interstellar map

If you aren’t sick to death of these, for “Earth is space Australia” please consider… the ocean.

Idk why but I’m super into the idea of humans going out and exploring the galaxy and becoming well-known interstellar travelers where Google Maps now has a Google Universe page and we’ve digitally recreated entire planets so that humans who can’t or don’t want to leave Earth can explore them in VR… but we still haven’t explored more than like a quarter of the ocean floor

And like some plucky alien marine biologist from a planet where the water never gets deeper than like 2000 meters is planning to study on Earth because holy shit have you seen how much WATER they have?? And her human friend asks what she wants to study and she replies “Oh, well, I’ve heard the deepest place in your ocean is over five times deeper than it is here, I’d love to find out if anything can still survive under such pressure and so far from sunlight.” And their human friend looks at them in sort of distressed admiration - “What? Why are you looking at me like that?” - and is just like,

“Oh, things can survive alright. Freakish things from the depths of hell.” And that’s how plucky little alien sits up all the night eye getting steadily wider while their human friend shows them pictures of things like the viperfish and the pelican eel and the blue ringed octopus and oh did I mention we’ve barely explored a fraction of the ocean so like we know there used to be this prehistoric shark that grew up to 20 feet long and was one of the biggest predators of all time but honestly “used to be” is an optimistic statement because that thing could still be lurking in the depths of the ocean and we just don’t know

Alternatively, hostile alien species arrives and claims our oceans because we aren’t using them, leaves screaming within a week


NASA has selected a science mission that will measure emissions from the interstellar medium, which is the cosmic material found between stars. This data will help scientists determine the life cycle of interstellar gas in our Milky Way galaxy, witness the formation and destruction of star-forming clouds, and understand the dynamics and gas flow in the vicinity of the center of our galaxy.

The Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO) mission, led by principal investigator of the University of Arizona, Christopher Walker, will fly an ultralong-duration balloon (ULDB) carrying a telescope with carbon, oxygen and nitrogen emission line detectors. This unique combination of data will provide the spectral and spatial resolution information needed for Walker and his team to untangle the complexities of the interstellar medium, and map out large sections of the plane of our Milky Way galaxy and the nearby galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud.

“GUSTO will provide the first complete study of all phases of the stellar life cycle, from the formation of molecular clouds, through star birth and evolution, to the formation of gas clouds and the re-initiation of the cycle,” said Paul Hertz, astrophysics division director in the Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “NASA has a great history of launching observatories in the Astrophysics Explorers Program with new and unique observational capabilities. GUSTO continues that tradition.”

The mission is targeted for launch in 2021 from McMurdo, Antarctica, and is expected to stay in the air between 100 to 170 days, depending on weather conditions. It will cost approximately $40 million, including the balloon launch funding and the cost of post-launch operations and data analysis.

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, is providing the mission operations, and the balloon platform where the instruments are mounted, known as the gondola. The University of Arizona in Tucson will provide the GUSTO telescope and instrument, which will incorporate detector technologies from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Arizona State University in Tempe, and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

NASA’s Astrophysics Explorers Program requested proposals for mission of opportunity investigations in September 2014. A panel of NASA and other scientists and engineers reviewed two mission of opportunity concept studies selected from the eight proposals submitted at that time, and NASA has determined that GUSTO has the best potential for excellent science return with a feasible development plan.