The Beauty of Humans in Space

> “If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.” -Gus Grissom, who perished in the Apollo 1 fire.

Every once in a while, I try to look past the amazing accomplishments humanity has made in space. And here’s a great little piece by Leo Kottke for you to listen to,

Memories Are Made Of This.

Forget about walking on the Moon, sending spacecrafts to all the planets and even out of the Solar System, and instead to just focus on how beautiful some small aspect of it is.

This is the crew picture, courtesy of the ESA, from October 2003, of the International Space Station. In the center of the front row is Astronaut Pedro Duque, who kept a diary of his time in space.

Pedro is also the subject of, in my opinion, the most wonderful picture of a human being in space.

Of course, you can click for the ultra-hi-res version of this picture, but can you tell what’s going on here? Water drops in space, of course, become perfectly spherical — a plenisphere, even — in a completely zero-gravity environment. And perfect spheres have beautiful optical properties. Let’s zoom in and take a closer look.

At the distance of the camera, it inverts the image and distorts it ever so slightly, but puts it pretty much in perfect focus. It’s a beautiful combination of engineering, optics, and physics all at once, and this image captures it in a beautiful way for me.

Hope your weekend is full of things just as beautiful to you, and I’ll see you all next week!

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