Next Stop: Mars with Mae Jemison

by Summer Ash

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mae Jemison in person as part of a celebration of National Geographic's upcoming special on Mars (part documentary, part drama). Dr. Jemison was a science advisor on the project and helped the team to accurately portray astronaut behavior in crisis as well as how the bunks of the spacecraft should be designed. And she would know, having flown on the Space Shuttle as a Mission Specialist for STS-47.  

After a panel discussion to open the day, I was fortunate enough have Dr. Jemison all to myself for almost half and hour! Knowing I would have this amazing opportunity, I came prepared thanks to Celine...

In addition to personally wearing one of Slow Factory's Women Who Inspire scarves featuring Dr. Jemison along with fellow astronaut, Jan Davis, Celine gave me the scarf of Dr. Jemison alone to present to her in person. So before my time with her was up, I showed her the full design on the scarf I was wearing and told her all about the Women Who Inspire collection. She was amazed such a thing even existed. To her surprise, I then gave her the second scarf and needless to say, she loved both. I managed to get this photo of both of us rocking our scarves in celebration of women everywhere. 

The day ended with a screening of the first episode of the MARS miniseries so clearly I had to represent the red planet with some more Slow Factory

If you don't know Dr. Jemison's work already, I highly recommend reading up on her. A former dancer, she entered college at age 16 and finished medical school by age 25. She then did a stint in the Peace Corps before going on to become the first African American women in space (such a slacker!). One of her current projects it the 100 Year Starship which aims to make interstellar travel a reality in the next 100 years by "including the broadest swath of people and human experience in understanding, shaping and implementing this global aspiration."

National Geographic's MARS airs nationwide on Monday, November 14th. You can already stream the first episode online and there are three more to come. It's a stunning mix of science and narrative jumping between the present in 2016 and the future first crewed mission to Mars in 2033. It will inspire the hell out of you. 

Summer Ash is the Director of Outreach for Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy. Having been both a rocket scientist and a radio astronomer, she’s now harnessing her powers for science communication. She is the "In-House Astrophysicist" for The Rachel Maddow Show and has written for The AtlanticScientific American, Slate, and Nautilus Magazine. She tweets as@Summer_Ash and is also one-half of Startorialist.

Filed under: astronaut astronauts awe event feminism going to space inspiration mae jemison mars national geographic nyc scarf scarves science space who wears slow factory women who inspire

The Story Behind Slow Factory

by Celine Semaan Vernon

 

I come from a land of chaos: Beirut, Lebanon. Ever since I was a child, we moved around, traveling from Beirut to Paris to Montreal. Throughout it all, the stars always guided our travels and imagining space became a way to ground me. Because while I never had a traditional definition of home, I always felt comforted by the constant presence of the stars.


That’s why I started Slow Factory. I learned a lot from working with the open-knowledge, open-source movement and how it allowed people to connect to one another. Inspired by NASA’s publicly-available satellite images and by collaborating with other artists, our nebula and supernova collections were created to be a reminder of how we can find beauty and connection in the cosmos.


Now that I’ve made a home in New York, the bright city lights make it harder to see the stars. But if I can help people feel a little more connected with our cosmic silk prints, I will be happy knowing that I’ve made a small impact in a really big way.


- Celine Vernon, founder of Slow Factory

Filed under: astronaut beirut connected connection earth journey love magic mother-ship earth power refugees space story strength struggle survival travel