This blog will keep you informed about the "outer space" series:
13 February, 2017
Photo- and video shooting in Iceland
Michael Najjar and his team have just returned from a three week photo- and video shooting in Iceland. The spectacular footage they shot forms the raw material for new artworks on terraforming and climate change. Terraforming is the process whereby a hostile environment, i.e. a planet that is too cold, too hot, or has an unbreathable atmosphere, is altered to make it suitable for human life. This could involve modifying its temperature, atmosphere, surface topography, and ecology. The artificial creation of a sustainable ecosystem on a lifeless planet like Mars is a fascinating vision that might one day guarantee our survival as a species.
The new artworks will be presented for the first time at the upcoming exhibition "Planetary Echoes" at the Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung Berlin in April this year. In 1938 German photographer and filmmaker Alfred Ehrhardt undertook a two-month photo and film expedition across Iceland. This adventurous journey led him into untouched "primal landscape" shaped by glaciers and volcanoes, where he hoped to gain insights into the origins of the Earth. Accompanied by Dieter Jaufmann, Michael Najjar filmed and photographed many of the same locations that Alfred Ehrhardt visited almost a century ago. Ehrhardt’s goal of discovering the Earth´s origins is paired to the most existential question of the 21st century: saving the Earth’s future.
Production company: Pegasus Pictures, Reykjavik
Pegasus organisation: Bryn Birgisdóttir
Video camera operator: Dieter Jaufmann
Mountain guide: Stefan Mantler
Technical support: Hasselblad, DRS Berlin
12 January, 2017
Michael portrays future Mars robot „Valkyrie“ at Edinburgh Centre for Robotics
In December 2016 Michael visited Edinburgh Centre for Robotics to take pictures of „Valkyrie“, the next generation of human robots. Developed by NASA-JSC Valkyrie is one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world. The robot was constructed in 2015 and delivered to the University of Edinburgh in Spring 2016 for further testing and research. According to NASA, we should see the first humans landing on Mars by 2033. Along this journey, the space agency is planning to send robots first to prepare the later landing of human astronauts. The idea behind this collaboration with the Edinburgh Center for Robotics is to extend the autonomy of these robots to send them, or their descendants, in hostile environments such as Mars. The UK research team is lead by Prof. Sethu Vijayakumar.
Weighing 125 kg and standing 1.8m tall, Valkyrie will enable breakthroughs in humanoid control, motion planning and perception. The robot could help the space agency with the colonization of Mars by helping to construct a habitat for future human space explorers. The delay of communication between the Earth and the Red Planet prevent humans to remotely control robots on Mars’ surface; robots that will be needed to build structures, habitats, do common work or even scientific tasks. This delay between these two planets, which can be from 3 to 21 minutes in a one-way transmission, basically removes the possibility of remote control. If the project is successful, Valkyrie could receive general instructions and choose how to organize work time and which tool to use to fulfill various instructions. Valkyrie is also equipped with a Multisense SL Camera and LIDAR array to track its surroundings easily. Advancements in artificial intelligence and faster computers will certainly help Valkyrie perform such tasks. Humans will certainly need robots to help discover and explore planets throughout our galaxy.
Michael takes pictures of Arianespace VA233 milestone mission
On 17 November 2016 at 10.06 am Ariane 5 VA233 blasted off into space from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana. With this milestone mission Arianespace placed four more satellites for the Galileo constellation in orbit.
Galileo, an iconic project for Europe, is a new civil global satellite navigation system. Under civilian control, it will offer a guaranteed, high-precision positioning service and will end Europe’s dependence on the American GPS system. The program is funded and owned by the European Union, with overall responsibility for management and implementation held by the European Commission. To date, 14 Galileo satellites have been orbited by Arianespace Soyuz launchers on seven missions from French Guiana. With the inaugural Ariane 5 launch, this number was increased to 18. When complete, the Galileo system will consist of 24 operational satellites, along with the ground infrastructure for the provision of positioning, navigation and timing services.
Michael wants to thank Arianespace for their great support and photo permission. Special thanks also to Hasselblad for the technical support which made it possible to portray this historic mission in a very unique way.
12 October, 2016
Michael Najjar is one of the few Hasselblad Ambassadors worldwide.
There are few achievements in the history of man that rival our explorations into space. And few images as unifying, moving, and widely recognized as those photographs taken during these journeys. Photos that have changed the way we see our world and ourselves. Few would deny that the now over four decades of space photography have given us a new worldview. No, the basic laws of science have not changed as a result of these images; no, the ideas of Kepler, Newton, and Einstein have not been eclipsed by photos from beyond our planet. However these pictures from space have added new dimensions to our understanding of this, our own small section of the Milky Way. They have changed the way we view the universe and our part in it. They have made us feel small, made us feel large, and made us feel bound to one another as humans. 12 Hasselblad cameras have been on the moon and many others in space.
Michael visits the new SpaceShipTwo at SpaceShipCompany in the Mojave desert.
Michael is a Virgin Galactic Pioneer Astronaut since 2011 and plans to travel into space with Richard Branson´s SpaceShipTwo in the near future. The spaceship vehicles are designed to carry two pilots and six passengers on launches into suborbital space. On 31 October 2014 (Michael´s Birthday) during a test flight, VSS Enterprise, the first SpaceShipTwo craft, broke up in flight and crashed in the Mojave desert. A preliminary investigation suggested the feathering system, the craft's descent device, deployed too early.
After more than one year of intensive work by the VG team the second SpaceShipTwo spacecraft, VSS Unity, was unveiled on 19 February 2016. The vehicle is currently undergoing ground and air system integration testing. Michael was given the opportunity to visit the SpaceShipCompany factory located in the Mojave desert and also talk to the engineers about their work.