The American astronaut Edgar Mitchell once described the earth from outer space as “a sparkling blue and white jewel,” a “light, delicate sky-blue sphere” outlined with “swirling veils of white” amidst a “thick sea of black mystery. ” Indeed, the earth in space looks like a lonely sphere with neighbors separated by vast distances other than its one moon. More importantly, one can barely recognize the subtle details of the planet’s geographical features except the wide oceans and its land mass surrounded by water.
From a distance, one cannot tell for certain that in that lonely planet lived billions of people going about their own ways day and night. If there are authorities who fit the role of describing the earth in space, no other groups of people can best fit that role other than the astronauts who for at least once or for a few times were able to catch a glimpse of our planet. Aleksei Lenov, a USSR astronaut, said that “the earth was absolutely round” while American astronaut Charles Walker’s attention was immediately caught by “a panorama of brilliant deep blue ocean” with “shades of green and grey and white” upon reaching outer space.
There are still countless others who had the rare opportunity to take a look at the earth from such a distance afforded by the outer space. In general, it can be said that the astronauts took much notice of the more general features of the earth, focusing on the earth as a whole and not in terms of the multitude of land and water varieties that comprise it on closer inspection. That perhaps owes up to the fact that the view of the earth from outer space barely gives the viewer a broader look at our planet.
Thus, the view of the earth in space only affords us several aspects of the earth to describe. For instance, one can easily recognize the seemingly boundless bodies of water occupying the larger regions of the earth. Take for instance the prominence of the Pacific Ocean as commonly illustrated in numerous books, magazines and scientific journals. Since much of the earth is covered in water, and much of the planet’s water comes from the Pacific Ocean, it is only expected from astronauts to immediately take notice of the Pacific.
Satellite images also reveal how almost a third of the earth is comprised of those vast quantities of sea water, thereby prompting observers to not fail to see the deep blue blanket of water surrounding the lands and the people. More importantly, perhaps it is only through the view from outer space are we able to see the drastic effects of every tree cut down and a whole range of rainforests razed by fires and human activities.
We may not be able to recognize the massive effect of these things right from the earth, but from outer space one may not fail to acknowledge the largeness of the scale of environmental degradations which have occurred through the years. It is only from that view from the outer space that we are able to see as well the vastness of the deserts that may soon become of the forests destroyed from cutting trees for daily human consumption.
Although astronauts say there are still “green” parts of the earth as the view from outer space reveals, it can hardly be denied that much of the parts of the earth have remained the same over the past years, especially when the view of the earth from the past is compared to what it is today. Indeed, the chance to view the earth from outer space is the chance of a lifetime as only a very few selected number of individuals are given that rare moment.
Moments like those experienced by the astronauts give us accounts of how our planet looks like, including its more general land, water and atmospheric features which, when taken altogether, offer a comprehensive understanding of the only “living” planet in the solar system thus far. Reference Hamilton, C. J. (1997). Earth from Space. Retrieved July 4, 2008, from http://www. solarviews. com/eng/earthsp. htm
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