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Emily LakdawallaJune 15, 2015

Welcome home, AstroSamantha

Three astronauts have returned to Earth, and while I'm happy that they landed safely, I'm very sad that astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is not in space anymore. She is a nerd after my own heart, tweeting such science fiction influenced gems as

"There's coffee in that nebula"... ehm, I mean... in that #Dragon.

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) April 17, 2015

"Coffee: the finest organic suspension ever devised." Fresh espresso in the new Zero-G cup! To boldly brew...

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 3, 2015

Use it to show the quirks of water in weightlessness (you have seen that video by @Cmdr_Hadfield, right?) #TowelDay

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 25, 2015

I mean, seriously, check out her T-shirt.

.@AstroSamantha rockin' in space while dockin' a #Dragon. Tomorrow #CRS6 arrives at #ISS. #ThrowbackThursday

— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) April 16, 2015

I mean, dude, check out her T-shirt. She is the goddess of T-shirts.

1st morning in temporary Houston home, enjoying sounds, smells, flavors of Earth. Doing great, but gravity is tough!

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 14, 2015

She didn't just fool around in space, of course; she did plenty of science while she was up there.

L+149: #SamLogbook. BRICs are happily chilling out at -98 Celsius & Osteo-4 ended #science

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) April 23, 2015

And an astronaut has a lot of much less glamorous work to do.

Amazing how much dust accumulates in the ventilation system. @Astro_Kimiya, your quarters are clean & ready for you!

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 9, 2015

But clearly posting to Twitter is something that she did on her downtime, often as she was headed to bed. She had a keen eye for striking imagery, near or far, and a piquant turn of phrase -- I imagine this was even better in Italian. All of these images were taken in the last month; you must check out her Twitter media feed for her photography and comments spanning the 200 days she spent in space.

The sunglint turns water into silver. #HelloEarth / (IT) L'acqua diventa argento grazie al riflesso del Sole...

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 17, 2015

So many patterns and shapes drawn on our planet. #ColorsOfTheEarth

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 21, 2015

The Moon looks from here pretty much like it looks from Earth. Beautiful and mysterious... and still very far!

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 23, 2015

The amazing @csa_asc #Canadarm2 in action in this #spacevine / (IT) Il #Canadarm in azione!

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 26, 2015

Peaking through the little window in the Node 1 nadir hatch as PMM was moved yesterday. #RemodelingInSpace

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 28, 2015

Who needs bread crumbs when you can have a trail of atolls? #HelloEarth

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 30, 2015

This image almost gives an impression of movement, don't you think? #HelloEarth

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 30, 2015

#Canadarm2, our robotic arm. Base and tip end effectors are identical, so the arm can... "walk"! #OurOutpostInSpace

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 2, 2015

Nice job disguising yourself #Ireland, but we can still see you.

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 3, 2015

Yesterday, on flight day 195, I finally saw noctilucent clouds for the very first time! #MarvelsNeverEnd

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 7, 2015

Still fascinated by the elegant beauty of our solar panels. #OurOutpostInSpace

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 7, 2015

Cristoforetti annotated images of her return to Earth with her characteristic spirit:

Early start into Day 200 in #space. It's been an amazing journey, thx for coming along! Now time to go home to Earth.

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 11, 2015

What a beauty! Our #Soyuz right after undocking – by then, we had been in our seats for well over 2 hrs. #JourneyBack

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 14, 2015

3 hours later, after a wild fall through the atmosphere engulfed in plasma, we look a bit burned :-) #JourneyBack

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 14, 2015

By the way, look at that landscape… we were welcomed by the steppe covered in green. Such a rare treat! #JourneyBack

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 15, 2015

Our capsule remained upside right… actually makes the extraction work a bit harder for crew & rescuers. #JourneyBack

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 15, 2015

After checking that nothing was hurting after impact, I took a peak at the rescue teams at work outside. #JourneyBack

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 15, 2015

Out of the Soyuz: felt 500-ton heavy & my internal “gyroscopes” definitely needed some recalibration! #JourneyBack

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) June 15, 2015

So dear Samantha: I'm glad you made it home safely; but I am very sorry you're not in space anymore to wish us "Buona notte dallo spazio." I hope you get to go back someday so we can see Earth -- and maybe places beyond -- through your eyes.

Good night from #space. Buona notte dallo spazio.

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 26, 2015

Good night from #space. Buona notte dallo spazio.

— Sam Cristoforetti (@AstroSamantha) May 24, 2015

Read more: pretty pictures, human spaceflight, astronaut, Earth, International Space Station

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Emily Lakdawalla

Solar System Specialist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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