UNIVERSE: EXPLORING THE ASTRONOMICAL WORLD
Enclosed in total darkness, save for the soft outline of our own blue planet curving far below, a man in a puffy white space suit free-floats through space. The black is so deep and endless, and the earth from that vantage point so alien, that he looks positively inconsequential. He could be a bug.
The image isn’t a still from a science fiction film but a NASA photograph of Bruce Mccandless on Untethered Spacewalk taken in 1984 before the Manned Maneuvering Unit — a veritable jet pack — was discontinued due to its obvious risk. The photograph is profoundly evocative of humans’ relationship to space — our vulnerability, our willful exploration. In Universe it joins other such images of the cosmos — some just as literal, others acts of imagination — created over millennia.