Leaving Earth, even for a short while, has been known to change people forever. The sight of our planet from a distance has inspired spiritual epiphanies in some space travelers. Others have come home with a fresh appreciation for Earth’s beauty and a renewed determination to preserve it. British astronaut and chemist Helen Sharman was only on the Mir space station for eight days in May 1991, but the experience has lived on in her dreams for decades.

Sharman’s dreams of adventure come to life in this video, which was animated by Andrew Khosravani, animator-in-residence at the UK’s Royal Institution. The video made its debut December 1 as the first day of the Royal Institution's space-themed advent calendar.

In one dream Sharman floats down a very long module on the Mir and takes in the beauty of the Earth from a window alongside her fellow astronauts. When she awakes, "I'm always very disappointed that I've woken up, because I wanted to be back in space," she says.

The British space program is small, to say the least. Sharman’s trip nearly 25 years ago made her the first-ever British astronaut. This month, Tim Peake—who recently announced his plans to run the London marathon from space—will become the second. The program’s inadequate funding is a source of frustration for Sharman, who calls it a “tremendous disappointment.” 

Speaking to the Guardian, Sharman quoted British-Sir Lankan science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke: “[He] once said that when an organism stops pushing its boundaries forward, it starts to die. We should be pushing our boundaries. After all, we Britons are explorers and adventurers.” 

Banner image courtesy of the Royal Institution