"Tatooine" Discovery: Five Other Times NASA Has Drafted Off Star Wars' Heat
People connected with the movie and SFX gurus Industrial Light & Magic were on the panel to discuss how the Kepler space telescope had discovered a planet with two suns. Because, you know, the non-scientist's expertise was needed to explain to the media how there was once a science-fiction film with two suns.
It wasn't the first time NASA has played the Star Wars card, and it likely won't be the last. And we just don't mean the photo ops or the tie-ins between the movie franchise and space-museum displays.
Here are five times NASA's played the Star Wars card in press releases:
5. A Saturn moon looks vaguely like the Death Star
See? See that crater?
From a release last year: "Cassini collected the data on Feb. 13, during its closest flyby of the moon, which is marked by an enormous scar called Herschel Crater and resembles the Death Star from Star Wars."
4. We'll even latch onto the prequels
A May 1999 press release was predicated entirely on how NASA technology was like that seen in the upcoming masterpiece The Phantom Menace:
Speed checked by radar
Who's directing traffic? In the 21st century, the U.S. skies could look a little bit like a scene in "Phantom Menace" where everyone seems to by flying around town. NASA's Advanced General Aviation Technology Experiment is developing the tools that could make it possible.
No Jar-Jar references, however.
Astronaut Jim Reilly, who flew three missions and has conducted eight spacewalks, said there is a symbolic tie between the lightsaber and the real-life work NASA does in space.
"There's a kind of a fine line between science fiction and reality as far as what we do and it's only just time really because a lot of what we're doing right now was science fiction when I was growing up," he said. "I think it's a neat link because it combines two space themes all at one time."