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They Saw Earth From Space. Here’s How It Changed Them.

Even though we've all seen the pictures, only 556 people in all of history have looked at our Earth from the vantage point of space orbit and came back to tell us about it. Only 24 have seen it as a pale blue dot from lunar orbit. National Geographic talked with several of those people. Some of them expressed how limited our language is in describing how it felt.

Kathy Sullivan, who in 1984 became the first American woman to perform a space walk, returned with an abiding awe for the intricate systems that come together to make Earth an improbable oasis. “The thing that grew in me over these flights was a real motivation and desire … to not just enjoy these sights and take these pictures,” she says, “but to make it matter.”

After retiring from NASA, Sullivan led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for three years, using the robotic eyes of orbiting satellites to pursue her passion. She says Earth from above is so captivatingly beautiful, she never grew bored looking at it. “I’m not sure I’d want to be in the same room with someone who could get tired of that.”

A significant number of those who've flown in space later went into professions and projects to study, improve, and protect our Earth. Read their stories at National Geographic magazine. -via Boing Boing

(Image credit: NASA)

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