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Prunariu: Comparing thickness of Earth's atmosphere, it would not be greater than apple's peel; we poison it

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Astronaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, an honorary member of the Romanian Academy, drew attention on Friday to the ignorance with which man pollutes the Earth's atmosphere by deforestation, the "oxygen factory of the planet".

"What struck me as soon as I reached the extra-atmospheric heights was the thinness of the Earth's atmosphere. If you compared the Earth to an apple, the thickness of the atmosphere would not be greater than the thickness of its peel. It is almost shocking to understand that in that thin layer life has developed and all living processes are unfolding and the fact that we, in our ignorance, pollute this atmosphere, poison what we breathe and what future generations will breathe, at the same time deforesting the forests, which represent the oxygen plant of the planet," Prunariu told a scientific session dedicated to the 40th anniversary of a Romanian's first flight into space and 60 years since man's first flight into space, held in the "Ion Heliade Radulescu" Amphitheatre of the Romanian Academy's Library.

Recalling the conditions and scientific experiments performed as a result of his participation in the space mission aboard the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 40 and the orbital scientific research complex Soyuz-Saliut 6, Prunariu emphasized the destruction caused by human activities, agerpres.ro confirms.

"Besides the many hours devoted daily to scientific activity, we had time to admire, from time to time, in real time, also the extraordinary images of the Earth. One sees continents, oceans, meteorological phenomena, human activities, everything was vibrating. From those heights you can see well. And the destruction caused by man's activities, perhaps profitable in the short term, but reckless, on a generational scale, such as cutting down tropical forests and not only them, water and soil pollution, advancing the desert due to the destruction of vegetation and others," said the astronaut.

Dumitru Prunariu appealed to the appreciation "of the real but also historical value" of the "pioneers of outer space."

"The cosmos opens up new horizons for you. You come to see your own planet from outside of it, to have other perceptions of space and dimensions, phenomena and terrestrial problems. Cosmonauts and astronauts specialize in complex fields of activity, appreciated in specialized environments and not only. With the same respect and appreciation, there has always been talk, everywhere in the world, of both Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn or Alexei Leonov and Neil Armstrong, as well as many other spacemen from the 38 states who have participated so far in manned cosmic flights. The cosmic flight remains, until now, an act of courage and heroism. Of the 580 people that have flown into outer space so far, about 4.5% have died during space missions. Not to treat these pioneers of outer space adequately and not to appreciate their real but also historical value, regardless of the political regime in which they flew into space or in which they came to live, I believe that is an error," Dumitru Prunariu also said.

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Romania, Valery Kuzmin, stated that Yuri Gagarin represents "a model of heroism and dedication" for people around the world, who continue to inspire today's generations.

The diplomat recalled that the Russian diplomatic missions organized a series of commemorative events on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's departure into space, advocating for an understanding of the global importance of the significance of this event.

The ambassador praised the cooperation between Romania and his country in the case of the Prunariu-Popov mission.

Valery Kuzmin stressed that the Russian Federation, a "leader in space exploration", continues to campaign for a space without weapons, which will benefit, through a wide international collaboration, the whole world.

A photodocumentary exhibition made available by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Bucharest, which offers unique images and data on the two scientific performances, was opened in the foyer of the amphitheater.

The astronaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu made, between May 14 and 22, 1981, the first flight in the cosmic space of a Romanian. The space mission was carried out aboard the Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 40 and the Soyuz-Saliut scientific orbital research complex. Together with his crew colleague, cosmonaut Leonid Popov, he conducted a series of scientific, technological, biomedical, astrophysical and psychological researches.

In 2011, the Romanian Academy elected Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu an honorary member, in recognition of his extraordinary scientific performance.

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