LONGUEUIL, Que. - Earthbound star gazers may have had their eyes fixed on the moon this week, but Canadian astronaut Julie Payette never gets tired of staring down at Earth from the International Space Station.

"The planet is beautiful," Payette said Tuesday during a live broadcast in response to a question posted on YouTube.

"It's a magnificent sight. It is like a marvel down there of blues and whites."

Most of the attention this week has been on the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing by American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on July 20, 1969.

But Payette was focused on Earth as she and three fellow U.S. astronauts from the Space Shuttle Endeavour took turns answering questions posted on YouTube, mostly from children and teenagers.

The questions were posted in the form of short video clips well before last week's launch of the American space shuttle which is on a 16-day mission to the space station.

Payette joined Mark Polansky, the shuttle commander, pilot Doug Hurley, and space walker David Wolf, during the broadcast more than 321 kilometres above Earth.

Payette is visiting fellow Canadian Bob Thirsk who is spending six months on the giant orbiting space lab and is expected to return in November.

Thirsk has already spent seven weeks circling the Earth and performing a number of experiments which include studying the effects of weightlessness.

Payette says those now on the space station get to see every continent and all of the oceans as the spacecraft goes around the Earth every 90 minutes.

"This is something you can never ever get tired of doing while in space," the mother of two boys said.

There are currently 13 crew members at the space station - seven visiting from the shuttle and six living at the station.

Asked during the NASA TV broadcast what it's like to be in space, Payette responded that it's "the best job on Earth."

"Living in space is living in a small habitat with a lot of people and sharing that space with them. It is working in weightlessness and pushing yourself off the walls."

Payette is expected to return to Earth on July 31.

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