Scientists at the Smithsonian love to study extremes. From animals to space travel, we love learning about the biggest, fastest, largest, and highest. Most of us started learning quirky science facts when we were kids and our fascination never went away. That’s why we’ve introduced our new Destination Smithsonian!: Exploring Extremes: From the Ocean Floor to Outer Space for families with kids ages 9 -12. In case you need to inspire your little scientist, here are five fun facts you can share when you are visiting the National Air and Space Museum.
1. Applesauce was the first food ever eaten by an American astronaut in space. John Glenn ate the yummy snack from an aluminum tube during the Mercury mission in 1962. Today, the astronauts have a pantry-style food system on the International Space Station with foods labeled in Russian and English.
2. Astronauts orbiting Earth see up to 16 sunrises and sunsets every day- one about every 90 minutes.
3. From Earth you always look at the same side of the moon. In 1959, the Soviet Union sent a spacecraft called Luna 3 around the side of the moon that faces away from Earth and took the first photographs.
4. Astronauts’ footprints stay on the moon forever because there is no wind to blow them away. This means Neil Armstrong’s “One Small Step” is still there along with a 2-foot wide panel studded with 100 mirrors pointing at Earth: the “lunar laser ranging retroreflector array.” Apollo 11 astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong put it there on July 21, 1969, about an hour before the end of their final moonwalk. Thirty-five years later, it’s the only Apollo science experiment still running.
5. On Jupiter, there is a hurricane that was discovered in the early 17th century, and it’s still going! Since there is no land mass to slow it down, the energy continues to churn in the atmosphere, forcing the “Great Red Spot” to keep spinning for many years to come.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Check out our NEW family package Destination Smithsonian!: Exploring Extremes: From Ocean Floor to Outer Space this summer in Washington, DC!