Out of the billions of people on Earth, only a few hundred have ventured out past the bounds of our atmosphere into space. Iconic Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder recently reflected on this “incredibly rare” perspective to see Earth from space in a call with astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.
In the call, Vedder chatted with NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer in celebration of Earth Day 2022.
Vande Hei, who just returned to Earth after a record-breaking 355 days in space, was still aboard the orbital outpost when the video was recorded, and he shared some poignant thoughts about our planet with Vedder. “So when you’re standing on the Earth and looking up, you are in outer space. You’re just at the bottom of this little puddle of air, and it’s so important to protect it and take care of it,” Vande Hei told Vedder.
While Pearl Jam might not be the first thing you think of this Earth Day, this isn’t Vedder’s first foray with NASA. He recently collaborated with the space agency to deliver an Artemis 1 moon rocket music video featuring music from his new solo record “Earthling.”
Vedder has looked up to the stars for musical inspiration in the past as well. Lyrics on Pearl Jam’s last record, “Gigaton,” features a trip to the Red Planet, for example, as well as a song titled “Superblood Wolfmoon.” The band even created a “Space Invaders”-style game to promote the record.
At the start of the video interview with the astronaut crew, Vedder asks: “If there are any lessons you can recommend to us down here on Earth.” In response, Chari said: I think one of the lessons learned is that there’s no borders up here. And so it’s actually surprisingly hard to figure out where you’re at over the earth, because it’s all land and water.”
Along with the Vedder-astronaut chat, the video features incredible imagery of Earth from the crew’s viewpoint, approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.
With Earth day at the forefront, the conversation turned to the fragility of our planet. Maurer mentioned how Brazil’s rainforests are “getting smaller and smaller in the area where people live,” while human-made agriculture is “getting bigger and bigger.” The Amazon rainforest is burned to create more land for agriculture and the fires can be seen from space. “Between 40,000 and 73,400 square miles of Amazon rainforest have been impacted by fires,” according to a University of Arizona study from 2021.
Vedder was moved by the conversation, stating that he “didn’t realize how emotional it was going to be” and adding: “I think because I wanted to be an astronaut ever since I was a kid.”
Barron thanked Vedder for “helping carry our awesome message for exploring not only our own planet, but the moon, Mars and all the awesome research we’re doing,” she said.
Eddie Vedder’s “Earthling” tour has wrapped up, but you can still catch the rocker with Pearl Jam on their recently re-scheduled “Gigaton” tour, coming soon to a theater near you in Europe and the United States.