Astronauts have an advantage over us on earth and that is looking down at the earth. Described as a “cognitive shift in awareness”, there have been many instances of astronauts reporting a complete mind shift viewing Earth from this vantage point.
Equal amounts of awe and equal amounts of fragility strike astronauts as they realize Earth is only protected from space by a thin layer of atmospheric gas.
Spoons Are Almost Impossible in Space
Earthlings take for granted so many things that are made possible with gravity. When you take it away, it creates a near-impossible environment within a space station. Spoons can barely hold the same volume of food as on earth and using them is a balancing act.
Just the right amount of food must be scooped and if an astronaut raises the spoon too quickly, all the contents will quickly go flying. The same goes for if one astronaut bumps another. Truly a case of no elbows on the table.
The View Does Not Change
The night sky has dazzled humans for eons. Astronauts share the same view as people on earth and will see the exact same stars – not more.
The only advantage astronauts have is that the stars are seen without the obfuscation of Earth’s atmosphere, therefore making the stars appear far more brilliant and brighter. One astronaut said it would be the same view for someone in the space station as for someone to climb on a mountaintop on a clear night and simply look up.
Although NASA was almost certain that no life could inhabit the vacuum of space, they took no chances when Apollo 11 made its descent to earth and promptly put the astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins – into quarantine for three whole weeks.
While having no actual data or theories as to what bacteria could have been brought back, NASA was taking no chances. Luckily, lunar germs were not brought back.
A World Without Borders
One striking psychological shift astronauts undergo is witnessing the lack of true, tangible borders.
German astronaut Alexander Gerst recounted that when seeing explosions happening on earth as a result of bombings, humans accept this as a “given but appear very different from an our [astronauts’] perspective.” Alexander further elaborated that we would not be able to explain to aliens why we allow this.