Returning French superstar spaceman Thomas Pesquet's ode to Earth in pictures
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French astronaut Thomas Pesquet returned to Earth on Friday after a six-month mission on the ISS. He travelled 400km up to study space, but his tweets highlighted his home planet. FRANCE 24 has unearthed Pesquet’s out-of-this-world images.
The Normandy-born Pesquet made the three-hour-and-20-minute return trip on Friday alongside Russian colleague Oleg Novitskiy on the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft, which delivered the pair onto the steppes of Kazakhstan at around 2:10pm GMT (4:10pm Paris time).
It’s been a fantastic adventure and amazing ride. We got a lot of work done up here. Now it’s time to come back to the planet. See you soon! pic.twitter.com/NToaV0WcUY— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) June 2, 2017
At 39, Pesquet is the youngest of the European Space Agency’s roster of astronauts. This space voyage was his first, after training for more than seven years.
His 196-day trip falls just three days short of the record for the longest continuous mission in space by a European.
A spacecraft engineer by training, Pesquet is also a former commercial pilot for Air France.
The son of a maths and physics professor and a schoolteacher, the polyglot Pesquet speaks French, English, German, Russian and Spanish.
Waves are majestic, both up close and from space. As I watch them from here, I can just about imagine the sound of water hitting the shore pic.twitter.com/xsHFYjBXAg— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) May 30, 2017
He is also an accomplished sportsman, with a black belt in judo and extensive scuba and skydiving experience to round out the tableau.
The delta of Saloum in Senegal, you can tell it is full of life from up here, but also a fragile ecosystem pic.twitter.com/P7foVWx2Zg— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) April 21, 2017
(And yes, ladies, he is taken; Pesquet’s partner, Anne Mottet, lives in Rome, where she works for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.)
But for the general public in France and beyond – and for @thom_astro’s 561,000 Twitter followers, in particular – his trip will be remembered as a window on the earth.
Pesquet's extraordinary photographs and videos from space displayed natural and man-made phenomena all around the planet, sometimes explicitly remarking on a magnificent vista’s vulnerability to climate change.
This pic shows how fragile Earth is–the thin band on the horizon is our atmosphere, the only protection from the vacuum & radiation of space pic.twitter.com/GPP3xXtLKE— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) April 24, 2017
“There are things that one understands intellectually, but which one doesn’t really get,” Pesquet told Agence France-Presse via videolink, while gently floating around in zero gravity inside the ISS. When it comes to global warming, he said, “We talk of two degrees (Celsius) or four degrees – these are numbers which sometimes exceed human understanding. But to see the planet as a whole… to see it for yourself… this allows you to truly appreciate the fragility.”
Alas, Pesquet, who lifted off when Barack Obama was still president of the United States and Donald Trump the new president-elect, also returns to earth less than 24 hours after Trump’s announcement that the US would pull out of the Paris climate agreement.
How can a river produce such elaborate and beautiful shapes and color? Sometimes I want to drop my camera and just watch the beauty of Earth pic.twitter.com/NtvSE2UNdw— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) April 26, 2017
Pesquet arrived on the ISS on November 20, which was also before the election of a French president only two months his elder.
Emmanuel Macron followed Pesquet's return to earth from France’s National Centre for Space Studies in Paris on Friday afternoon. The president and the astronaut will speak briefly once Pesquet exits the capsule in Kazahkstan.
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