Kuiper poses with a frame foam set piece on the wall. He is wearing a rocket collar.

Happy Birthday, Carl Sagan

Zoomed out view of Kuiper with framed set piece.

Kuiper honors Carl Sagan, posing with his model of the Mariner Valley on Mars.

November 9 is a very special day: it is Carl Sagan’s birthday! Behind Kuiper is a model used in the set of Sagan’s Cosmos TV show, on display at the headquarters of the Planetary Society (which Sagan founded.) This model can be seen in Cosmos episode 5, “Blues for a Red Planet,” at 29 minutes in.

HUGE thanks to @planetarysociety and @marylizbender for granting Kuiper special permission to visit their office last month. Kuiper joined the Society in 2017. As far as we can tell, he’s their first card-carrying canine member. #spaceforeveryone

Mariner Valley is named after Mariner 9 (1971.) Mariner 9 was the probe that first discovered it (and incidentally, the first spacecraft to orbit another planet.) The valley is HUGE. According to Sagan, it is “5000 km long. A little hard to miss even from Earth. The Grand Canyon of Arizona would fit into even one of its minor tributaries. Someday, we will careen through the corridors of the Valley of the Mariners.”

If you’re looking for something fun and relaxing to watch (and you already tore through the Good Place), I highly recommend the original Cosmos. The original series aired from September 28, 1980 to December 21, 1980, but you can find all 13 hour-long episodes on YouTube today. The first one is called “Shores of the Cosmic Ocean” and is a great place to start. We’ve made a lot of discoveries since 1980, but the series stands up really well. It’s a whirlwind tour through the history of our universe and human study thereof.

Carl Sagan was an amazing dude. I didn’t know very much about him when I was growing up, as I was raised in a family with some pretty unconventional views about science. After I got out of college, I got up the nerve* to read one of his books and was quickly hooked. The man had an absolutely amazing talent for making science accessible and exciting for everyone.

If I had to recommend only one of his books, right now I’d pick “Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” But! You don’t have to take MY word for it!

* this is hilarious in retrospect

Original post: https://www.instagram.com/spacewhippet/

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