michael Battaglia. Cross-posted at Quicksilber and Beige Matter.
Not to be uncool, but I just hope he wasn’t the person flying it.
World Trade Center tower, Manhattan, September 16, 2013
Image: Michael Battaglia
This is an image of the orbits of all the known Potentially Hazardous Asteroids. PHAs are at least 140 meters in size and follow within 7.5 million kilometers of Earth’s orbit. None of the more than 1,400 tracing paths around the sun here are taking a bead on our only place to live in the universe—at least for the next century. Of course, NASA is still in the process of tracking and refining the orbits of these orbs of death, so stay tuned for updates on close approaches and impact probabilities—not to mention those rogues that have yet to be discovered, along with much harder to predict comets. Have a nice day.
The Curiosity rover’s wheels trace a path from its landing site. It was spied by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s high-resolution HiRISE camera a little over a month before it had completed half a Martian year on the Red Planet (one Earth year) June 27, 2013. The two blue spots surrounded by dark area on the left is where reddish surface material was blown away by the rover’s landing jets.
HiRISE’s spy-camera resolution is apparent: The rover appears as a silver spot. Also visible are parallel lines carved by its wheel tracks, which are about three meters apart. Curiosity is exploring the Glenelg area of Gale Crater. (Bottom image cropped and contrast enhanced on Photoshop to brighten features.)
Denali National Park, Alaska, September 2011
Image: Michael Battaglia