Supported by

The Atlantic Selects

What Ancient Mariners Have in Common With NASA Scientists

Nov 23, 2016 | 831 videos
Video by Aeon Video

To explore new solar systems, spacecraft employ something called “slingshotting”—essentially, using the gravitational pull of a planet or distant moon to slingshot themselves to another place. This is not unlike what ancient mariners in the Pacific did, as this short film from the science magazine Aeon explains, only they did it using currents, winds, and storms. “You can imagine these mariners as the NASA scientists of their day,” explains Geoff Manaugh. This animation was adapted from a post at BLDGBLOG, and is an Aeon original video made in collaboration with the filmmaker and animator Flora Lichtman.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

Author: Nadine Ajaka

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.