This is beautiful....you can tell she really enjoyed being on the shuttle....
Feb. 3- On Friday, the day before the space shuttle Columbia was to land in Florida, mission specialist Laurel Clark sent an e-mail to friends and family describing the awe-inspiring views of Earth from orbit. Here is the full text of her message:
'Whenever I do get to look out, it is glorious. Even the stars have a special brightness.'
-- LAUREL CLARK
In email sent Friday
HELLO FROM ABOVE our magnificent planet Earth. The perspective is truly awe-inspiring. This is a terrific mission and we are very busy doing science round the clock. Just getting a moment to type e-mail is precious so this will be short, and distributed to many who I know and love.
I have seen some incredible sights: lightning spreading over the Pacific, the Aurora Australis lighting up the entire visible horizon with the cityglow of Australia below, the crescent moon setting over the limb of the Earth, the vast plains of Africa and the dunes on Cape Horn, rivers breaking through tall mountain passes, the scars of humanity, the continuous line of life extending from North America, through Central America and into South America, a crescent moon setting over the limb of our blue planet. Mount Fuji looks life a small bump from up here, but it does stand out as a very distinct landmark.
Magically, the very first day we flew over Lake Michigan and I saw Wind Point (Wis.) clearly. Haven't been so lucky since. Every orbit we go over a slightly different part of the Earth. Of course, much of the time I'm working back in Spacehab and don't see any of it. Whenever I do get to look out, it is glorious. Even the stars have a special brightness.
I have seen my 'friend' Orion several times. Taking photos of the earth is a real challenge, but a steep learning curve. I think I have finally gotten some beautiful shots the last 2 days. Keeping my fingers crossed that they're in sharp focus.
My near vision has gotten a little worse up here so you may have seen pics/video of me wearing glasses. I feel blessed to be here representing our country and carrying out the research of scientists around the world. All of the experiments have accomplished most of their goals despite the inevitable hiccups that occur when such a complicated undertaking is undertaken. Some experiments have even done extra science. A few are finished and one is just getting started today.
The food is great and I am feeling very comfortable in this new, totally different environment. It still takes a while to eat as gravity doesn't help pull food down your esophagus. It is also a constant challenge to stay adequately hydrated. Since our body fluids are shifted toward our heads our sense of thirst is almost nonexistent.
Thanks to many of you who have supported me and my adventures throughout the years. This was definitely one to beat all. I hope you could feel the positive energy that beamed to the whole planet as we glided over our shared planet.
Love to all, Laurel
Feb 6, '03
wow is all i can say. amazing last words.
Feb 6, '03
I'm sure it's wrong to be jealous of a dead woman, but I envy her that experience nonetheless. My boss took me and several colleagues to lunch yesterday and the question came up, "Given the opportunity, would you ever be an astronaut?" My boss and one colleague said no---not so much because of the danger, but because of the "boredom" of being in space for so long and the inconvenience of not being able to shower, etc. My other colleague and I both said "yes" without an instant's pause. How could you not want such an incredible and unique experience? In spite of the Challenger and Columbia tragedies, I would absolutely consider space travel worth the risk for myself.
Thanks for sharing the letter. How wonderful to have someone up there who could not only fully appreciate the enormity of the experience but could also articulate and share it with others. Will be passing this along.
Feb 6, '03
Someone emailed me this yesterday. I'm sure she was so excited to see WI and all of the other amazing things. There have been some great stories about her life in WI newspapers this week. If I have time, I will share them with you.
Must Read Topics