What does Earth look like from space? Perhaps it’s easy to take that view for granted if you’ve watched enough videos… but imagine for a moment that you are watching it from a small window in a house-sized vehicle orbiting between 330 – 410 kilometers (205 – 255 miles) above Earth, traveling at an average of 17,227 miles per hour… that’s around 15.7 orbits per day.

When astronauts and cosmonauts see and feel this view in person, they are awestruck by the realization that the human species and everything we’ve ever known exists on a fragile blue marble surrounded by the vast darkness. This is called The Overview Effect. From The Royal Institution:

The view of Earth from space is one that few of us will ever get to experience. To see the planet as a single orb in the expanse of space can change the way you feel about your life, our species, and our place in the universe. It’s an experience currently reserved for the fortunate few who carry the torch of humanity into space.

Helen Sharman, Daniel Tani, Michael Barratt, and Jean-Francois Clervoy recall that moment when they first set eyes on our blue planet from above.

Explore the Overview Effect in videos on this site, including Planet Earth in 4K and Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, animated.

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