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‘I just realized how special this planet is’: Natomas teacher back home after NASA flight

By Brittany Hope

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    SACRAMENTO, California (KCRA) — “You’re looking out and you’re seeing a view that you think you would recognize because you’ve been on planes before,” Domina Stamas told KCRA 3. “But the lights were smaller. Everything seemed smaller.”

Seeing the Earth from 43,000 feet in the air, in the stratosphere, is something very few humans will ever experience in their lifetimes. A Natomas teacher is now part of that small circle.

Stamas was one of 28 educators nationwide selected for the “Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors” program, part of NASA’s SETI Institute, which aims to give high school STEM teachers real-world experience to bring back to their classrooms.

KCRA 3 has been following Stamas along her week-long journey as she attended trainings and briefings on the NASA Armstrong Research Facility in Palmdale in Southern California.

She took flight on the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, or the SOFIA, Tuesday evening and landed back on the ground Wednesday morning. She arrived back home in Sacramento late Wednesday night.

The SOFIA mission Stamas flew on was studying the moon and an asteroid.

She said the flight was “inspiring,” and gave her a “sense of awe” and “a sense of connection” to the planet.

Thanks to NASA, Stamas and the other educators on board will bring a brand new curriculum based on the SOFIA’s missions back to their students.

In Natomas, Westlake Charter High School students will be able to soak in the knowledge. Stamas is back on the ground with new teaching materials, along with a new sense of reflection.

“I just wish people knew our place in the universe because we would take care of each other a little more,” Stamas said. “We would value each other more.”

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