There’s no doubt that planet Earth is awe-inspiring. That’s even more true for the handful of humans who’ve seen it from space with their own eyes.
“We tend to think of ourselves as a weird, tiny little human being on a very large, powerful planet, and therefore clearly irrelevant to anything that might affect the planet at a planetary scale,” says former NASA astronaut Kathryn Sullivan, who in 1984 became the first U.S. woman to walk in space. “In some ways that’s true. But if you step back and look at the planet in total, you see how richly interconnected and intertwined all the actual systems are.”Cool Stuff Cool Stuff Cool Stuff Cool Stuff Cool Stuff
Even with all its magnificence and majesty, Earth is also just kind of strange. Aside from the fact that it’s the only planet known (so far) to support life, it has a bunch of inherent quirks, from geophysical weirdness to the landscapes adorning its surface to the organisms it supports. And the more we learn about Earth’s peculiarities, the more we grow to appreciate and treasure its many wonders—starting with the air we breathe.
“You look back at the Earth and that huge majestic ocean, [the atmosphere is] a lot more like the fuzz on a tennis ball than some big massive thing,” Sullivan says. “It’s like the wall of a soap bubble, this little membrane that envelops this grain of rock and is the reason that critters like us can live.”