Tapestry

'It's really not that big a place': How seeing Earth from space changes your perspective

Retired astronaut Nicole Stott reflects on the life-changing experience of seeing your home planet from far, far away -- and why so many astronauts are forever changed when they come back to Earth.
Nicole Stott painting while aboard the International Space Station in 2009. Six years later, Stott left NASA to become a full-time artist. (Robert Thirsk)
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When she was aboard the International Space Station, Nicole Stott found she had to set a timer on her watch when she went to look out the window, lest she spend hours captivated by the view. 

Like many astronauts, Stott experienced the phenomenon known as the overview effect: a fundamental change in perspective gained from seeing the Earth from space. 

"It's really not that big a place," she told Tapestry host Mary Hynes. "It gives you this renewed appreciation for Earth as a place that takes care of us, and also for all of those other living creatures that we share it with."

Stott was the first astronaut to paint in space, and what was once her hobby has now become a full-time pursuit. Stott says it's her way of trying to share her experience in outer space with the world. 

To hear more from Nicole Stott, click Listen. And to read more about the overview effect, check out our digital feature