The Final Flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour

I have been fascinated by space craft and space travel since childhood. So it was a hard kick that I gave myself in 2011 when I first learned that the Space Shuttle program had been terminated. I was born in Los Angeles (and begrudgingly still live here), which is not all that far from Edwards AFB, and the shuttles often landed here when the weather was too poor to land in Florida. 30 years of opportunities that I took for granted and assumed would always be there for me. I had prepared to drive out to Edwards AFB for either Thursday’s landing or Friday’s takeoff, but was relieved to learn that I wouldn’t have to drive anywhere: Endeavour was going to be flying over my town, Long Beach, California!

Instead of getting in a car, burning carbon, and fighting hideous Friday traffic in LA, I pedaled to a local destination in a matter of minutes and joined thousands of other patriots and admirers who came to bid Endeavour adieu. The Queen Mary saw it first and let out a horn blast as the shuttle approached Long Beach from the south. The crowd then grew with excitement, applause, and cheers as Endeavour flew by and headed toward LAX just to the north. It was a riveting, powerful, and sad experience all at once. My images wouldn’t get any better from here, so I simply lowered the camera, welled up inside, and said goodbye.

You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

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Mars Resemblance to the Mojave Desert

©2012 NASA

©Michael E. Gordon

©

As soon as the first images from the Mars rover Curiosity were beamed back to earth  on August 6, comparisons to the Mojave Desert immediately began flying:

Curiosity and the Mojave Desert of Mars

Curiosity Surveys a Martian Mojave Desert

Mars Landscape Looks Similar To California’s Mojave Desert

These revelations were no surprise to NASA scientists, the U.S. Military, and others who have observed and used for decades the Mojave Desert’s similarities to other landscapes. Although I have yet to set foot on the moon or Mars, I’ve often found myself in such similarly desolate and austere locales throughout the California desert.

When I first viewed the black and white image from Curiosity – seen here at top left – I swore that I had previously seen and photographed this landscape with my own eyes. That is, not in a broad “looks-like-the-Mojave” kind of way, but right down the to the same terrain and distant land forms. I knew I had “been to Mars” before Curiosity, so I went archive digging and turned up at least one eerie similarity (seen below the NASA photo). The only evident dissimilarity of these landscapes is created by water: Given a little rain, I can visualize Martian valleys full of blooming lupine and creosote.

I’ve included one additional photo at bottom left. Mars? Mojave? How much difference there really is will likely come to be known in the weeks and months ahead.

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You are visiting the blog of fine art landscape photographer Michael E. Gordon. For additional photos and information, please visit his official website. You can also find Michael on TwitterFacebook, and Google+.