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Astronaut's new 'Earth Views' fabrics line is patterned off planet photos from space

Former NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's Earth Views fabric squares incorporated into a quilt, titled "Cupola Views," designed with NASA engineer Sarah Ruiz.
Former NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's Earth Views fabric squares incorporated into a quilt, titled "Cupola Views," designed with NASA engineer Sarah Ruiz. (Image credit: NASA/Robert Kaufman Fabrics via collectSPACE.com)

A former NASA astronaut is sharing her favorite views of Earth to inspire new works of art.

Karen Nyberg, who demonstrated her passion for the textile arts while living on board the International Space Station, has partnered with Robert Kaufman Fabrics to introduce a line of organic cotton prints. Nyberg's "Earth Views" collection (opens in new tab) is based on the landscapes she captured while orbiting Earth 2,656 times.

"I loved to take photographs of Earth, and I think [there were] a couple of reasons for that," Nyberg said in a video released by Robert Kaufman Fabrics (opens in new tab). "One, I kind of felt like I needed to share this. I was so fortunate to be one of such a few number of people who are lucky enough to go to space and see it that I wanted to share as much as I could."

"But also I loved to try to get artistic photos of Earth and just kind of capture that beauty as much as I can," she said.

Related: Top 10 views of Earth from space

Former NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's new Earth Views fabrics line includes 13 patterns, each offered in multiple colors.

Former NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg's new Earth Views fabrics line includes 13 patterns, each offered in multiple colors. (Image credit: Robert Kaufman Fabrics)

In designing the Earth Views collection, Nyberg selected photos that she thought would be a good representation of the various textures on Earth, while also capturing the distinct ecosystems that make up the planet. Among the 13 different prints (each available in several colors) are squares based on Nyberg's photos of the Andes Mountains in Chile, the Grand Canyon (opens in new tab) in the U.S., the blue waters off the coast of the Bahamas and the Sahara Desert in Egypt.

"I worked with some amazing designers at Robert Kaufman, who were able to put [the scenes] in the repeat patterns that worked for each," said Nyberg. "We decided what the scale needed to be for each to look good and the different colorways [so that] we could then have a palette with all of the values that would help put a good quilt together."

"I really can't wait to see what people make with this fabric line," she said.

In addition to Earth Views, Nyberg's collection also includes prints inspired by the artwork she has created (opens in new tab), both on and off the planet.

Her new "Challenge Star Quilt" pattern borrows its design from the quilts she encouraged others to create, beginning with a star that she sewed while on the space station (opens in new tab) in 2013. In response, NASA received 2,400 quilt squares from around the world, which were then sewn together to create 28 king-sized quilts.

"The Star Quilt pattern is special for a couple reasons," Nyberg said. "One, my whole life I reached for the stars with my goal of being an astronaut one day flying in space. And I'm hoping so many other people are reaching for their stars as they go through life."

"Then, secondly, the Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge (opens in new tab) that we conducted when I was in space that brought so many people from around the world together with common interest," she said.

Based on the Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge and the star she sewed while in space, former astronaut Karen Nyberg's Challenge Star quilt incorporates her Earth Views.

Based on the Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge and the star she sewed while in space, former astronaut Karen Nyberg's Challenge Star quilt incorporates her Earth Views. (Image credit: Robert Kaufman Fabrics)

Nyberg's other new offerings include an endangered animals (opens in new tab) quilt appliqué wall hanging that features eight threatened species from around the world. They are portrayed in a circle, which represents Earth and "the connection between these animals' survival and the planet."

"It's a little bit more on the side of my style of textile arts," said Nyberg, who once created a stuffed dinosaur toy (opens in new tab) from the fabric scraps she found around the space station. "I hope folks will give it a give it a shot, and maybe even change up the colors."

Nyberg also collaborated with NASA engineer Sarah Ruiz to incorporate her Earth Views prints into a pattern inspired by the windows through which Nyberg viewed and photographed the planet. Their "Cupola Views" quilt captures the layout of the space station's seven-window cupola in a bold and geometric style.

"This design really is special to me. After all that time of seeing Earth from space through the cupola, and then seeing my prints, these beautiful, beautiful Earth views, through [those same] windows," said Nyberg.

All of the items in Nyberg's collection are made from 100% organic cotton, a detail that was important for her to highlight.

"It's better for planet Earth. It's better for the people that are making it," she said. "I'm hoping that being on 100% organic cotton and showing the beauty of Earth through the prints will really bring awareness to people about our Earth, the fragility of our Earth, the beauty of our Earth and the importance of our Earth."

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Robert Z. Pearlman
Robert Z. Pearlman

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.