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An Astronauts’ View of Earth Could Change Us All

8 Nov 2013, 21:22 UTC
An Astronauts’ View of Earth Could Change Us All NASA
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The "overview effect" profoundly changes the way space travelers view our planet. How can everyone experience it?

Astronauts have a unique perspective of Earth’s thin atmosphere. Image: NASA
“Thank you for coming to my personal therapy session,” former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria joked at yesterday’s discussion on the “overview effect” at the National Air and Space Museum. He explained that people like himself, a Navy pilot, and fellow panelist Sandy Magnus, who has a PhD in materials science and engineering, are chosen by NASA to be astronauts largely for their technical skill, not their ability to “communicate touchy-feely things.” Which makes it difficult to translate the profound psychological effect that seeing Earth from above has on a person. (Or as Jodie Foster’s Ellie Arroway remarks, “They should have sent a poet.“)
The event began with a showing of Overview, a documentary on the effect released last year by the Planetary Collective. The 20-minute film, viewed nearly four million times, was a stepping stone to their upcoming feature-length documentary, Continuum, about our “interconnection with each other, the planet, and the universe.”

It’s all a bit lovey-dovey, but astronauts who have gone to orbit over the last half-century have made it clear ...

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