Geology & Geophysics Opinion

Earth Day Message from an Astronaut on the Space Station

NASA astronaut and geoscientist Drew Feustel reminds us: High above Earth, you see no borders; you barely see cities. You do see evidence of Earth’s raw power.

By Andrew J. Feustel

Such a beautiful view as we fly 250 miles above Earth!

On a southwest to northeast trajectory headed for Mexico, I spotted this mass of rock apparently oozing from the ocean, fighting to break above the waterline. This swell has long been asleep, having reached its goal, yet it still serves as a reminder of the dynamics of this active and alive planet that we live on. This is the island of Socorro, 400 miles off the coast of Mazatlán in Mexico.

From our vantage point on the International Space Station (ISS), the geology and tectonics are all so clear, and clearly complex. Entire mountain ranges come into view, and volcanoes and impact craters are obvious at first glance.

We have a rare perspective to see the Earth as an entire globe, floating freely in space. There are no borders, and we can barely see large cities without looking closely with the naked eye. Earth is our spaceship, and the ISS is just a traveling companion as we hurtle around the Sun together, again and again.

As Earth Day approaches, I hope all inhabitants of our beautiful planet learn to see it without borders, as we do. We all live out in space.

—Andrew J. “Drew” Feustel (@Astro_Feustel), NASA Astronaut

Editor’s note: Drew Feustel, one of NASA’s astronauts on the International Space Station, is a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Feustel arrived at the ISS on 23 March and will stay there until 4 October. He will be joined in July by Alex Gerst, another AGU member. Eos and AGU are pleased to have their first off-planet submission!

Citation: Feustel, A. J. (2018), Earth Day message from an astronaut on the space station, Eos, 99, https://doi.org/10.1029/2018EO097171. Published on 19 April 2018.
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