Author Q&A: Dlugos and Hatton Talk Awesome Space Tech
Author Q&A: Dlugos and Hatton Talk Awesome Space Tech
PUBLISHED: Thursday, October 10, 2019 by Andilynn Feddeler

Space may be the "final frontier"—but how do we learn about it, look deeper into it, and live in it? The infographics in Awesome Space Tech will rocket you through a universe of powerful telescopes, distant probes, and high-speed spacecraft. Learn more about the book and the out-of-this-world wonders within in this interview with the authors, Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton.


Q: How did you develop the idea for Awesome Space Tech?

A: We had previously written a book for Prufrock about some of the things astronomers have learned about space. We didn't dig so much there into how those facts were discovered—the spaceships and telescopes and probes, oh my—but we found those details fascinating, too. The final Awesome Space Tech concept grew from that.


Q: What fascinates you most about space technology?

A:

Jenn: I love learning about tech that is designed to help astronauts do their job and stay safe in space. For example, a space walker's spacesuit is an absolutely incredible piece of technology. It is a small wearable spacecraft that allows astronauts to work, move, and take care of their basic bodily functions while they are out in space. They can even control their motion with a small joystick. (Space Invaders, anyone?) 

Charlie: One of my favorite things to learn about is how the routes are planned for spaceships and space probes. To save fuel, which takes up precious space and weight, some craft are slung around the solar system using the gravity from various planets. Some of the far-reaching probes whiz around planets multiple times, just to careen off in the opposite direction. It's like an oversized orbital game of bumper cars.


Q: How can young astronomers learn more about space and keep up with new developments?

A: It's a great time to be interested in space. The internet provides a number of fantastic resources —like space.com, earthsky.org, and the NASA and ESA official sites, for instance—that offer news on space launches, interesting discoveries, images from telescopes and much more. NASA's Kids Club has space video games, competitions, and opportunities for students to get involved in NASA's research! 


Q: What is your favorite weird space fact?

A:

Jenn: I love facts that get you thinking about how BIG things in space are.To humans, Earth seems to be massive with its large oceans and sprawling landscapes. But the Sun makes up 99.86% of the mass of our entire solar system. That means that Earth and all of the other planets, moons, comets, asteroids, and space dust make up less than 1% of the mass of our solar system. It's mind-blowing to realize that our big blue planet is so small compared to the Sun.

Charlie: My favorite thing about space is that all of the fascinating things we see, from planets to stars to galaxies to everything there is on Earth, is just a tiny fraction of what the universe is made of. The best current guess is that “observable” matter makes up about 5% of the universe—and more than half of that is spread out impossibly thin in the huge spaces between galaxies. So everything we know is from the 2% or so of the universe we can actually get our eyes on. (I really hope we're being graded on a curve.)



Q: What do you hope kids (and adults) learn from your work?

A:

Jenn: would love for readers to think about how many different types of people are involved in the development of space technology. Engineers, astronomers, medical researchers, and many other professionals work together to create these amazing crafts and tools that are used to explore space. And students can also play a part! Citizen scientists—including students—can help with space research that may help scientists discover new space objects, which may eventually lead to exciting new space missions in the future! 

Charlie: Just trying to imagine the extremes that exist in space—the uncountable stars, the vast distances, the unfathomable past from which we detect certain signals—and knowing we discover more about them every day changes my perspective, even in day-to-day life. If readers get some of that same feeling from what we write about, that would be very cool.


Jenn Dlugos and Charlie Hatton are Boston-based science nerds who met through stand-up comedy. By day, Jenn writes science textbooks and Charlie slings data for a cancer research company. By night, they make comedy films and argue whether a quarter moon is half full or half empty.