Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, May 03, 2015

La Donna Delle Stelle"

"In only 140 characters [Twitter feed] she's able to represent, to explain in a simple way, the results of very important research."
Francesco Corfaro, Italian mission in Ottawa

"Most of the time we would be spinning! [On two-day flight to the International Space Station.] In fact when there are no dynamic operations [example: no need to fire the thrusters or the main engine], the Soyuz is put in gyroscopic stabilization with the solar panels pointed at the sun to maximize power generation."
"It's actually not the greatest things for the crew; any space sickness you're experiencing, the spinning is guaranteed to make it worse [or to give you symptoms, if you didn't have any]. But unless you actively stabilize the altitude with thrusters, the only way to keep a stable orientation is to rotate on an axis."
"I find [the Canadarm2] an object of intrinsic beauty, I'll confess. But it's of course intended as a tool of visualization and as an aid in the extensive brain gymnastics to come: mentally flipping camera images, predicting how the arm movement will look from different points of view, identifying the best camera combination to monitor clearances from structure, determining hand controller inputs in different co-ordinate frames, visualizing joint movements -- these are some of the tasks that are sure to keep your brain on its toes as you fly the arm."
Samantha Cristoforetti, Italian astronaut, on board the International Space Station, Space-to-you
Samantha Cristoforetti snaps photos of the Earth from orbit aboard the ISS.
Samantha Cristoforetti snaps photos of the Earth from orbit aboard the ISS.

She will speak of her fascination with space and space travel, her scientific and engineering interests to anyone who is interested in five languages, take your pick. She is a gifted scientist and a science popularizer. Two years in the United States, once as a high-schooler, the second year at a Texas Air Force base. She received her master's in engineering from Technische Universitat Munich. Four months of that degree were spent in France. And ten months of research at the Mendeleev University of Chemical Technology in Russia. She's practising Chinese, now as well.

To say that this 38 year old woman is accomplished is to understate the obvious. Apart from the distinction of being Italy's first woman in space, her academic degrees launched her into quite the career. She has experience as a fighter pilot, as a flight engineer, a scuba diver, and she is a bibliophile. Oh, and as a woman whose career trajectory has taken her where few have gone before, she is an obvious role model for young women who impatiently shunt aside compliments on their physical beauty, to focus on aspirations of rare accomplishment.

How many young woman of spectacular ambition, talent and beauty are capable of sending messages such as this one? Embedded image permalinkGood night from #space. Buona notte dallo spazio.

Over two thousand of the photographs she has taken on this trip have been posted on flickr. She shoots both videos and stills, showcasing the northern lights, and landscapes of the Earth from distances and angles unique indeed from Space.  She teaches, while orbiting Earth, a formal physics lesson on gravitational pull on orbiting objects, with equations and floating baseballs, just to make the lesson all the more appealing and approachable to the ordinary mind.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield may have initiated a popular connection with the viewing public excited about space travel, inviting them into his temporary space-travel world while orbiting Earth, explaining the inexplicable [to most people], with a common touch, and giving his avid fans a view of what he himself treasured while in deep, dark space. And now, this extraordinary woman is doing the very same thing, entertaining and informing the public, casually and appealingly.

She, along with the other astronauts that team up in an international experience of ongoing exploration and experiments greets a sunrise and a sunset every 92 minutes, throughout the course of their "day" in Space. And each time she settles down for a well-earned rest from her duties and her communications, she sends the same message: "Good night from #space. Buona notte dallo spazio."

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