WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2004)—This year heralds a renewed focus on space exploration. As the world waits for scientists to unlock the secrets of the red planet, President Bush has announced a major initiative to expand the space exploration program. National Geographic magazine also turns its attention to the heavens with a new special collector’s issue, “EXPLORING SPACE: The Universe in Pictures,” on newsstands Feb. 1 to April 26.
The large-format magazine, with an introduction by astronaut John Glenn, takes readers on an incredible journey through space and space exploration, from planet Earth to galaxies millions of light-years away, and from the pioneering work of rocket scientist Robert Goddard in the 1920s and ’30s to uncovering the surprises on the surface of Mars.
Sumptuously illustrated with breathtaking photographs, the issue is divided into four chapters: “We Have Lift-off,” which deals with humans in space; “The Shoreless Cosmos,” featuring stars and galaxies; “Planetary Siblings,” focusing on our solar system; and “A World Called Home,” a view of Earth from space.
The magazine features a galaxy of space heroes — Laika the dog, who, aboard Sputnik 2, became the first living creature in orbit on Nov. 3, 1957; Yuri Gagarin, first human in space, who completed one full orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961; Alan Shepard, first American in space on May 5, 1961; Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space from June 16-19, 1963; moon walker Neil Armstrong, and many other pioneers who blazed the space trail.
The photographs are spellbinding. From the vibrant color cover image of Saturn and its rings taken by the Hubble Space Telescope to the gossamer tangles of gas and dust from a supernova to the inside of a space shuttle cockpit, the pictures show all facets of space and space exploration. Among the many striking images are supernovae, the merging of galaxies, the birth of stars and the surface of Venus. Closer to home, Hurricane Isabel is seen hurtling towards the North Carolina coast in September 2003, and a satellite image shows central Baghdad darkened by trails of smoke from fires set by Iraqi forces to obscure the capital during the advance of the U.S. Army in March 2003.
The issue also includes a time line of space firsts; a list of all 438 people who have traveled in space; and numerous interesting facts and figures, such as the busiest space ports, who has spent the most days in space, the most distant space probes, impacts and close calls by meteorites on Earth, and other space trivia.
At the special issue’s Web site, nationalgeographic.com/magazine/space, visitors can register to win a telescope; view footage of the Apollo 11 launch, hear President Nixon’s historic phone call to the astronauts and watch man’s first steps on the moon; view animation of the birth and death of stars; learn how auroras work and see them in motion; enjoy a multimedia sights-and-sounds presentation of “A Mars Never Dreamed Of” and see animation of future Mars landings; take a space trivia quiz; download desktop images, and send e-greetings.
“Exploring Space: The Universe in Pictures” will be available on newsstands, in bookstores and through the magazine’s Web site for $9.95. It is National Geographic’s seventh special collector’s issue and follows “100 Best Photographs,” “Best of America,” “100 Best Wildlife Photographs,” “National Geographic Swimsuits: 100 Years in Pictures,” “Treasures of Egypt” and “National Geographic’s 100 Best Unpublished Pictures.”