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UC Berkeley Web Feature

Berkeley from space
The UC Berkeley campus stands out like an oasis in the center of the urban jungle in this photo taken from the International Space Station by astronaut and Cal grad Leroy Chiao. (NASA photo) Downloadable version available

Keeping an eye on Cal – from space

– Many Cal alums like to check up on the old alma mater every now and again, but chemical engineering grad Leroy Chiao gets to do so from a unique vantage point — the International Space Station.

Leroy Chiao
Leroy Chiao. (NASA photo)

Chiao, who graduated from UC Berkeley in 1983, is currently serving a six-month stint as mission commander of a joint U.S.-Russian crew aboard the space station. While in orbit, has had to deal with a threatened food shortage (eased by the timely arrival of an unmanned Russian resupply ship) in addition to taking a spacewalk, performing maintenance tasks and a host of scientific experiments, and packing hardware for eventual return to Earth aboard the Space Shuttle.

In late January, while the Space Station was passing over the West Coast of the United States, Chiao snapped the photo above, using a 400mm telephoto lens from an altitude of about 220 miles. Chiao sent the photo to fellow NASA astronaut (and fellow Berkeley alum) Rex Walheim, who in turn forwarded a copy to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. Walheim (Mechanical Engineering '84) said Chiao "had a lot of fun talking to the Cal football team [from the Space Station] before the Holiday Bowl," and added that "Leroy and I are both very proud of Cal."

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