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Space nostalgia, Euro-style

1987 esa calendar small.jpg
Images from the European Orbiter on the 1987 ESA calendar. Credit: ESA

By Margaret Harris

The question of what to do with old calendars is (literally) a perennial one, but the European Space Agency has an interesting solution: post them on the web.

The agency has created an online gallery of calendars and posters depicting missions from the last 30 years. The images are drawn from archives at the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, and from a retired employee’s private collection. They include both satellite photos like the one on this calendar — which would have made a great Christmas gift back in 1986 — and artists’ impressions of missions.

It’s not clear why ESOC has chosen to post these images now. There’s no information on the website about any special exhibition, for example, and the nominal 40th-anniversary tie-in seems a little odd, given that ESOC is now 42 years old.

But whatever the excuse, leafing through the various posters is both a nice reminder of the agency’s successes and an interesting glimpse of how it has advertised itself over the years. I particularly liked the city of Darmstadt’s poster, which used a picture of a rocket to promote a week of extended shop-openings back in the 1980s. Unlike the others, it’s not an official ESA image, but I can see why they like it — it neatly captures the public’s enthusiasm for space, and the eagerness to appropriate “cool” space imagery for utterly unrelated purposes. Space-age shopping hours — whatever will they think of next?

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