The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface.
It refers to the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void", shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this "pale blue dot" becomes both obvious and imperative.
Third-hand observers of these individuals may also report a noticeable difference in attitude. Astronauts Ron Garan, Rusty Schweikart, Edgar Mitchell, Tom Jones, Scott Kelly, James Irwin, Mike Massimino and Chris Hadfield are all reported to have experienced the effect.
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