Next time your parents yell about all the times you wrote on the walls of your childhood home, point to the Smithsonian and tell them how awesome graffiti is. An epic digital scanning project by the Smithsonian Institution at the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC has led to the discovery of writings by an astronaut’s hand along the interior walls of the command shuttle Columbia.
According to the Smithsonian, the scans are some of the most complex in history thanks to the sheer size of the shuttle, the materials from which it’s constructed, and the delicate nature of the object. Because of its historic standing and the fact that it has been behind plexiglass for over sixty years, the shuttle is quite delicate. The technicians and scanners basically had to bring an entire lab’s worth of equipment to the museum to scan it on site, and are using a combination of mechanical arms and more than 50 passes of laser scanning to build a scaleable 3D digital model of the spacecraft. At the end of the day, the space collection’s curator hopes it will give visitors young and old the ability to experience the exhibit in brand new ways.
Curator Dr. Allan A. Needell told the Smithsonian Magazine, “They could look at old film and pictures, but now we have an opportunity to basically present to them an experience which is visually almost identical to if you were allowed to go in and lie down on one of those seats and look around.”
In the course of these scans, the team uncovered the following markings on the interior of the craft — a space nearly untouched in the years since it was placed in the museum — and have made the images available to the public. It turns out, astronauts are quite a bit just like us. They write on the surfaces they have, make lists, decide where to store things, and count down until the end of their journey when they get home. Check out the images in the gallery below.
It will be incredibly cool to see the completed models of the spaceship hit the web once the project is complete. I hope they include these personal markings that so humanize the brave men who took the first journeys into the stars. Will you be pulling up all the models once they’re available? Tell us in the comments below!