Ed Stone, former director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and scientist on the long-running Voyager mission, got a surprise at the end of his appearance on the Colbert Report this week.
Stone was a guest on the show Tuesday night and chatted with host Stephen Colbert about the La Cañada Flintridge facility and Voyager 1's achievement of reaching interstellar space.
And the end of the show, Colbert floated onto stage wearing a silver spacesuit and presented Stone with a NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. The award is the agency's highest honor for non-government employees.
Although Stone has received numerous accolades while working on the Voyager mission since 1972, he said the award was unexpected.
"I certainly didn't expect the host to hand me an award," Stone said in a statement. "That surprise on my face was real."
Stone is currently a professor at Caltech, which manages JPL for NASA. He served as the director of JPL from 1991 to 2001.
In September, scientists confirmed that Voyager 1 had left a bubble that surrounds our solar system and entered interstellar space in 2012.
During the interview, Colbert asked Stone about the significance of Voyager 1's milestone.
"How come there are no parades?" Colbert asked."Is this as significant as Columbus discovering America? Are we going to get a day off and a mattress sale?"
"Well, we should," Stone joked. "No, this really is a first step for our human journey beyond Earth and beyond in fact the planets and into interstellar space."
-- Tiffany Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org