Of all the pictures I went through for my Top 14 list, this was the toughest to leave out, because I think it evokes the most basic of human emotions. It shows astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson
, team member of Expedition 24, on board the International Space Station. Floating in the cupola, she is wistfully gazing out on the Earth just a day before leaving space to come home once again.
I do so love this picture. It represents so much: homesickness, maybe, and a hint of sadness that her time left on the ISS is drawing to a close. But it also represents something even more: we are no longer a species bound to our planet
. We send people into space to live there, to work there. Amazing.
So why didn't I include it on the Top 14 list? Mainly because of the contrast. In the original
, you could barely see Dr. Dyson, because she was in shadow and the Earth was so bright. I fiddled with the contrast a lot to get this picture to work at all - you can just barely see her hair floating above her head - but by doing so I made the resulting picture grainy and the colors are a bit off. Because of that, I decided it didn't have the impact of the others I chose for the list.
Perhaps that was a mistake.[UPDATE Dec. 20, 2010: My brother in law Chris found a much better version of this picture on wikipedia; someone there adjusted it far better than I could have and in fact this is the best version I've seen; had I know of this earlier I would've made it my #2 pick in the main list. I have updated the gallery picture here, and added a link to the big clean version below.]
It truly is
an amazing picture. When I first saw it, in fact, I was immediately reminded of this painting
, which I wrote about on the blog with the title, "Someday". I had no idea I'd see so similar a tableau in real life just a few months later! We complain that we don't have jetpacks and flying cars, but let me assure you, the future is happening right now
It's up to us to make sure that the future unfolding before us becomes the reality we want it to be.Per ardua, ad astra
.Get the hi-res (original) version here, and get a very large version cleaned up here.Image credit: NASA