SOCIETY

Italian astronaut presents his views of the world at the Eugenides

There?s an image on the photo-sharing website Flickr, showing one of the Cyclades islands surrounded by the clear Aegean blue. Underneath, there?s a quiz question: ?Which Greek island, without snakes?? Several people have answered correctly that it is Anafi, whose name derives from the ancient term for ?without snakes,? ?an ofis.?

This photograph of Anafi, taken from space, is one of hundreds by Paolo Nespoli, an Italian astronaut at the European Space Agency, during his five-month mission at the International Space Station from December 15, 2010 to May 25, 2011.

A large part of his collection of photographs of Earth taken from space will be on display at the Eugenides Foundation in Athens in an exhibition that will be inaugurated by Nespoli, at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21. He will also discuss his work at the mission and his experiences as an astronaut at the same event.

Nespoli was the first flight engineer in a five-member mission known as MagISStra, whose task it was to carry out maintenance work on the International Space Station, while also taking on European, Japanese and Russian spacecraft delivering equipment and supplies.

While on the mission, Nespoli developed a close relationship with the hundreds of fans of space photography who followed his posts on Twitter and responded with great enthusiasm every time he put up a new photograph.

According to Nespoli, having a hobby such as photography is an important diversion on such missions, where the mind often gets taken up in all sorts of thoughts.

?If I could, I would send all of the world?s politicians up there,? Nespoli told Kathimerini via telephone prior to his arrival in Athens. ?I am certain that they would gain a completely different perspective. When we?re on Earth we can only see as far as the eye can see, but when you see all of this from above, you realize that we are all much closer to one another.?

Earth, according to the 54-year-old astronaut, is like a ?beautiful blue ship sailing through space.?

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Eugenides Foundation, 387 Syngrou Avenue, tel 210.941.7372, www.eugenfound.edu.gr