This is a view of Earth on Christmas morning, blending archival imagery of Earth’s surface from the MODIS instruments on NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites with hot-off-the-spacecraft weather data from NOAA’s GOES-East satellite. You can see clouds streaming over the southeastern U.S. That’s the storm front that brought a white Christmas to the Southwest; now it’s bringing a soggy holiday to a region from Texas to Georgia.
The world looks so peaceful from orbital heights. In fact, there’s a name for the positive change in perspective that comes over astronauts when they see Earth from far above: the Overview Effect. Here’s how the effect is described by the Overview Institute:
“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, the astronauts tell us, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide us 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. Even more so, many of them tell us that from the Overview perspective, all of this seems imminently achievable, if only more people could have the experience!”