As the coronavirus marched steadily across the globe earlier this year, astronaut Jessica Meir, while aboard the International Space Station with two others, found herself in a peculiar position.

"We were the only three people that were immune to it at that moment, and that felt very strange," Meir said from her home in Houston, TX.

Experiencing that kind of profound change on Earth, while looking at the planet from above, is something very few humans can relate to. In fact, maybe just two others: Frank Culbertson — the only American aboard the ISS on 9/11, and Sergei Krikalev — the cosmonaut who was aboard the MIR space station in December 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.

"But this one especially, because it’s something that truly affected the entire planet. No country, no person is really immune from it. So it was really a lot for us to think about from up there," said Meir, who is originally from Caribou, Maine, and worked as a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston prior to becoming an astronaut.

It was an unexpected twist in Meir’s first trip to space — one during which she participated in the first ever all-female spacewalklast October. But her history-making turn was only one aspect of her 205-day mission, before it was cut short last month. More space walks, and hundreds of experiments, were also on the docket.

"We were still going about exactly our same schedule and we were very busy," Meir said. "Of course, the lives of everybody on the ground were changing. If nobody directly told us, we wouldn’t have even known anything was different."

But they did know. And then, the schedule that Meir said brought such comfort and clarity to her days called for her to return to Earth.

"I think it was quite difficult to understand how truly we were going back to a different planet," she said.

Just how different things were became immediately clear when the hatch of their craft was opened in the landing field in Kazakhstan. The support crew all wore masks.

Upon return to NASA headquarters in Houston, there was a week-long quarantine. And contact with the people there was significantly limited for the debriefs and physiological testing that typically happen after a space mission.

"Our immune system is actually dysregulated in space," she explained. "If we were to come into contact with COVID then, we might not be able to fight it off as well. They, at NASA, put together a really robust plan to make sure and keep us safe."

Meir’s been back for about a month now and is socially distancing at her home in Houston — having traded a kind of isolation few of us will ever experience for one so many of us have become all too familiar with in recent weeks.

"For me, isolation, it’s not a big deal in space. It’s just a part of the job up there, so you expect it," she said. "As far as being isolated, I can feel that much more here on Earth. It’s much more difficult here."

Meir said she didn’t want to return, not because of the coronavirus, but because she relished living in space — and how quickly it came to feel like home.

"It starts feeling normal," she explained. "Floating feels normal and looking down at the earth — every time, you appreciate it just as much — but you start expecting that to be the view. I’m trying to make sure that I look at photos and look at videos and try to remember and capture what it was really like and how it felt, so I don’t lose it."

And yet, she said, her near seven-month stay on the ISS is already starting to feel a little like it was all just a dream.

And perhaps there is something instructive in that for all of us. A few months ago, who could have imagined the world as we’re living it now? Yet, here we are. And as we stare into an uncertain future, Meir’s experience is a reminder that if there’s one thing humans have always done — whether we want to or not — it's adapt.