Forwarded from Ludovica Valentini:
THE “OVERVIEW EFFECT” AND BEYOND
By Ludovica Valentini, Remote Engineer
It was a crisp night in the Hab, the sky was surprisingly clear again
after many Sols of dust storms, and the stars were burning so bright.
Without thinking twice, the Areonauts headed to the observatory to
enjoy some sky watching. Everyone was so excited, it was their first
such chance during their newly started mission on Mars.
The crew got equipped and prepared the telescope so that the show
could finally begin. The Areonauts first pointed the lenses to the
Mars’ moon Phobos, and everyone was amazed to see the tiny details on
its surface. They took pictures of the craters while discussing what
to admire next. The time came to have a look at the second Martian
moon Deimos, then they let themselves hypnotize by the beauty of the
Milky Way painted across the sky, stretching from horizon to horizon.
The Areonauts were appreciating the charm of the Martian night sky,
someone was shooting photos, someone else admiring the sky and sharing
their excitement, until suddenly it got all silent…
A timeless moment, a breathtaking view, no words to express the
profound feelings invading their bodies. Still holding their breath,
they could look into each other’s eyes and recognize the same thrill.
The telescope was pointing right at their beloved Blue Marble. A
nostalgic moment that goes beyond words, and almost impossible to
convey. It was the experience itself of seeing the Earth standing out
from the pitch-black universe, that one cannot explain.
Memories started to come to their minds of when they first left the
Earth and for the first time, they looked down at their home planet
from above. In that precise moment, something happened in their minds,
and their perception of the Earth and of life started to change. That
Blue Dot surrounded by its strikingly thin atmosphere looked so
beautiful, and so fragile at the same time. There were no drawn
boundaries, no differences, no reasons for hate nor wars, everything
was just a continuous flow of marvelous lands, seas, and dancing
clouds, everything in constant change, and for this reason, unique
every time. The more the time was passing, the more these feelings
were growing profoundly in the crew while they were traveling to Mars.
By the time the Areonauts were approaching Mars, the Earth had become
just a tiny dot in the sky, home had never been so far. As soon as
they stepped foot on the Red Planet, the Areonauts worked hard to
settle in and launch their research programs. Days went by, but no one
would miss their daily glance at that Blue Dot in the sky, until the
weather got worse. Intense dust storms arrived, and the crew had to
cope with operational complications, some of their research being
paused, and to make matters worse, their little light in the sky had
disappeared behind a thick red blanket surrounding the Hab, for many
In the moment they could see that familiar appearance again through
the telescope, everything rewound in their minds back to when they
first experienced that breathless feeling. But this time, it felt
different. The Earth was not taking up most of their view anymore, to
the contrary they could barely discern it with the naked eye. This
time, it was beyond their first experience, this time, they could
observe their Earth as part of the universe. That opened up a
completely new perspective and new questions started to arise in the
Areonauts’ minds. They did not have the answers, yet, but one thing
they knew, those experiences had intensely changed their views and
they felt it their duty to share it once back to their dear Earth.
Never more than today, the so-called “overview effect”, a term coined
in 1987 by Frank White in the homonymous book, should be brought down
to the Earth and spread. The “overview effect” is the beginning of a
shift in your mindset as you move further away from the Earth’s
surface, it is a change in awareness and in the way you see our Earth.
We are part of this complex system, and we are all interconnected to
anything else in it, despite all the differences, or better, this big
machine does work thanks to this diversity. After all, we are all in
this together, aboard this giant and precious ship sailing an immense
ocean, while exploring new horizons, and aiming at the same
destination, a flourishing future for mankind and our home planet(s).