With passing of Sally Ride today (pancreatic cancer, 61), sad day for science, exploration and eduction. Houston Chronicle. USA Today. Here’s my Dot Earth post.

Here’s President Obama’s statement: 

"Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Sally Ride.  As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model.  She inspired  generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools.  Sally’s life showed us  that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Sally’s family and friends."

My last substantive e-mail exchange with Sally came in 2008, after I wrote on the 40th anniversary of the Earthrise photograph snapped during the Apollo 8 mission. Here’s her note, expressing her optimism at the time about the country’s direction: 

More than anything else, our venturing into space has taught us to appreciate Earth — it’s revolutionized our view of our planet and our understanding of its complexity, and made us see the impact that we’re having on it. (You can tell that I’m going to enjoy the new Administration’s re-emphasis on Earth science within NASA!)

By the way, I, too, am excited about the new science team — from the Sec. of Energy (an inspired choice!) to the President’s Science Advisor (and his co-chairs of PCAST), to the head of NOAA. These appointments, above all, show the value that is soon to be placed on science.  (And about time!).

By the way, thanks for letting our writers (for Sally Ride Science) interview you for our Environmental Sciences career book [relevant link] a couple years ago.  And did we think to send you our (more recent) books for middle school classrooms on Climate Change (4 books: “Our Changing Climate: Oceans; ….The Poles; ….The Atmosphere;…..Ecosystems”) and Earth’s Precious Resources (4 books: Clean Air; Clean Energy; Clean Water; and Living Green).  If not, send me your address, and I’ll shoot you copies!

Happy holidays — and keep blogging!

Sally