Thomas Pesquet released a book to raise ecological awareness

DInce space, the Earth appeared to him as a fragile “island of life”: during his second mission in orbit, Thomas Pesquet immortalized new amazing views of a planet whose state of destruction jumped on him.

The French astronaut, who descended a year ago from the International Space Station (ISS), sends his unique testimony in a selection of his best shots: 300 shots gathered in The Earth in our handsgood book to be published on Wednesday by Flammarion editions, and the copyright will be given to Restos du cœur.

He wrote in the preamble that he “caught the photo bug” on his first space mission (2016-2017) and said how on his second (“Alpha”, from April to November 2021), he stopped machine-gunning the planet. . This time by passing on his passion to his fellow travelers on the ISS.

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“At first, I was a bit of a Sunday photographer, then I really liked it,” Thomas Pesquet told Agence France-Presse. “When you arrive at the station, you have a smartphone reflex: you see something great, you immortalize it… but you quickly face limitations if you want to take pictures at night, for example, take accurate target with big goals. , etc. Because it’s difficult, everything is manual. »

On board, a dozen cameras are available to the astronauts, some of which are permanently installed in the Cupola, the famous panoramic observation window of the ISS, or in the American laboratory, a porthole looking vertically towards the Earth.

He took about 245,000 of them, in some time of his daily leisure. “A lot is missed, but in six months there is a real development curve”. Seas, rivers, islands, deserts, mountains, sunsets and sunrises: faced with the beauty of Earth, the astronaut’s “awe” is always there.

“The planet is so vast and diverse that you never feel like you’ve seen it all. Even after 400 days in orbit, there are still things that surprise me, places I’ve never seen before. » At 28,000 km/h, the scrolling of the station means that « we are never above the same places at the same time of day ».

The big news? The northern lights, some of them bluish, to his great surprise: secret moments, but which he got this time thanks to his American teammate Shane Kimbrough: like a vigil, he saw the these coming from his “bedroom, it gave us time to configure our devices”.

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Witnessing scenes of natural disasters is “helpless”

From the “picture book in love with the Earth”, Thomas Pesquet also shared images “that we don’t want to see”, to warn of its fragility: the “bad scenes” of storms, tornadoes and fires which shook the planet during its 200 days in orbit. Which he attended, “helplessly”.

“What surprised me the most were the lights. We see the fire, the smoke very clear, of an amazing size”, which gives the impression of “the end of the world”. “Like in the movies”, he saw the whole region engulfed: southern Europe, British Columbia , the plains of California “slowly consumed by a blanket of smoke”…

“The difference in four years, I saw. My first mission took place in the winter, my second in the summer, so it’s normal that there are more fires but in general, I witnessed more violent phenomena”, he lamented. This remarkable strengthening of extreme climatic phenomena, “which we know are related to climate change, convince me that we have not done enough to protect our planet”, wrote the astronaut.

Without science – climate experts, measurements of the effects of disruption using satellites – “we will be lost in the face of the scale of the challenges”, he pleaded. “It’s not too late, but while we wait… But, unfortunately, we have the impression that everyone is looking at each other like a faience dog: every year, we say that “now the time to act “And this is the same the year after, we only do small actions without a strong overall impact” on the environment, he regrets.

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