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Emily LakdawallaJuly 7, 2010

A brush painting for Hayabusa

Last month, my high school chemistry teacher, James Aldridge, chaperoned a group of students on a two-week cultural exchange trip from their home of Fort Worth, Texas to its sister city in Japan, Nagaoka. Just before he left, he updated his Facebook status to "is off for two weeks in Japan," and I commented to him that he'd be there for two huge events in Japanese space exploration, the return of Hayabusa with its precious cargo of asteroid dust and the unfurling of IKAROS' sail. Upon his return, he posted several albums worth of amazing photos to his Facebook page, including several of their calligraphy instructor, well-known artist Aiko Tanaka, creating a gestural brush painting to commemorate Hayabusa's return. He said that they brought the piece back to Fort Worth with them, and it'll probably be displayed in the Sister Cities office there.

A brush painting for Hayabusa

James Aldridge

A brush painting for Hayabusa
Aiko Tanaka brushes the final strokes in a painting created to commemorate the successful return of Hayabusa to Earth. The kanji at the heart of the painting stands for "universe," with added stars and planets.

Thanks, Dr. Aldridge, for the photo -- and for being such a wonderful mentor, to me and to the kids you took to Japan and to the (eek) 18 years worth of students that have warmed the seats in your various classrooms since I took AP Chem with you!

(I've tried but I simply cannot bring myself to call any of my grade school teachers by their first names. "Dr.," "Mrs.," and "Mr." they were then, and always will be, it seems.)

Read more: IKAROS, Hayabusa (MUSES-C), fun, personal stories, art

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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