This Frenchman has inspired millions with the adventures he has posted on social networks. 41-year-old Thomas Pesquet is one of the European Space Agency’s astronauts. From November 2016 to June 2017, he spent 196 days (six months) aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on the Proxima mission, running experiments surrounding the force of -gravity, carrying out maintenance work on the orbital outpost and conducting spacewalks.
As well as leading a scientific mission, he has shown the public that he is an outstanding photographer and an artist with rare sensibility. From space, you have the best view imaginable of all the treasures of our planet, and the ultimate overview of its vulnerability, he explains. When you hear about global warming, melting ice-caps and other threatening phenomena, it’s almost impossible to visualise it, because their place in space and time is just too immense. But seen from above, you understand perfectly. From the ground, you feel as if the planet and its resources are endless. From the stars, you grasp their finiteness
On his time off at the ISS, at 400 kilometres altitude, Thomas Pesquet took photos of Earth, honing his technique over the weeks: The Station travels so fast (27,600 km/h) that I couldn’t afford to miss a second. For each photograph, I had very little time to set up my camera. And I also had to make up for the ISS’s travelling speed if I wanted to get a clear shot. Our planet revealed its charms in the photographs on display here. Stretches of deserted, intensively farmed land, islands bobbing on deep blue seas, sprawling cities twinkling in the darkness, the fragile, vulnerable beauty of our world is hauntingly mesmerising.
More than just a work of art, Thomas Pesquet transforms the planet into the ultimate masterpiece. Earth(s) with an ’s‘, because of our planet’s multifaceted nature, mineral and luscious, arid and aquatic, wild and tamed, deserted and overpopulated. The important part for me is being able to share these images and how they made me feel, explains the astronaut. By sharing them, he hopes to offer a glimpse of the famous overview effect, the sudden, resolute awareness that our planet deserves more protection than we currently afford it. As Thomas himself puts it: „Earth is a spaceship with a crew of 7 billion people, all of whom are seeking to survive. It is as mortal as it is magnificent. Let’s not forget that.“
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