MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Yesterday, NASA announced that astronaut Scott Kelly will retire from the space agency as of April 1. Kelly holds the U.S. record for the most time spent in space. For nearly a full year, he zoomed along at 17,500 miles an hour, orbiting 230 miles above Earth on the International Space Station. And for those million or so of us who follow him on Twitter, Commander Kelly's year in space gave us a mind-expanding view of planet Earth.
Kelly posted spectacular photos - awesome in the true sense of the word. He called them Earth-art. Through his zoom lens, he snapped the majestic snowy cap of Mount Fuji from straight overhead. It looks like a barnacle. The cracking blue ice of the Himalayas turns into a stunning lapis mosaic.
One day, Africa appears as a mass of crinkly brown veins. Another, it's become vivid streaks of orange and gold. Crimson and violet squiggles around Australia could be an abstract painting. It seemed that Commander Kelly never got tired of what he could see out the window and what he could make us see in an entirely new way. When the capsule bearing Kelly and cosmonauts Kornienko and Volkov parachuted to a landing in Kazakhstan earlier this month, that fantastic journey came to a close. Back home in Houston, Scott Kelly will be poked and prodded, weighed and measured, all in the name of science. And his terrestrial tweets now bring their own delights. He posted video of his first plunge into a pool.
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SCOTT KELLY: Man, that feels good.
BLOCK: A few days later, there was Scott Kelly with his arms stretched overhead and a big smile, looking up at a dark sky.
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KELLY: My first rain in more than a year. Awesome.
BLOCK: That's #rain on #Earth. I missed weather, he wrote. Kelly has rejoiced in the simple pleasure of being able to sit down at a table for dinner. He's even excited about finally getting to go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning. I guess that's what a year in space will do to you. I realize I've been missing Scott Kelly's technicolor snapshots from space. It was impossible to look at those images and not be awed by the sheer natural beauty of this blue marble.
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