The Model Enterprise

My friend Go Thou Geekly moved recently, and before he left he gave me an amazing rocket model set. I was really excited because I knew instantly what I wanted to do with the set – build it with my dad when he came to visit. 
My dad was only in town for ten days. We spent some of the time taking care of logistic issues – just the usual life paperwork that builds up – and I had to go to work everyday. So we wanted to hang out together in the evenings as much as we could, but since I haven’t seen him in a year we didn’t want to spend that time watching movies or television. We wanted to actively hangout. 
If you’ve never built a model set with someone, I just want to say that it is a great project to embark on with a friend. I was lucky in that my dad built models when he was a kid, so he knew all kinds of awesome tricks like soaking the decals in water so that they slid off onto the model and adhered as if they’d been stamped there. 
But even if you’ve never built a model before, it’s a cool crafty project to undertake. And in the end, you’re left with a unique reminder of the time you spent with that person or, if you build it alone, that time in your life. I think I’ll always remember working on the shuttle model with my dad, taking a break to explain to him what a meme is, or for him to show me how to tape the edges of a wing so that our paint would be in a straight line. 
Here’s some progress shots of us building the space shuttle together:
Fresh out of the box – the moving pad and booster rockets
Doing a test of how everything will come together once it is painted

I was given the task of taping the model before we painted.
In this pic, we painted the portion below the yellow tape black.
In progress shot.
 The tupperware container is full of water for soaking the decals.

I was pretty proud of how clear the lines are on this wing due to my taping the edges.
There’s still some rough bits, but  it was immensely satisfying to transform a piece of
plain white plastic into a recognizable piece of the shuttle. 
The end result! The glue needed to dry before it would stand
upright on the pad, but it looked pretty spiffy. 
Go Team Moody! 


Shadows on Mars

Curiosity’s shadow on the surface of Mars

Last night I stayed up to watch Curiosity land on Mars. I celebrated with my friends online, cheering at the achievement and the future of space exploration.

It was amazing to watch the details come in slowly. First the celebration of the descent and landing, then the first photographs sent back to Earth. I was alone at home, but I felt connected to the entire world. And even though I had nothing to do with the mission, I felt the residue of hope rub off a bit.

I think of all of the years it took for the scientists to pull off this incredibly difficult mission, and how worthwhile it was not just for them, but for everyone who experienced the landing. And the project is not over – Curiosity’s just beginning to explore, to send back new information about the history of life on Mars.

Great works of art feel like shadows on Mars to me. I can instantly appreciate their arrival, with a vague notion of how difficult the years to the destination must have been. There were probably lots of tiny alterations that wound up making a major difference. And I have a secret suspicion there is some terrifically hard math involved.

One of the scientists mentioned that President Obama issued a challenge for people to journey to Mars by the 2030s. If this happens within the suggested time frame, I’ll be in my fifties when people first set foot on Mars. And of course I want it to happen much more quickly. I want tours to Mars starting yesterday.

But I know that getting there at all is an immense achievement. And landing there safely enough to be able to record the cast of your own shadow takes years of working, fine-tuning, and collaboration.

Now all I need is a source of funding.