Saturday, October 28, 2017

Via satellite call from Vatican, Pope talks meaning of life with Space Station astronauts

Two weeks earlier I asked the same questions so beautifully depicted in a Paul Gauguin painting, read here. Now the Pope raises the very same questions:

“Astronomy makes us contemplate the horizons of the universe and raises questions in us: Where did we come from? Where are we going?” the Pope said, as the Earth turns at a rate of 10 km per second


Pope Francis connecting live audio-video with the crew of Mission 53 onboard the International Space Station on Oct. 26, 2017. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

Pope Francis conversed with astronauts orbiting earth on the International Space Station on Thursday, discussing questions as diverse as man’s place in the universe, the fragility of life and the planet, and international cooperation.
“Astronomy makes us contemplate the horizons of the universe and raises questions in us: Where did we come from? Where are we going?” the Pope said.
His first question to the astronauts: “What is your thought on man’s place in the universe?”
Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli responded, saying that man’s place in the universe is a “complex question,” especially for him since his specialties are in the technical realm.
However, he noted that being in space has helped him to realize that the more humanity learns, the more clearly we can see how much we still do not know.
“I would love for people like you, not just engineers, not just physicists, but people like you (Holy Father) – theologians, philosophers, poets, writers... – to come here in space, and this will surely happen in the future, I would love (for them) to come here to explore what it means to have a human being in space,” he said.
Pope Francis contacted NASA's Internationl Space Station via a satellite call from the Vatican on. Oct. 26. Aboard the space station are a total of six astronauts, including three Americans, two Rusians and one Italian, who have been orbiting the earth, about 220 miles away.
Josef Aschbacher, director of the earth observation programs (ESA), told journalists after the call that for the astronauts, speaking with the Pope was an “experience of a lifetime.”
He said the Pope’s questions were all “very interesting” because they have to do with “our life, as humanity.”
For example, Francis asked the team what motivated them to become astronauts, and what they enjoy about being in space.
“Traveling in space modifies so many things that are taken for granted in everyday life, for example the idea of up and down,” he said, also asking if there is anything about living in the space station that has surprised them.
American Randolph Bresnik said that what gives him the greatest joy in space is being able “to look outside and see God's creation maybe a little bit from his perspective. People cannot come up here and see the indescribable beauty of our earth and not be touched in their souls.”
There’s an incredible peace and serenity to our planet when you see it in orbit, he said, and there are “no borders, no conflict, it’s just peaceful.”
He also said that from space you can see “the thinness of the atmosphere, and it makes you realize how fragile our existence here is.”
Pope Francis responded by saying that he loved that answer, how Bresnik had pointed out the earth’s fragility, how it’s a “passing moment,” the earth turning at a rate of 10 km per second. = CatholicNewsAgency

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