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A Voice Among the Stars: Poem by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón Will Ride to Europa on NASA Spacecraft

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U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón, who is known for work that explores the human connection to the natural world, is crafting a new poem dedicated to NASA’s Europa Clipper mission.

Her poem, to be released in the coming months, will be engraved on the Europa Clipper spacecraft. It will travel 1.8 billion miles on its path to the Jupiter system – and will be part of an upcoming NASA-led program that will invite international public participation.

The spacecraft is set to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in October 2024 and by 2030, it will be in orbit around the gas giant. It will conduct multiple flybys of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa, to gather detailed measurements and determine if the moon has conditions suitable for life. Europa is thought to contain a massive internal ocean and is considered one of the most promising habitable environments in our solar system, beyond Earth.

More information – about the new work by Limón and how the public can get involved – will be released in the coming months. The project is a special collaboration, uniting art and science, by NASA, the U.S. Poet Laureate and the Library.

Meanwhile, Europa Clipper is under construction at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and the work is broadcast live, 24-7 from JPL’s Spacecraft Assembly Facility. In addition, you can check out these other ways to learn more and to participate in the mission.

Limón, 46, was appointed 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden last year. She was born in Sonoma, California, and is of Mexican ancestry. She is the author of several poetry collections. “The Carrying” won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and “Bright Dead Things” was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Books Critics Circle Award. Her most recent is “The Hurting Kind,” published last year.

Her official position — the Library’s Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry — was created in 1937, when Archer M. Huntington endowed the Chair of Poetry at the Library. Previous laureates include Joy Harjo, Tracy K. Smith, Juan Felipe Herrera, Robert Penn Warren, Rita Dove, Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams.

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Comments (5)

  1. WOW! I look forward to hearing so much more about this starry messenger to Europa!

  2. Did I miss somethings? The title of the poem and where I can read it.

    • Hi,

      No worries, you didn’t miss anything — the poem has yet to be written. We’ll post it when it is!


  3. This wonderful news immediately made me think of the word enskyment, found in Robinson Jeffers poem, Vulture, whose last lines are

    That I was sorry to have disappointed him. To be eaten by that beak
    become part of him, to share those wings and those eyes–
    What a sublime end of one’s body, what an enskyment; what a life
    after death.

  4. Great news, how cool is this? Just “saw” Ada online at The Merwin Conservancy, probably on their website by now. Nothing quite like a poet reading their own work. Precious. Hoping there has been a widely distributed press release, too. Ada’s website will tell you where she’s appearing next, often free upon registration. Many thanks to NASA & the LOC, with appreciation.

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