Astronauts explain the "overview effect"

Seeing Earth from space for the first time is so riveting, there's a special name for it. NASA astronauts describe the experience. 😲

What it’s like to see Earth from space

“It is a very unique experience viewing our planet from space.” A particular sensation happens when astronauts first see Earth from space. It’s called the overview effect — a shift in awareness in which the astronaut is awed by the Earth. “I just remember just kind of this instant sense of all in seeing Earth from space that way.”

Retired NASA astronauts Nicole Stott and Mike Massimino describe that profound feeling

Nicole Stott explained to Brut, “I tried to describe it to my son, who was 7 when I flew the first time. And the best way that I could think to do that just kind of the visual of it was to say to him, you know, imagine you're looking at the brightest light bulb you've ever seen and you splatter it with all the colors that, you know, earth to be. And you turn it on and it's like you almost you know, you almost can't look at it because it's just so stunning, so glowing and bright and vibrant. And that's what looking at Earth was like. It was like this bright light bulb of earthly colors. And it always glowed.”

Mike Massimino stated, “My first reaction was, this is too beautiful for people to look at and we're not meant to see this, it's like a secret actually turned my head. And then I realized that that was probably not the right thing to do because I was here in space. I should continue to look at the planet. So, I looked back and then I got a bit emotional and I started to tear up a little bit just from the beauty of our planet.”

Massimino’s first spaceflight was in 2002, and Stott’s first space mission was in 2009

“My first flight was what we would call a long duration mission. I spent a little over three months on the International Space Station.”, Stott revealed. Having a general overview of the Earth in motion is always fascinating. “I felt like I was looking into an absolute paradise.”, Massimino shared.

But their concern for climate change has enhanced after their experiences

Massimino confessed, “If there's lake beds that are drying up, if there's the rain forest starting to disappear, signs of pollution… You can see those from space. But the other thing that we've learned is that if we do a good job in trying to take care of our planet, the planet can heal itself. And we can see that in observations from space. But we need to give our planet a chance to recover.”

“When it comes to planet Earth, I want people to be aware that we are on a planet. Your planet is your spaceship. It provides you with all the life support you need. And we have to choose to live like crew members on this ship so that we can all survive and thrive.”, Stott concluded.