NASA's 'AstrOlympics' Puts Athletes' Feats into Cosmic Perspective

AstrOlympics project logo
NASA's new "AstrOlympics" project puts the achievements of Olympic athletes into a more cosmic perspective. (Image credit: NASA/CXC)

Just in time for the Olympic Games in Rio, NASA has unveiled a project comparing the feats of the athletes to amazing things found in space.

The "AstrOlympics" project, which was developed by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory communications group, discusses physical connections between sports and space, including topics such as speed, distance, time, mass, rotation and pressure. 

"AstrOlympics provides brief explanations of the physical concepts and then compares examples from common everyday experiences, Olympic events and discoveries from space made with Chandra and other telescopes," Chandra team members wrote in a statement.

"For example, the speed section compares the world's fastest sprinter to a typical speed limit on a highway to how fast the debris of an exploded star moves," they added. [See Summer Olympics Cities from Space (Satellite Photos)]

AstrOlympics posters and other materials will be displayed at a number of locations in the United States, Brazil, Uruguay and other countries. 

"The Olympics are an opportunity to behold the limits of human abilities in athletics," NASA officials wrote on the AstrOlympics website, where the full set of information is available. "After all, the Olympic motto is Latin for 'faster, higher, stronger.' AstrOlympics enables us to appreciate the feats of the Olympic athletes and then venture far beyond into the outer reaches of space."

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Brazil between Aug. 5 and Aug. 21.

The Chandra X-ray Observatory launched to Earth orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia in July 1999. Seventeen years later, the telescope is still going strong, observing supernova explosions, supermassive black holes and other X-ray-producing objects and phenomena throughout the universe.

You can learn more about NASA's AstrOlympics project at its website here:

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: