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Sunday, February 5, 2017

If Earth's Orbit Is So Crowded, Why Don't We See Space Junk In Photos Of The Earth?, by Mary Beth Griggs, Popular Science

No, it’s not some massive conspiracy, and yes, the space above our planet is getting increasingly and worryingly crowded with satellites and space junk. It’s just that humans and the things we build are tiny compared to the vastness of our planet. There are about 4,256 human-made satellites orbiting the Earth, of which about 1,149 are still working. Most of these are fairly small, ranging from tiny CubeSats that are only four inches on each side to communications satellites that can be over 100 feet long.

That’s still tiny when you consider that the Earth is 7,917.5 miles across.

With A Photographer's Eye, A French Cartoonist Interrogates Truth, by Etelka Lehoczky, NPR

Photography has lost some of its authority in recent years — as a discipline, at least. Its specialized mysteries have been torn away from their magical light boxes and poured through the irises of millions of plastic cellphones. But it still leaves an irrevocable signature on those artists who take it seriously — like, for instance, Belgian comics creator Dominique Goblet. Her approach is postmodern, with a scruffy, anything-goes mix of styles and moods, but it's marked everywhere by her forays into photography. She's fascinated by the same aesthetic conundrum that has captivated photographers throughout the medium's history: Can a photograph tell a lie? Can it ever not tell one?

A Spacefarer's Next Great Adventure Begins At 'Home', by Amal El-Mohtar, NPR

It's difficult to write this review in the midst of everything that's happening: difficult to write of a future in which people of color move unfettered through the stars, befriend aliens, make peace between warring factions. Right now, the fantasy in the Binti novellas, the fiction, isn't the jellyfish-aliens, the magical math or strange artifacts, but the ease with which travel is allowed black and brown people between planets, nations, lives. As futuristic as these books are, every passing day makes them feel farther away. But I cling all the same to what they believe in: love between family members who want different things of each other and the world; communication winning out between warring parties; change enabling friendship and discovery. What Home says, ultimately, is that travelling the galaxy is relatively easy compared to understanding ourselves and each other — and that this is crucial, necessary work.