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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The perspective space provides is essential during these troubled times.

Why it matters: Astronauts live in isolation and look down on our planet with a view that can bring people out of their own experiences, especially during times of extreme and shocking change.

  • 43% of people surveyed as part of our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index this week said their emotional and mental health has worsened lately.
"It can be nice to remember that there's a big wide universe out there and that we are not important to it. There's this great beauty in the world and in the universe that you can access even when things are terrible."
— Astronomer Katie Mack to Axios

As people around the U.S. are stuck in their homes, worrying about keeping their loved ones safe from the novel coronavirus and what tomorrow might bring, a little inspiration might do everyone some good.

  • So get outside and look up at the stars with your neighbors (staying at least six feet away from one another, of course).
  • Find out the current phase of the Moon and check it out when it rises above you.
  • Track the International Space Station or other satellites flying overhead.

What they're saying: Astronauts themselves also have some key advice for people attempting to make it through what could be months of isolation.

  • Scott Kelly — who spent nearly a year on the International Space Station — suggests that people working from home and quarantined need to follow a routine to try to foster a sense of normalcy under extraordinary circumstances.
  • "One of the side effects of seeing Earth from the perspective of space, at least for me, is feeling more compassion for others," Kelly wrote in the New York Times. "As helpless as we may feel stuck inside our homes, there are always things we can do."
  • NASA's Anne McClain detailed the space agency's five skills that keep isolated groups functioning in a healthy way, including good communication, self-care, leadership and team care.
  • Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield pointed out that if astronauts on the station — an extremely dangerous environment — can learn how to be productive under those conditions, people self-isolating on Earth can too.

The bottom line: During these anxiety-filled times, everyone deserves a break from the current moment, and space can provide a helpful perspective.

Go deeper: Astronomers capture Earth's atmosphere glowing from space

Go deeper

Biden's pick to lead major banking regulator drops out

Saule Omarova, nominee for Comptroller of the Currency, at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 18. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Biden's pick to head one of the country's most powerful banking regulators is dropping out of consideration for the post, according to a statement from Biden that accepted the withdrawal.

Why it matters: Saule Omarova, nominated to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, faced a tough path to confirmation — with opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats.

Judge temporarily blocks Biden vaccine mandate for federal contractors

Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Biden's vaccine mandate for federal contractors nationwide.

Why it matters: It's the latest setback in the Biden administration's rollout of COVID-19 vaccine requirements. Federal judges in two states temporarily barred the administration from enforcing mandates for millions of workers last week.

Biden threatens Putin

Photo: Kremlin Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a video call that lasted for just over two hours on Tuesday, President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine the U.S. will impose unprecedented sanctions and provide additional weaponry to the Ukrainians, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said.

Why it matters: Russia's military activity on the border with Ukraine has triggered alarms from the U.S. and its European allies of a potential large-scale Russian invasion in early 2022. Sullivan said Biden made clear to Putin that, "things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now."