Fragile Oasis

Connecting Space and Earth: Learn. Act. Make a Difference.
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A Poem for Saturday: One Planet is Not Enough

Last Day in Space by Don Pettit Tomorrow we light our rocket, we burn our engines and likewise, burn a hole in the sky, And thus fall to Earth. How does one spend your last day in space? Looking at Earth, a blue jewel surrounded by inky blackness, Pure Occipital Ecstasy. Unconstrained by your girth, you fly with vestigial wings. ...Keep Reading

From the Diary of a Space Zucchini: The Frontier

Tonight, Gardener and his crew will depart in their seed pod. The replacement crew is ready to carry on in their place. He is wearing his space suit undergarments. Not too stylish but functional. He gave all of us an extra long smell. His nose twitched with the slightest tickle from the leaf hairs on little Zuc. He said that ...Keep Reading

From the Diary of a Space Zucchini: Preparing for Departure

June 29, 2012 The crew is busy with their departure preparations. They are flying back and forth with bags of gear. Gardener tried on a special suit made out of tight fitting fabric. It keeps his roots and stalks from expanding when he returns to Earth’s gravity. He said things will feel real heavy for awhile.Keep Reading

A (New) Moon is Born

I saw the waning crescent moon, a small sliver of white rising above the Earth limb. It reminded me of a glowing fingernail clipping. Like a rainbow of only blue, the atmosphere on edge filled the gap between Earth and space—electrifying diaphanous beauty. Venus was there, watching. Aldebaran in Taurus was an orange dot. The ghost of Full Moon Past, ...Keep Reading

From the Diary of a Space Zucchini: Gardener's Spacesuit

June 17 Excitement is in the air. Gardener said we will soon be returning to Earth. Our part of the mission is nearly complete and the new crew will take over for us. I am a bit worried about Broccoli, Sunflower, and me. If Gardener leaves, who will take care of us? And what about little Zuc? He is now ...Keep Reading

From the Diary of a Space Zucchini: Baby on Board!

June 9 Great news! I have a baby brother sprout! Gardener just showed me baby Zuc. Yes, there's a baby onboard the International Space Station. He is strong and healthy and ready to move from the sprouter into his own aeroponic bag. While Broccoli and Sunflower are great companions, there is nothing quite like having a zucchini-to-zucchini conversation.Keep Reading

With Warm Regards

If Matisse and Van Gogh worked together to make a crew portrait, this is what it might be like: l to r: Joe Acaba, Gennady Padalka, Oleg Kononenko, Sergei Revin, André Kuipers (I was running the camera). The thermal camera I used operates in the far infrared, with wavelengths around 10 microns, which is close to body temperature. I was ...Keep Reading

Stray Light

Stray light - those nasty reflections off our Space Station windows - can ruin the aesthetics of nighttime imagery and viewing. Reflected light from our numerous control panels and computer screens is hardly noticeable until you closely inspect your pictures, typically after returning to Earth when there is no possibility for a retake. The reflections are aggravated by the design ...Keep Reading

From the Diary of a Space Zucchini: Happy Sprout Day!

April 12 We got new aeroponic bags today. They are a new design, much simpler than the old ones. One corner is cut off and then pushed inwards so it points inside the bag. This makes an opening where the water does not crawl out from capillary action. A piece of foam is placed inside to keep the sides from ...Keep Reading

From the Diary of a Space Zucchini - What Do Dragons Eat?

April 2 Oh no, we have algae root! Our plastic potting bags, being transparent, allow our roots to be soaked in light. That does not particularly bother us, but it allows for some freeloaders to make their home in the dampness of our plastic, aeroponic bags. So our planter bags are now turning green with colonies of algae. The gardener ...Keep Reading