Carpe Atmospherum
May 17, 2015 10:09 AM   Subscribe

If "Carpe Diem" means, "Seize the Day" then, why does "Carpe Atmospherum," mean "Pluck the Air?"
posted by Oyéah at 10:39 AM on May 17, 2015

Because they can't print what the poor spaceship is actually thinking.
posted by moonmilk at 10:42 AM on May 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

I am all too familiar with how spaceships die. Thanks, Kerbal Space Program!
posted by barnacles at 10:56 AM on May 17, 2015 [5 favorites]

I didn't know about the spacecraft cemetery. Neat!
posted by figurant at 11:06 AM on May 17, 2015

If "Carpe Diem" means, "Seize the Day" then, why does "Carpe Atmospherum," mean "Pluck the Air?"

Carpe diem
, translated literally, would be 'pluck the day' (or 'pick the day'), but it's an aphorism taken from Horace that's been translated non-literally to better convey the meaning of the phrase in its original context.

More fully (but not completely -- it's part of a longer poem): carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero -- "pluck the day [as if it were a fruit or vegetable close to ripeness], trusting as little as possible in the next one [ie, tomorrow]." Or, (less literally) "Seize the day, trusting tomorrow as little as possible," or (similarly) "pluck the day, put no trust in the future."
posted by cjelli at 11:35 AM on May 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

If "Carpe Diem" means, "Seize the Day" then, why does "Carpe Atmospherum," mean "Pluck the Air?"

carpe is the second-person singular present active imperative of carpō

which means variously:

pluck, pick, harvest
tear off, tear out, rend
seize, utilize
criticize, blame
erode, weaken
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 11:37 AM on May 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

In the case of the Magellan craft, it seems like "rend the atmosphere" would be a way more appropriate translation than pluck.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:54 AM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

This stuff makes me imagine aliens finding a Voyager in several million years. These incomprehensible, silent objects with bizarre gold discs. It's be like, Contact except in reverse and they'd never build anything useful. Or us finding a similar object, having no clue what anything did and freaking out because what if it's a weapon or beacon?

Or aliens sending a probe to us that we, again, have no clue what the deal is with, it orbits Earth ominously for a while before crashing violently into Mt. Everest. We'd interpret it as an attack, but the aliens would just look at the puff of debris from the crash and say, "Hmm, interesting. Organic matter."
posted by cmoj at 1:49 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I guess they covered all the interesting cases, but I was expecting more talk of stuff like Originally thought to be an astroid, it's now believed to be a spent apollo stage that's in a sometimes-geocentric sometimes-heliocentric orbit.
posted by Phredward at 1:50 PM on May 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

The orbit of J002E3 is a thing of beauty.

Most of my KSP spacecraft tend to crash into the Mun at high velocity, though there was that one Minmus rover I had that exploded after traveling 30 meters/second downhill and hitting the ground.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 2:06 PM on May 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

SNAP-10A, an experimental nuclear reactor that NASA launched into space in 1965, is the most notable occupant of this region. It failed after about 43 days, and it’s now too dangerous to bring it back to the surface. It’s expected to remain in place for about 4,000 years, at which point it’ll re-enter the atmosphere. Someone leave a note for whomever’s on Earth then, yeah?
Sometimes I think the people in the 1960s may have been a bit cavalier in their attitudes about adding nuclear reactors to things.
posted by Panjandrum at 9:57 AM on May 18, 2015

They left out "salvaged by a stranded astronaut on Mars" as documented in the non-fiction book The Martian.
posted by caphector at 12:26 PM on May 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

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