Google paid tribute to America's first woman in space with a series of five animated "Doodles" appearing on its website Tuesday.
The whimsical scenes, displayed one at a time, randomly, with each refresh of the page, are timed to celebrate what would have been Sally Ride's birthday. Born on May 26, 1951, Ride died on July 23, 2012, from pancreatic cancer.
"Sally Ride, who would have been 64 today, captured the nation's imagination as a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers," wrote Tam O'Shaughnessy, CEO of Sally Ride Science and Ride's life partner, in a guest essay that accompanies the Doodles on Google's website. [Pictures of Sally Ride, the First American Woman in Space]
Ride launched on NASA's STS-7 mission on board space shuttle Challenger on June 18, 1983. The first U.S. female astronaut to fly into space, she was only the third woman worldwide to orbit the Earth, after two Soviet cosmonauts, Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.
"Looking back at Earth through the window of the space shuttle, Sally was moved by the view of our beautiful blue planet wrapped in its thin blanket of air," O'Shaughnessy described. "She realized how important it is for all of us to take care of our fragile home in space."
After a second space shuttle flight in 1984 and a brief stint at NASA Headquarters, Ride left the agency to become a physics professor and a champion for improving science education. With O'Shaughnessy, Ride founded Sally Ride Science to motivate children to pursue careers in science, math and technology.
"She loved being a scientist, but she was concerned that many young people, especially girls and minority students abandon their early interest in science and math," stated O'Shaughnessy.
Click through to collectSPACE to see all five Sally Ride Google Doodles and watch a video about the making of the animations.