Amid the flurry of non-stop news in today’s Internet-driven world, there is one area of galactic proportions that tends to get ignored by mainstream media. We read about it when an astronaut gets launched into orbit or when a Mars rover turns up unexpected footage, but apart from crowning achievements, historical advances and asteroids narrowly missing a collision with Earth, you’d hardly think there was much to report about outer space activity based on an average day’s stories about Trump’s Cabinet picks, Trudeau’s posturing and the inhumanity of humanity.
My perspective has dramatically shifted ever since, out of the blue, space-related headlines began popping up from my desktop’s taskbar offering links to a variety of websites all dedicated to the final frontier. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what app or widget it is that I unintentionally downloaded which is providing me with these interesting little nuggets of news (and if anyone knows, I’d like to hear from you), but in just a matter of weeks, I’ve come to realize that there is a whole lot more going on beyond our atmosphere than most people would care to guess.
One article that caught my attention was about a fascinating new image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of the galaxy NGC 4696, located about 150 million light years away. Unlike the swirling arms of our own very ordinary spiral Milky Way galaxy, this one looks like an elongated tangle of thread-like filaments stretching out of a shimmering bright core. Soon after, I was intrigued by the launching of a Japanese cargo ship toward the International Space Station loaded up with more than 4.5 tons of water, spare parts, gear for science experiments and other supplies. If all goes according to plan, astronauts will have to grapple with the cargo ship using the space station’s orbiting lab’s huge robotic arm. The week before, the launch of a Russian vessel didn’t go according to plan and fell back to Earth losing more than 2.5 tons of cargo.
We’ve become so blasé about space that the thought of astronauts orbiting Earth dealing with robots in a zero gravity setting doesn’t pique the public’s interest unless aliens are involved or a man is stranded on Mars, courtesy of Hollywood. That said, it’s an area of interest definitely worth checking out on a regular basis to help keep things in perspective and realize just how far humans have come.