When it comes to space exploration, many believe America must make a choice between having human "Astros" exploring the solar system or using robotic probes as planet or asteroid "Dodgers."
Above: As the Houston Astros begin the battle to bring home Space City's first-ever World Series title, Johnson Space Center has team spirit, as evidenced by this orange-and-blue tinted group photo. (NASA/Robert Markowitz)
NASA sees both approaches as essential to expanding the human presence in the universe. But that doesn't mean that two of NASA's centers can't engage in a little friendly rivalry when it comes to their hometown baseball teams competing in the 2017 World Series.
Houston is home to both the American League's Houston Astros and NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), the hub of human spaceflight, while the Los Angeles area is home to both the National League's L.A. Dodgers and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, one of the pillars of robotic space and planetary missions.
On behalf of their respective centers, JSC Director Ellen Ochoa, who actually is a native Californian, and JPL Director Michael Watkins, who actually is a University of Texas at Austin alumnus, have decided the World Series deserves to be the subject of a little bragging rights wager.
So, here's the contest: If the Houston Astros win the best-of-seven series, Watkins will have to wear an Astros jersey for a day. If the series goes the L.A. Dodgers' way, Ochoa will wear a Dodgers jersey.
"JSC is proud to be a citizen of Houston, and, as such, we are proud of all the city's accomplishments and its great spirit," Ochoa said. "And our team is actually named after our space center, so I'm happy to be able to show support for that, and glad to have a little fun in challenging a center that, except for this week, is our close partner in exploration. I am looking forward to seeing a little bit of Houston at JPL soon."
"JPLers are proud to work and live in the Los Angeles area here in beautiful Southern California," Watkins said. "We love the chance to show our support for this great city, and for the great baseball tradition of the Dodgers. This is a nice way to have a little fun with our good friends at JSC and we hope to see some Dodger blue there shortly."
Above: On Oct. 26, 2017, the day after Game 2 of the World Series, JPL baseball fans sported Dodger blue for a quick photo in mission control to show support of their hometown team. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
When it comes to the reality of spaceflight, the two centers have collaborated and compared notes on a variety of space projects for nearly half a century. NASA understands that robotic exploration has always been a precursor to human space exploration and that more and more, we see robots and humans flying together, helping each other explore. Rather than rivals, JSC and JPL are close teammates in expanding our knowledge of the universe and increasing the limits humanity explores.
But in the meantime, JSC invites all Astros fans to "Orange Out" and JPL invites all Dodgers fans to "Bleed Blue." May the best team win!
Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #OutOfThisWorldSeries and on the JSC and JPL social media accounts as the two baseball teams go head to head.