A History of Space Science, In Ink

Science Friday listener Josh Scott is on a mission: He wants to get a pictorial history of space exploration tattooed on his arm. What missions or satellites should be included? Apollo? Hubble? Call in with your suggestions and help Scott get sleeved in space science style.

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FLATOW: Up next, time to help out a SCIENCE FRIDAY listener. A few weeks ago, I got an email from a listener, Josh Scott. The email goes like this - well, let's have Josh tell you, he's right here. Right here in the studio. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

Mr. JOSH SCOTT (Listener): Hi, Ira.

FLATOW: You want to read the email for us?

Mr. SCOTT: Yes. Hi, Ira. I'm a huge fan of your show and I've listened for many years. I wanted to send an email to ask you something you've probably never been asked before. I'm a huge space freak and wanted to be an astrophysicist. But alas, I don't think I have the focus or the mathematical prowess to make it happen. I've taken my love of space onto my body with tattoos. I have the solar system on my arm and a Saturn 5 rocket on my leg. I'm designing a new sleeve tattoo. It'll be comprised of many different satellites. And here's where the question comes in. I have chosen a few, but wanted to get your expertise about which missions are important and should be included.

FLATOW: And there you go. And you wanted - you asked me for some help. And I said let's crowd-source this out to our listeners. 1-800-989-8255, or tweet us at @scifri, @-S-C-I-F-R-I. This is SCIENCE FRIDAY from NPR.

And Josh, I'm going to start off - I have a suggestion for you because you asked me. I'll start this thing going. I think you should try - you should get the Mars rovers.

Mr. SCOTT: Okay.

FLATOW: You know, the Mars Spirit and Opportunity.

Mr. SCOTT: Yes.

FLATOW: Could you make matching cufflinks, sort of...

Mr. SCOTT: I like that idea, maybe one on each arm.

FLATOW: Let's see what you have on your arms now. What do you have? You have...

Mr. SCOTT: Here on this - on my right arm I have the solar system tattooed.

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. SCOTT: And then I...

FLATOW: Do you have Pluto in there?

(Soundbite of laugher)

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah. You know, that's always the question. People say, you know, you have to redo it or something. And I always say that it's still there.

FLATOW: It is still there.

Mr. SCOTT: It's just been reclassified.

FLATOW: It's still in our solar system. Right?

Mr. SCOTT: Exactly.

FLATOW: It just (unintelligible) and on your other arm?

Mr. SCOTT: On my other arm I have my dog's name, which happens to be Archimedes.

FLATOW: Archimedes.

Mr. SCOTT: That's right.

FLATOW: Well, he was a very famous mathematician...

Mr. SCOTT: Yes, he was.

FLATOW: ...famous bathtub experiment. Let's see if we have a we have a call already coming in. Chuck in Minneapolis. Hi, Chuck.

CHUCK (Caller): Hi, Ira. I'm a big fan of your show.

FLATOW: Thank you. Have you got a suggestion for our guest here?

CHUCK: Yes, I do. I actually was born in 1957, the year Sputnik was launched. And I have followed the American and the Soviet space programs so that I could probably tell you just about every significant flight that's ever happened. But I've sort of boiled it down to my three top.

The first one would be Apollo 7. And that would be in memorial to the three American astronauts who lost their lives on the launch pad when they were testing the Apollo spacecraft.

FLATOW: That was Apollo 1. That's Apollo 1, I thought, but it's okay.

CHUCK: Yeah. Okay.

FLATOW: But go ahead. What's your second choice? I'll give you two choices.

CHUCK: My second choice would be the Apollo-Soyuz mission, the cooperation between the United States and Russia when they met in space and did a handshake in space.

FLATOW: Oh, that's right. All right. I'm going to go to another listener because we're running out of time. What do you think of those, Josh?

Mr. SCOTT: I think they're great, but Apollo-Soyuz - I mean, I do have Apollo 5 on my - or not, sorry - Saturn 5 on my leg. So that's what launched the Apollo missions.

FLATOW: I have a tweet from BP Photographer, who says: He should get a replica of the plaques from Voyager 1 and 2.

Mr. SCOTT: I have definitely thought about that. I love those plaques and...

FLATOW: Right.

Mr. SCOTT: ...that would be a very good one.

FLATOW: And another one, the people are tweeting in is: How 'bout the Hubble Space Telescope?

Mr. SCOTT: That's definitely on my list. So I think...

FLATOW: You need a whole body.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SCOTT: Oh, there's going to be, there's going to be several. I mean, Hubble's definitely on there and Voyager, Pioneer. I just - you know, I kind of didn't want to forget any and...

FLATOW: And we - you know, there are also these other satellites - other missions that don't get much attention that are very important - like the WMAP, the microwave background.

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah, absolutely. That's one that I was thinking of as well. Like I said, I've listened to your show for many years and I remember talking about that one a lot.

FLATOW: Or many you can save room for the next telescope, the Webb Telescope. Looking forward.

Mr. SCOTT: That's - there's plenty of room, so we can always keep adding.

FLATOW: And what's going to make you decide?

Mr. SCOTT: You know, the importance of the mission is big, but you know, there's also an aesthetic too. So you don't want too many that look exactly the same, I guess.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. And are you going to put them in the hat and pull it out or could have a vote in your family or your friends or - what do you think?

Mr. SCOTT: I'll probably be more scientific than that. I'll weigh the pros and cons of each and then decide kind of where they fit.

FLATOW: Mm-hmm. And I guess, you know, you have all those choices. You could have - the Genesis would be another one.

Mr. SCOTT: That's right. Yeah. And...

FLATOW: The Cassini would take up a lot of room.

Mr. SCOTT: Yeah, actually, Cassini's on the list too. Absolutely.

FLATOW: You know, that's the last of the grand satellite...

Mr. SCOTT: It was a big one.

FLATOW: ...missions. They don't make those - like that anymore. But good luck to you.

Mr. SCOTT: Thank you very much.

FLATOW: And you'll let us know what you decide...

Mr. SCOTT: I absolutely will.

FLATOW: ...and send us a photo or something.

Mr. SCOTT: Will do, for sure.

FLATOW: And we'll paste it back on our website. Josh Scott is a software application specialist, a loyal SCIENCE FRIDAY listener. I'm glad we could be of some help to you.

Mr. SCOTT: I'm so glad you had me in.

FLATOW: All right. That's about all the time we have for today. Greg Smith, composer of theme music, with help from NPR Library, Kee Malesky. Can still participate in our truthiness tweet-a-thon. If you follow us on Twitter @scifri, you can re-tweet the post on truthy@indiana and we'll get that. It's still going to be going on all weekend. You can watch that tweet flow and blast them and do all kinds of stuff for you.

That's - and if you missed any part of our program, go over to our sciencefriday.com site. We have our video pick of the week up there. It's me driving a Leaf, a Nissan Leaf, driving around New York in it. And you can take a ride along with me, seeing what that's like. And also you can download our podcast and take - you can take SCIENCE FRIDAY with you, both the videos and the audio part. And download our iPhone app there, and still communicate with us that way.

Have a great weekend. We'll see you next week. I'm Ira Flatow in New York.

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