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Is this the flag that could represent Earth to the stars?

A design student's graduation project proposal: a flag to unite the world as humans.

Michelle Starr Science editor
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
2 min read

How the newly proposed Earth flag would appear in the traditional NASA astronaut portrait. Oskar Pernefeldt

When we send our cosmonauts up into space, they bear proud emblem of their home countries: a flag on the sleeve of their space suits as they travel far beyond all terrestrial borders.

The proposed flag to represent Earth. Oskar Pernefeldt

As we extend our presence farther into the solar system (NASA plans to have humans on Mars sometime in the 2030s) perhaps it would be more appropriate to unite under a common banner. At least, that's the belief of Oskar Pernefeldt, a graduate of Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden.

For his graduate project unveiled earlier this week, Pernefeldt designed a flag to represent Earth as a whole.

"Current expeditions in outer space use different national flags depending on which country is funding the voyage. The space travelers, however, are more than just representatives of their own countries. They are representatives of planet Earth," he wrote on the project's website.

The flag might look simple, but the design elements disguise a symbolic complexity. The seven interlocked circles of silver on a field of azure blue were chosen according to the principles, rules and customs of vexillography (the art of designing flags).

"Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower -- a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked," Pernefeldt wrote.

"The blue field represents water which is essential for life -- also as the oceans cover most of our planet's surface. The flower's outer rings form a circle which could be seen as a symbol of Earth as a planet and the blue surface could represent the universe."

A photoshopped image of planting the flag on the surface of Mars. Oskar Pernefeldt

Its purpose is not, however, limited to space travel. Pernefeldt believes it could also be used here on Earth, to remind us that we are all of this one planet.

This is a feeling with which many astronauts are already familiar, thanks to a phenomenon known as the overview effect: upon observing the Earth from space, some astronauts report a profound feeling of global community, that all humans are connected.

Pernefeldt's project is just that, a project, but that's not to say that the Earth won't have its own united flag someday. What do you think of Pernefeldt's efforts? What kind of flag would you design? Take a look at the flag design principles and let us know in the comments below.