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Home on Lagrange

I first came across Lagrangian Points many years ago in Arthur C. Clarke’s novel A Fall of Moondust. It boggled my young mind, picturing satellites orbiting in seemingly static positions around the Moon! Of course, in fact they were orbiting Earth and the Moon, affected by and in balance with both gravitational sources. (This is what the best science fiction does: explore scientific concepts, even in passing, within a fictional story.)

This morning, while researching for a project I’m working on, I found myself returning to Lagrangian Points, a phenomenon beautiful in its simplicity.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines Lagrangian Point as:

Any of five points in the orbital plane of two bodies, one of which is much larger than the other, at which a third, even smaller body will remain in gravitational equilibrium. Bodies located at Lagrangian points appear stationary with respect to the larger two bodies.

The view from space

Photo of Earth from thousands of miles away

This video struck me in a profound way.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

Only a few hundred people have been in space, but they share an experience that changed them, changed how they see the world. Maybe we need to send into space more people, from every culture, every nation, so they can bring home what they've seen, what they've experienced – not the technology, but the perspective. The overview effect.

[h/t Upworthy, via Patricia Tallman.]

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