Saturday, December 5

Advantages and Disadvantages of Space Exploration

Outer space has been a subject of equal measure of elusiveness and excitement for human beings. We were all taught about the Earth and its surrounding atmosphere in our science lessons. And the information that we have acquired about everything beyond our sight could not have been possible without space explorations. So here is a look at some benefits of space exploration and some challenges faced in the process.

WHAT IS SPACE EXPLORATION?

Space exploration is a type of investigation of the cosmos beyond our Earth. This is using the assistance of certain instruments, for instance, a satellite, spacecraft, telescope, or launch vehicles. That is to say that space exploration is simply the use of technology to study outer space. We have an illustrious history of studying space and celestial bodies through astronomy. Everything we know about the Earth’s atmosphere has been conclusively studied and proved with the help of space study and exploration.

BRIEF HISTORY

In 1957, the first artificial satellite, the Soviet’s uncrewed Sputnik I (Satellite 1) orbited the Earth successfully. It was also the year the Soviets launched Sputnik 2, the satellite carrying a mongrel named Laika to orbit around the Earth. This Soviet space dog became one of the first animals in space. As a result, this paved the way for the possibility of human spaceflights. Subsequently, the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space in 1961. Soon after, in 1969, the United States of America sent astronauts to the moon, making Neil Armstrong the first human being to set foot on the moon. Meanwhile, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the USA also launched a number of space probes to study the surrounding planets of Mercury, Mars, and Venus. Several countries then moved onto launching space stations into the known solar system and orbit.

Over the years there have been successful as well as unsuccessful space endeavors undertaken. There has been a shift from competition among countries to cooperation and understanding with the launch of the International Space Station (ISS). Moreover, the concept of space tourism has come into existence since the 1990s with private companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic investing in the same. Other private companies like Space X and Boeing are also not behind with their rocket launches.

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Space Exploration
An example of a space shuttle taking off.

ADVANTAGES OF SPACE EXPLORATION

Resources

Space exploration is about uncovering the mysteries of what lies beyond our limited knowledge about the solar system. Among the many advantages of space exploration, one of the important ones is the opportunity to discover new resources for our benefit. For instance, exploring space can lead to the discovery of resources like minerals as well as fuel. As a result, there is a possibility of discovering fuel alternatives and other sources of energy. Such space expeditions can also help in attracting resources and asteroids for revenue generation. Another example is that exploring and studying the sun can help us in understanding how we can maximize our usage of solar energy on Earth. Hence, learning about space can help us live sustainable lives.

Research and Innovation

As we look through the brief history of space exploration, we realize that the advent of technology, research, and innovation has been a driving force for finding out solutions in the future. Space explorers have committed themselves to learning and researching about how the planets and the universe work. As a result, it has opened up new avenues of space science and technology. The close study of the impact of global warming on our atmosphere, surveying other planets for habitable areas, resources, predicting weather patterns through space satellites are only some examples of what space research has achieved. We have some cutting-edge technology now only because of our ability to innovate and adapt to the climate in space.

Inspires the Youth

Another important benefit of space exploration is it encourages students to pursue their further education in subjects like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In 2018, the UN Secretary-General launched an UN-wide ‘Youth 2030’ strategy to recognize, inter alia, young people’s positive contributions as agents of change. The main goal of this strategy was to give the youth the right platform for their ideas and innovations. This in turn can motivate the youth to take up careers in the field of space science and technology. This is a good thing because another advantage of space exploration is that it creates jobs. Places like NASA not only hire astronauts but also professionals from varied backgrounds. This includes engineers, mathematicians, analysts, designers, etc.

International Co-operation

Space exploration over the years has moved from competition among countries to cooperation between them. The International Space Station (ISS) is a collaborative space station between NASA (US), Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities (Russia), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Japan), European Space Agency (Europe), and Canadian Space Agency (Canada). It was established through intergovernmental treaties to bring together collective international research, international flight crews, communication networks, technologies, training, and multiple launch vehicles, among other things. As a result, new partnerships and opportunities are created with the aim of addressing global challenges. Further, the United Nations Office for Outer Space (UNOOSA) works with the 193 Member States. It aims at promoting international cooperation with the peaceful use and exploration of space.

Helps in Avoiding Disasters

Satellites stationed on the Earth’s orbit take up the role of analyzing the trajectory of various meteors and asteroids. This helps us keep track of any imminent danger to our planet. With this information, scientists can figure out a way to avoid asteroids from entering the Earth’s orbit in advance and diverting it. Therefore, this helps in avoiding any disasters.

DISADVANTAGES OF SPACE EXPLORATION

Expensive

One of the major drawbacks of space exploration is that it requires a lot of capital. Almost every aspect of launching a space program is certainly a costly affair. The state-of-the-art equipments, technology, the training for the scientists, – the money spent is befittingly, astronomical. Some have argued that it does in fact generate revenue, especially with space tourism becoming an actual reality. But the fact still remains that this is only for people who can afford the expensive trip to space while we have people on our planet dying of hunger.

Health Complications of Explorers

Space traveling can also have a negative impact on the health of a space explorer. The harsh living conditions in space have to certainly be taken into consideration as a disadvantage. Astronauts go through rigorous training where they are taught to acclimatize themselves to that climate. So proper protection against radiation, lesser gravity, and many other unstable circumstances have to be ensured for them.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Space Exploration

Harmful for the Environment

There are chances of bringing back harmful and hazardous elements into Earth which could cause a threat to living beings. Also, satellites and other space types of equipment leave behind space debris which stays in the Earth’s orbit. And unless we do something about it, it will continue to be in our orbit and could create problems in the future. Hence, efforts must be initiated to clean up the space junk to avoid in-orbital explosions. Certain studies have shown that debris can also affect space communication.

So to sum up, responsible space exploration should be the norm. Strides must be taken to minimize casualty, invest in smarter technology, as well as cut down on the expenditure.

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Pros and Cons

PROS

CONS

Resources

Expensive

Research and Innovation

Health Complications of Explorers

Inspires the Youth

Harmful for the Environment

International Co-operation
Helps in Avoiding Disasters