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Blue Dot 175: Hidden Figures Icon Katherine Johnson Tribute And A Pale Blue Dot Remastering


In this episode, we look back in space and time to examine the life of an extraordinary pioneer of the space race and literally our place in space -- the pale blue dot image. First Dave talks to Clayton Turner, the Director of the Langley Research Center in Hampton Virginia as we examine the life of the late Katherine Johnson. 


Made famous in the book and movie, Hidden Figures, Johnson's mathematical computations paved the way to put the first Americans into space including Alan Shepard and John Glenn and the lunar missions of the Apollo Program. Johnson passed away on February 24 at the age of 101. We also visit with Katrina Young, a NASA Public Relations specialist who got to know Johnson well during her many return visits to Langley.

In the second half of the show, the Pale Blue Dot image has gotten a high tech makeover and we talk to two of the scientists intimately involved with it. 


Candice Hansen is an original member of the Voyager imaging team who had Voyager 1 turn its cameras back on the solar system for a family portrait of the planets on Valentine's Day of 1990; Kevin Gill is a software engineer who specializes in image processing who gave the original picture a high tech remastering that is truly stunning and inspirational!


Dave Schlom is the longtime host and creator of Blue Dot. From surfing to Voyager in interstellar space, rock guitar to orcas in our imperiled oceans, the topics on Blue Dot are as varied as the host’s interests and connections -- which are pretty limitless! An internationally respected space history journalist, Dave is also deeply fascinated by all aspects of the grand workings of nature’s awesome machinery on scales ranging from galactic to subatomic. And topics take in all aspects of the arts and sciences.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.