Launched in 1998 and orbiting Earth at about 17,500mph, the International Space Station is arguably one of humankind’s greatest achievements in space exploration since landing astronauts on the moon. With a sophisticated laboratory on board for scientific and technological research, the ISS also holds the record for the longest continuous occupation of crew members at 14 years (and running).
But research aside, the ISS provides us Earth dwelling members with some much needed perspective. While our leaders greedily compete for scarce natural resources, jockey for geopolitical turf, and spend trillions of dollars on needless wars, its hapless citizens obsess over the attention seeking antics of its entertainers. Although its understandable why Miley Cyrus’ tongue flailing antics offer the levity we need after a grueling week of work where needling bosses and office gossips consume most of our days, the solution to most of our abrasive human pettiness just might lie in spending more time thinking about and looking up toward the stars.
Case in point, this time-lapsed video of Earth captured by the ISS. Watching the panoramic view of Earth’s orbit, I can’t help but not sense the shallowness of most human activity. Seeing entire continents sparkle with lightening, entire regions aglow with the swirling greenish tint of the Northern lights, and swaths of land illuminated by grids of electrical light highlighting the encroaching vastness of human activity, my feelings of awe and wonder quickly turn into a call for collective unity toward greater scientific and technological pursuits. Perhaps if we turn our attention more to the mysteries of space currently being explored by scientists, astronauts, and engineers, we can set aside some of our differences, focusing instead on honing our minds toward what lies beyond our immediate interstellar surroundings.