Sally Ride Day remembers the first American woman in space on her birthday, May 26. Dr. Sally Ride was a mission specialist on the STS-7 mission of Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983. She was passionate about helping girls and women excel in science and math. She made a lasting contribution to science education by founding EarthKAM, a program that helps students, teachers, and the public learn about Earth from the unique perspective of space.
The program started as “KidSat” in 1995. A camera on an orbiting space shuttle took pictures of Earth locations requested by middle school students around the world. In 1998, the program was renamed EarthKAM, and in 2001, the camera was installed on the International Space Station. The camera was upgraded in 2011. After Dr. Ride died in 2012, NASA renamed the program Sally Ride EarthKAM.
EarthKAM has several week-long missions each year when the EarthKAM camera is operational in the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) on the Earth-facing window of the Destiny module on the ISS. EarthKAM Mission 61 was April 10-16, 2018. The dates for Mission 62 have not yet been announced, but they will be easy to find at earthkam.org, Sally Ride EarthKAM on Facebook, and @EarthKAM_Live on Twitter.
In addition to remembering Dr. Ride, it’s a great time to celebrate women in spaceflight and space science in general! Right now, many women are leading pioneering research and making new discoveries. Read about them in Exciting Time for Women in Science!