Sally Ride's death today at age 61 from pancreatic cancer is being mourned around the world. If you believe the headlines, it's because Ride was the first American woman to fly in space.
But that's not Ride's biggest accomplishment. Her biggest accomplishment was teaching girls and women that the sky, literally, is the limit.
It may be hard for today's youth to imagine, but there was a time when many couldn't fathom women as pilots, much less astronauts.
When Ride became the first American woman to fly in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983, it shattered glass ceilings for millions of girls and women, helping redefine the role of the fairer sex.
On Monday, women of a certain age did their best to try to put Ride's cultural significance into context -- and to do so in 140 characters.
Perhaps Maria Shriver, California's former first lady, put it best. Shriver, who inducted Ride into the California Hall of Fame in 2006, tweeted Monday:
"Every time a woman dreams of conquering the next frontier, she will stand on Sally Ride's shoulders."
The Los Angeles Times' obituary editor, Claire Noland, reports that Ride died Monday at her home in La Jolla after battling pancreatic cancer. In addition to being an astronaut, Ride was a NASA advisor, taught at UC San Diego and launched a campaign to encourage kids -- girls, especially -- to embrace science.
She was chosen to be an astronaut in the late 1970s, beating out nearly 8,000 other candidates for the job.
"The nation has lost one of its finest leaders, teachers and explorers," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement Monday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Sally's family and the many she inspired. She will be missed, but her star will always shine brightly."
Here's the first of many Los Angeles Times stories today about Ride and her role in U.S. culture and the nation's space program. And here's a look at how she was being remembered Monday on Facebook and Twitter.