Astronaut gives Isaac Newton cosmic view of Earth

May 20, 2010 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
In an image made from NASA TV Astronaut Stephen Bowen Wednesday May 19, 2010 adjusts a cable on the end of the orbiter boom that was inhibiting a camera from maneuvering correctly. (AP Photo/NASA)

(AP) -- Sir Isaac Newton is getting the royal treatment in space, thanks to the British-born astronaut who carried up a picture of the 17th century scientist and a chip from his famous apple tree.

Atlantis astronaut Piers Sellers said Thursday that he placed Newton's picture in the glassed-in dome of the - the best seat in the gravity-less house. The views of Earth are stupendous from there.

"Sir Isaac absolutely loved it, I've got to tell you," Sellers said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We had him in the window, and he got to watch his little wood chip float by and ponder the laws of gravitation and everything, so I think it was a treat for him."

The Royal Society of London provided Sellers with the 4-inch sliver of wood, which he took with him into orbit aboard the shuttle. It's inscribed with Newton's initials and, according to the society, came from the actual tree in England from which an apple fell nearly 350 years ago and inspired Newton to discover the law of gravity.

Sellers said Wednesday's ceremony was a dry run. He plans to videotape the Newton items later this week for the Royal Society, which is the national academy of science of the United Kingdom. It's celebrating its 350th anniversary.

Newton was a physicist, mathematician and astronomer. His brush with the falling apple is believed to have occurred in the mid-1660s.

Sellers, now a U.S. citizen, and the rest of Atlantis' visiting got some time off Thursday after nearly a week of stressful work in orbit.

The day's big event was the grand opening of the space station's newest room.

The Russian compartment, named Rassvet, or Dawn, was installed by the Atlantis crew earlier this week. Station commander Oleg Kotov had the honor of opening it up.

Kotov wore goggles and a mask as he peeked inside and hooked up an air filter. It was a precaution in case of floating dust, paint flakes or other debris. He reported that everything looked normal.

The compartment - 20 feet long and 8 feet in diameter - is crammed with food, laptop computers and other supplies provided by NASA. The space station residents don't plan to unload the provisions until Atlantis leaves Sunday.

One last major chore awaits the shuttle astronauts: a on Friday to finish replacing space station batteries. Four fresh batteries were plugged in during Wednesday's spacewalk. The crew also untangled a cable on Atlantis' inspection boom and fixed a loose antenna on the station.

"I am absolutely super pleased" with how the mission has gone, shuttle commander Kenneth Ham told the AP. "We're all feeling pretty darned good."

This is NASA's last planned flight of Atlantis. The shuttle and its six-man crew are due back on Earth next Wednesday.

Only two shuttle missions remain, by Discovery and Endeavour this fall. Once the fleet is retired, NASA will focus on getting astronauts to an asteroid and Mars by 2025 and 2035, respectively. That's the plan laid out earlier this year by President Barack Obama.

Explore further: NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Shuttle Atlantis arrives at space station

May 16, 2010

(AP) -- The shuttle Atlantis arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday amid a flurry of picture-taking intended to make up for a curtailed safety survey the day before.

Spacewalking 'superhero' untangles cable on boom

May 19, 2010

(AP) -- A spacewalking astronaut freed a snagged cable on the inspection boom for shuttle Atlantis on Wednesday, accomplishing the job in a matter of minutes and earning a "superhero" title.

Recommended for you

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

16 hours ago

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

Apr 18, 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

yyz
not rated yet May 20, 2010
"...the best seat in the gravity-less house."

Shouldn't that read "less-gravity house"?

Better yet, "microgravity" :)
BigTone
1 / 5 (4) May 20, 2010
I thought Newton was supposed to be erased from the history books or at least marginalized to one footnote... Aren't we supposed to discredit and disregard every white male in history that ever wrote something down...

I'm kidding - sort of...

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...