Space Art Propelled Scientific Exploration of the Cosmos—But Its Star is Fading Fast


George Pendle | Atlas Obscura | September 2016 | 17 minutes (4,425 words)

Atlas ObscuraOur latest Exclusive is a new story by George Pendle, co-funded by Longreads Members and published by Atlas Obscura.

In a serpentine building that snakes through the Connecticut countryside, a strange meeting took place this past July. A group of four scientists from NASA, including an astronaut, a robotics expert, and the agency’s deputy administrator, conferred with some 30 painters, sculptors and poets. Adding an extra layer of mystery to proceedings was the fact that the meeting was hosted by Grace Farms, a faith-based think-tank created by an evangelical hedge-fund billionaire.

Tea was served. Thomas Pynchon may or may not have been present.

The aim of this odd confluence was to engage an “artistic response” to NASA’s journey to Mars, the space agency’s ambitious goal of putting a human on the red planet’s surface sometime in…

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