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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly explains how seeing planet Earth from space changed his perspective on life

Richard Feloni
scott kelly selfie

NASA Johnson/Flickr

 

  • Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent 340 days in space aboard the International Space Station in 2015-2016, a trip that changed his DNA by 7%.
  • He told us that his space career also changed his perspective on life, making him more empathetic.
  • He wants more people to experience the life-changing effects of visiting space.

NASA revealed in March that after his year in space, astronaut Scott Kelly's DNA changed by a full 7%.

But when we recently interviewed him for Business Insider's podcast "Success! How I Did It," he said the experience changed him personally, as well.

"I think it makes you a more empathetic person," he said. "More in touch with humanity and who we are, and what we should do to not only to take care of the planet but also to solve our common problems, which clearly are many."

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Kelly retired in April 2016, after returning home from a 340-day trip aboard the International Space Station. It was his fourth and longest mission in space, and he was able to share the experience with the public using the internet. This included uploading some stunning photos that offer a small glimpse into his point about what it's like to see the entirety of Earth.

He explained:

"The planet is incredibly beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful. Having said that, parts of it are polluted, like with constant levels of pollution in certain parts of Asia. You see how fragile the atmosphere looks. It's very thin. It's almost like a thin contact lens over somebody's eye, and you realized all the pollutants we put into the atmosphere are contained in that very thin film over the surface. It's a little bit scary actually to look at it.

"And then you realize looking at the Earth, that despite its beauty and its tranquility, there's a lot of hardship and conflict that goes on. You look at the planet without borders, especially during the day. At night you can see countries with lights, but during the daytime it looks like we are all part of one spaceship, Spaceship Earth.

"And we're all flying through space together, as a team, and it gives you this perspective — people have described it as this 'orbital perspective' — on humanity, and you get this feeling that we just need to work better — much, much better — to solve our common problems."

earth atmosphere

NASA Johnson/Flickr

Kelly said that even though he's retired from flying missions, he wants to return to space again at some point. He's hopeful that one day flying into space will be as commonplace for the average person as getting onto an airplane. And with it will be the sharing of this new perspective.

"I think it's a privilege to do it, and I think it changes people for the better, having that experience," he said.

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SEE ALSO: NASA astronaut Scott Kelly — whose DNA changed after a year in space — talks about his underachieving childhood, his identical twin and fellow astronaut brother, and how leaving Earth changes people for the better