Blog from space

By Phil Plait | March 19, 2009 10:58 am
Sandra Magnus, astronaut

There are a lot of us here on Earth who blog about space, but as far as I know, there’s only one person in space who blogs about Earth: Sandra Magnus. She’s on board the International Space Station… or at least, she will be for a few more days. When Discovery returns home, it’ll have her on board, taking her down to Earth where she’ll walk on a planet for the first time since November of last year.

She just posted a beautiful entry where she takes the time to sit and watch the Earth roll underneath her as she passes silently over it at 8 kilometers per second. It’s vivid and wonderful, a description of the view that I hope the next generation of humans will find commonplace. For now though, it’s a rare gem, so enjoy it.


Comments (22)

  1. So glad you chose to post about this! For those of us who blog “about” space and space travel, we can only envy Sandra. I hope more of the ISS folks take up blogging…

  2. I could see the earth as I read her description. Of course that was largely based on the NASA pics of the earth I’ve seen. It must be sooooo much more impressive up there.

  3. firemancarl

    Wow, what a truly awesome sight it must be from up there. I hope I get to experience that view for myself one day.

  4. So, what sort of connection does she have up there? Sorry, I got to thinking on the technical details of blogging from the ISS, and forgot to look out the window!

  5. I wish I could have read more of what she wrote, but right in the middle she told me to close my eyes and imagine I was there looking over her shoulder….

    Could someone tell me what she saw?


  6. L O'Neill
  7. Bruce Townley

    Thanks very much for providing the link to Sandra Magnus’ (literally) out of this world blog. Stirring stuff!

    Bruce T.

  8. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    That gives me a business idea: bounce modulated lasers off the Moon mirrors and post parts of the data stream for paying customers as “moonblighting” or sumthin’. Expensive but exclusive bits, coming to you from the Moon.

    [All right, so it hits me that Heinlein used that idea in his moon pieces. But at least it’s upgraded from analog deadtreeware to digital software.]

  9. Caleb

    Unfortunately, her post stopped being interesting after this sentence:

    >> Close your eyes and imagine yourself here on ISS with me looking out of the docking compartment window.


  10. Reed

    Larian LeQuella:
    Sandra answers the question about internet connection

  11. Numbskull

    What’s the terminator she’s talking about?

  12. CR

    Terminator = dividing line between night & day on the surface of a globe.

    What a beautiful entry; thanks, BA, for linking to it.
    I posted a comment there; as I type this, it’s awaiting moderation/approval. I must print off a copy of her words and paste them into one of the older ‘astronomy’-related books on my shelf: The Home Planet, by Kevin W Kelley. The combination of her words and the photos in that book will be the next best thing to being there, for now anyway.

  13. Monkey's Uncle

    AWE INSPIRING….Me very jealous. She has a great way with words, and that experience must be truly wonderful. Thanks Mr. Plait for highlighting the blog.

    I’d like to ask a question that is adult in nature but surely shouldn’t be too shocking….has any pair of astronauts/cosmonauts, of any gender, had intercourse in Space? I am not a pervert, but I think that this question must have been addressed by somebody since mankind got into space. The question has ramifications if we are to send people to Mars and beyond, after all, we are all human and have human needs….unless NASA and Russia selects asexual people for the space programme!

    I just wondered because outside the realms of Sci-Fi I don’t think I have read anything about it?

  14. Cheyenne

    I would love to watch the ISS pass overhead! Normally with totally stupid misappropriated government spending you have to delve into the minutiae of entitlement budgets and what not to get a feel for it. But with the ISS you can actually see a can of $150-$250 billion non-science flying across the sky with your own eyes!

    I’m so glad that we made the decision that it was more important to stick an astronaut into that thing so she could blog about it as opposed to investing in something like a sample return mission to Mars or trying to get to Europa. I’m so inspired by her poetry. And little Jimmy is too. Thanks NASA! Blog from space. Nice job greybeards. Nice job.

    Please make me a troll that should be banished from this blog by providing an exhaustive list of your accomplishments and discoveries by making this nation fund that thing at the direct expense of other missions in this solar system.

  15. Peter

    She mentions the stars twinkling. Isn’t the space station above the atmosphere? i.e. above the ‘twinkle’ zone? Anyone know how far toward the moon the Apollos went before the stars ahead ‘stabilised’ to steady dots?

  16. Cheyenne, while I agree with some of what you say, you don’t have to be quite so vitriolic about it. Feel free to read my commenting policy.

  17. Chet Twarog

    At this late date this will probably not be read.
    However, although I enjoyed her descriptions, I commented to her that the Earth’s daylight terminator was not moving towards the ISS, nor was the “sun rising or coming up”.
    Semantics, yes, but the ISS is orbiting toward the day/night terminators; the Sun or Moon or stars/planets/comets appear to be “rising, going overhead, setting” but it is the ISS that is moving, orbiting, with astronauts seeing them coming into “sight” above Earth’s terminator or “eclipsing/setting” below the terminator.
    Astronaut Magnus has not replied.

  18. Awesome! Congrats Sandra that’s one cool!!


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