Friday, April 12, 2013

The World, From a Different Angle

Over the last couple years I've become more and more fascinated by space. I wrote this post when NASA's budget cuts forced them to stop shuttle launches. I've started following Neil DeGrasse Tyson, an outspoken advocate for astrophysics, space, and NASA. And just in these last couple weeks I've started following Col. Chris Hadfield on Facebook.

Brazilian Farms

Hadfield is a Canadian astronaut serving as commander on the International Space Station. He's incredibly active when it comes to social media and has been posting pictures, making videos, and generally keeping us informed about what it's like up there in space. I first heard of him when I watched this video about how to make a sandwich in space. Zero gravity may be cool but it makes some tasks just a bit more difficult. I've seen videos on how to shave in space, how to sleep, and even how to clip one's finger nails. Each time I watch him glide effortless through the station it seems a tad unreal, but cool to know that people live like that.

London at Night

But it's the photos that he posts each day that make me glad I'm following him. They remind me how incredible the solar system and the Earth are. As the ISS orbits around the world, the views of Earth are stunning. Hadfield takes close up images of the cities he passes over, islands and fields, the aurora's spectacular beauty, or even better, the edge of the Earth. The first shot of his I saw was the aurora borealis, with the start of the dawn behind it. I was instantly hooked.

Auroras at Dawn

This man was not only seeing Earth from a unique angle; he was sharing it with us. And he always refers to people as "us". I recently sent him a message telling him how wonderful I felt his use of the word "us" was. He showed a picture of an area in Brazil and mentioned that about "3 million of us live there". As I read the word I realized he's talking about humans as one group. That we're all one people. And I can't help but wonder if the view up there has to impact his thinking that way. If it makes him inclusive of all human as an "us". It make me think of another astronaut that made a similar comment.

Mount Etna

"I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified facade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogenous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied."   --Michael Collins

Perhaps seeing our Earth from outside of it, reminds these men and women of how small and insignificant our home is. I know that both the idea of a small fragile Earth and the idea of a collective human kind was repeated in every quote I read from an astronaut. Perhaps looking at the world from a different angle is all we need to unify. And if that is the case, I'm even more appreciative of Col. Hadfield's work in sharing his images of our beautiful planet with us.

All photos taken by Col. Chris. Hadfield

1 comment:

Skem said...

Beautiful. Well done sister.