ISS: Invading space.

Space Invaders Invade Space!

Space Invaders Invade Space!

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
March 17 2015 11:45 AM

Space Invaders Invade Space!

I’m not trying to give away my age or anything here, but I remember seeing my first Space Invader console. At the time, the best you could do at home was playing Pong or some variant of it that involved a couple of dots and a line moving around on your screen, and believe me, it was the coolest thing we’d ever seen.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

One day I was at a sci-fi convention (Disclave? Balticon? One of those) and saw a crowd of people in the dealer room. I walked over and saw them clustered around a standup console, and it was thumping ominously. I couldn’t see the screen, but the thumping got faster, and the people were cheering and clapping. What the heck …?


Once I saw the game I knew right then that everything was about to change. It was amazing. Of course, that seems like ancient history these days, but history has a way of coming back up on you … way, way up.

whump whump whump
Showing them where to go seems like a bad idea.

Photo by ESA/NASA

That is a picture of astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti holding a mosaic tile on board the International Space Station. She’s in the cupola, which has windows facing in different directions, providing the exact kind of view a space invader would have shortly before landing on our fair blue world.

The tile is part of a series done by French artist known as Invader, and they appear all over the world. And now, I suppose, above it. Cristoforetti will use it as a way to inspire young children to create art by mixing geometry and colors, which I think is a fine thing to do.

And while it was fun for me and also a way to dump a couple of hundred kilos of quarters over the years, to kids these days that experience for me is history. Maybe this is a way to teach them that, too.

Previously in Slate: