Laurel Clark wrote a heartfelt email from orbit to her friends and family just days before she lost her life in the Columbia tragedy. It is a beautiful message from a unique perspective that only a handful of the human race has experienced. She had the privilege (she worked very hard to get) to witness our pale blue dot from above. She saw with her own eyes breathtaking auroras, lightning, and the Sun and moon rise. It seemed as if she were sharing her amazing journey with the entire world. She was able to see a beautiful blue globe with no borders, and no hint of prejudice or injustice. She and the other 6 members who perished in the Columbia tragedy are true heroes and inspirations to all who come after them.
Below is Laurel Clark's last message to her loved ones on Earth:
A letter from Laurel, from space,
"Hello from above our magnificent planet Earth. The perspective is truly awe-inspiring. This is a terrific mission and we are very busy doing science round the clock. Just getting a moment to type e-mail is precious so this will be short, and distributed to many who I know and love.
I have seen some incredible sights: lightning spreading over the Pacific, the Aurora Australis lighting up the entire visible horizon with the cityglow of Australia below, the crescent moon setting over the limb of the Earth, the vast plains of Africa and the dunes on Cape Horn, rivers breaking through tall mountain passes, the scars of humanity, the continuous line of life extending from North America, through Central America and into South America, a crescent moon setting over the limb of our blue planet. Mount Fuji looks life a small bump from up here, but it does stand out as a very distinct landmark.
Magically, the very first day we flew over Lake Michigan and I saw Wind Point (Wisconsin) clearly. Haven't been so lucky since. Every orbit we go over a slightly different part of the Earth. Of course, much of the time I'm working back in Spacehab and don't see any of it. Whenever I do get to look out, it is glorious. Even the stars have a special brightness.
I have seen my 'friend' Orion several times. Taking photos of the earth is a real challenge, but a steep learning curve. I think I have finally gotten some beautiful shots the last 2 days. Keeping my fingers crossed that they're in sharp focus.
My near vision has gotten a little worse up here so you may have seen pics/video of me wearing glasses. I feel blessed to be here representing our country and carrying out the research of scientists around the world. All of the experiments have accomplished most of their goals despite the inevitable hiccups that occur when such a complicated undertaking is undertaken. Some experiments have even done extra science. A few are finished and one is just getting started today.
The food is great and I am feeling very comfortable in this new, totally different environment. It still takes a while to eat as gravity doesn't help pull food down your oesophagus. It is also a constant challenge to stay adequately hydrated. Since our body fluids are shifted toward our heads our sense of thirst is almost non-existent
Thanks to many of you who have supported me and my adventures throughout the years. This was definitely one to beat all. I hope you could feel the positive energy that beamed to the whole planet as we glided over our shared planet.
Love to all, Laurel."