“Overview:” The Perspective-Altering Effect of Seeing Earth from Space

by Nancy Atkinson on December 7, 2012

For over 40 years, the ‘Blue Marble’ images of Earth taken from space have provided a new perspective of our planet, and the sometimes life-altering experience of such views was described in Frank White’s book “The Overview Effect,” published in 1987. When it came out, I gobbled it up, and have since read it several times.

Today, on the 40th anniversary of the final launch of the Apollo missions to the Moon, a new short film “Overview” has been released, which explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced first-hand seeing Earth from space.

“This view of the Earth from space – the whole Earth perspective – is, I think, the true symbol of this age,” says White in the film. “I believe … there’s going to be a greater and greater interest in communicating this idea because, after all, it’s key to our survival. We have to start acting as one species with one destiny. We are not going to survive if we don’t do that.”

The film is an inspiring look at how exploring space has given us look back at our own world and changed our perceptions. While some may say the Overview Effect is only a concept, an ideal outcome of space exploration that has yet to become a global phenomenon, I believe it is certainly something we should strive for.

The Blue Marble image from Apollo 17. Credit: Image courtesy NASA Johnson Space Center. See more info about it here.

The film includes:
Edgar Mitchell – Apollo 14 astronaut and founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences
Ron Garan – ISS astronaut and founder of humanitarian organization Fragile Oasis
Nicole Stott – Shuttle and ISS astronaut and member of Fragile Oasis
Jeff Hoffman – Shuttle astronaut and senior lecturer at MIT
Shane Kimbrough – Shuttle/ISS astronaut and Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army
Frank White – space theorist and author of the book ‘The Overview Effect’
David Loy- philosopher and author
David Beaver – philosopher and co-founder of The Overview Institute

It was produced by a group called Planetary Collective, specifically Guy Reid, Steve Kennedy and Christopher Ferstad.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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