This is a guest article by Radhika Bangar, a computer science engineering student from North Maharashtra University, Jalgaon.
Spaceflight is an inherently unnatural thing. We were evolved to succeed on this planet not above it. But the space missions and spaceflights are the proofs that human curiosity can never be stopped and has no end. But what it’s like to be above the world in real sense? Seeing the Earth from above is something more overwhelming and makes human the humblest than ever. From space, majesty of Earth can be difficult to describe. Being away from it and observing it changes the views for life, world, mankind and nature in deepest consciousness of oneself; a planetary perspective of our home. Since 1961, only 556 people had this rarefied experience. Here are some astronauts who’ll try to describe their magnificent experiences through words.
Canadian spacefarer Chris Hadfield says while orbiting Earth he felt more connected to people on the planet than ever before. Kathy Sullivan who in 1984, became first American women to perform spacewalk says, “Things that grew in me over these flights was real motivation and desire…to not just enjoy the sights and take the pictures… but to make it matter…” after retiring from NASA, Suvillan led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for over three years. She further added that Earth from above is so captivatingly beautiful that she never grew bored looking at it.
Gennady Padalka a Russian cosmonaut has logged more cumulative days in space than anyone else. Spaceflights kept him on the job for 28 years, but something even more powerful than gravity kept bringing him home. “We are genetically connected to this planet. The overriding impression I got of Earth is how robust it is. Life has managed to essentially completely cover this planet in all sorts of different places-it finds a way”, he says. There is no place like home.
Michael J. Massimino a NASA astronaut when visited the Hubble Space Telescope in year 2009 which is about 350 miles above the planet on a mission to fix the beloved eye in the sky for the last time. Hubble’s gaze is perpetually turned towards outer space, but tethered next to massive observatory. Massimino was entranced by Earth. He says, “I thought at one point, if you could be up in heaven, this is how you would see the planet. And then I dwelled on that and said, no, it’s more beautiful than that. This is what heaven must look like. I think of our planet as paradise. We are very lucky to be here.”
Samantha Cristoforetti an Italian astronaut who holds the record of second longest uninterrupted space flight by a woman, having spent 199 days on International Space Station in 2015. She says, “You’ve got this planet beneath you, and a lot of what you see, especially during the day, does not necessarily point to a human presence. If you look at it on a geological timescale, it’s almost like we are this flimsy presence, and we really have to stick together as a human family to make sure we are a permanent presence on this planet and not just this blink of an eye.”
Karen Nyberg (American mechanical engineer) in September 2013, during her second visit to the International Space Station she said, “In the future, I would like to be more of an advocate for animal conservation. Every single part of Earth reacts with every other part. It’s one thing. Every animal is important in that ecosystem. Seeing planet from above makes you realize that, and makes you want to be little more proactive in keeping it that way. If I could get every Earthling to do one circle of the Earth, I think things would run a little differently.”
Indeed it’s true that we are genetically, biologically, physically, chemically bounded to this blue marble. Earth is something which holds magnificent beauty, science and unanswered mysteries as well. We must be thankful for being blessed with this beautiful planet which nourishes us in every perspective and it is our duty to protect it.