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Timelapse video showing orbit from northwest coast of United States to central South America at night

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.[1][2][3][4][5]

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.[5]

Third-hand observers of these individuals may also report a noticeable difference in attitude.[5] Astronauts Ron Garan (Ted Talk on YouTube: TedxVienna - Ron Garan - The Orbital Perspective of Our Fragile Oasis) Rusty Schweikart,[5] Edgar Mitchell,[5] Tom Jones,[5] and Mike Massimino[6] are all reported to have experienced the effect.

The term and concept were coined in 1987 by Frank White, who explored the theme in his book The Overview Effect — Space Exploration and Human Evolution (Houghton-Mifflin, 1987), (AIAA, 1998).[7] The overview effect has been considered to be one of the stimuli that led to the Gaia hypothesis.[citation needed]

An article claims the environmental protection movement was inspired by NASA's Earthrise (and another) photograph.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Douglas A. Vakoch (6 July 2011). Psychology of Space Exploration: Contemporary Research in Historical Perspective. Government Printing Office. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-0-16-088358-3. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Albert A. Harrison (1 April 2007). Starstruck: Cosmic Visions in Science, Religion, and Folklore. Berghahn Books. pp. 92–. ISBN 978-1-84545-286-5. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Douglas A. Vakoch. On Orbit and Beyond. Springer. pp. 10–. ISBN 978-3-642-30583-2. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Space Euphoria: Do Our Brains Change When We Travel in Outer Space?", Daily Galaxy, 2008-05-20
  5. ^ a b c d e f The Human Brain in Space: Euphoria and the “Overview Effect” Experienced by Astronauts, Ian O'Neill, Universe Today, 2008-05-22
  6. ^ "StarTalk Live at the Bell House, The Astronaut Session", Star Talk Radio, 2012-01-29, [1]
  7. ^ "Space Tourism: Face Time with Earth", Leonard David, Senior Space Writer,, 2006-08-05, Space-ecotourism
  8. ^ "Earthrise: The Photo that Launched a Movement". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2015-11-05. 

External linksEdit