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Astronauts in Space Concerned for Haiti Earthquake Victims

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS)sent a heartfelt message Tuesday for the victims of last week?s devastatingearthquake in Haiti.

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi beamed the message toEarth for posting on his Twitter page, which he is using to send updates abouthis long-duration flight on the space station.

?We, ISS crew, would like to express our condolences tothe earthquakevictims in Haiti,? Noguchi wrote in his message. The astronaut,who writes as @Astro_Soichi, represents the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency(JAXA).

Haiti was struck by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12that caused widespread damage to its capitol city of Port-au-Prince. A strong, 6.1-magnitudeaftershock hit the battered island nation earlier today.

NASA and other space agencies and satellite operatorshave trained their Earth-observing satellites on the region to map thehardest-hit areas in order to aid recovery efforts.

Noguchi is one of five astronauts currently living aboardthe International Space Station as it flies 220 miles (354 km) above Earth. Inaddition to the Japanese spaceflyer, the station is home to two Americans andtwo Russians.?

Noguchi also took time to remember the victims of a massiveearthquakethat struck Japan 15 years ago this week. On Jan. 17, 1995, a 6.9-magnitudequake struck the Kobe area of Japan, killing more than 5,500 people and injuringmore than 36,000, according to the United States Geological Survey.

?It has been 15 years since the big earthquake hit Kansaiand Awaji area,? Noguchi said. ?We would like to express our condolences to theearthquake victims.?

Noguchi and his crewmates likely first heard the news ofthe Haiti earthquake last week during their daily news update, NASA officialstold SPACE.com. The astronauts regularly receive digital versions of theHouston Chronicle newspaper, as well as other updates on their chosen subjects,they added.

The space station crew is in the middle of a busy timeaboard the orbiting laboratory. Last week, the astronauts moved a massive spareparts shelf from one end of the station to the other and performed a spacewalk.

On Thursday, they will move a Soyuz spacecraft to a newlyopened docking port on the station?s roof. The crew also plans to move acone-shaped piece of the space station to a new berth later this week.

In early February, NASA?s spaceshuttle Endeavour is due to arrive at the space station with asix-astronaut crew to deliver a new module and observation portal to theorbiting laboratory.

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