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Benefits of Deep Space Exploration



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"Benefits of Deep Space Exploration"
Caption: "Juno space probe at Jupiter (NASA)"
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Image by: NASA-National Aeronautics and Space Administration
© US-PD http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juno_space_probe.jpg

Deep space exploration can lower humanity's existential risk by locating habitable planets, moons, or asteroids for humans to inhabit before the Earth's capacity to sustain a growing population reaches its limit. In the near future the NASA Shuttle program, also called the 'Constellation program' is scheduled to be retired. NASA's funding is to be redirected into space science such as stronger launch rockets that will step closer to deep space exploration.

According to NASA's account of President Obama's space objectives, continued privatization of logistical areas of the aerospace industry will continue. It will do so by allowing private enterprise such as Virgin Galactic, Reaction Engines Limited and Rocketplane Kistler to innovate near Earth space travel, space tourism and space flight technology. Such being the case, NASA can better focus its funds on other aspects of space science geared toward deeper space objectives.

The benefits of deep space exploration are a function of long term economic, and social advantages as weighed against national concerns that affect the quality of life for a nation, or those affected by deep space exploration. The benefits of deep space exploration emerge from the pioneering of a growing field and industry, the innovations in technology that spawn new commercial enterprises, and the research and information that can eventually serve as the propellant that will launch humanity out of the information age and in to the space age.

Another benefit of deep space exploration is job creation, and when privatized in the future, can create business opportunities for venture capitalists, investors, scientists and other professionals such as Artificial Intelligence researchers, and robotic engineers. Deep space exploration also stimulates innovation and industrial development that can lead to profound economic advantages such as higher sector market share and increased competitiveness in the industry.

It can be argued that in the short term, multi-billion dollar financing of focused space technology and exploration may only benefit specific sectors of space exploration, especially when previous areas of aeronautical and space science such as NASA's Constellation program are shut down or reduced in size. Additionally, deep space exploration does not necessarily have effective benefits to a nation because those same funds can be used for more practical down to earth programs such as small business grants, or tax benefits that can help stimulate the economy and boost Gross Domestic Product to a far greater extent than an emphasis on deep space exploration can provide. In other words, using Government for business incentives can generate higher revenue for the Government and the nation's tax payers in the medium term.

It would seem advocates of deep space exploration believe one step forward, two steps back leads to greater leaps for mankind than smaller more economical steps. That is to say, a short term financial sacrifice of a $6 billion additional funds for NASA may yield a net benefit to humanity's future with all its intangibles and tangibles that far outweigh any immediate economic incentives that don't necessarily steer humanity away from Earth, but rather deeper within its environmental constraints and limitations. In fact, NASA itself points out its space research does actually have more immediate benefits to an economy through transferred technological innovation such as global communications systems, firefighter breathing systems and improved lightning protection for airlines.

Now a new period in space exploration is beginning, a period in human history in which longer term space missions, commercial enterprise, physical presence on asteroids, the Moon and Mars are being considered as real possibilities, some of which are planned to be implemented by the U.S. Government  by the 2030's. By maintaining research and development in the evolving field of space technology scientists can acquire greater knowledge of the solar system and beyond. For example, NASA's future Juno mission intends to discover more about planet formation, and NASA's Glory mission will seek out to better measure 'solar irradiance' from space in addition to other observations of matter and physics in space. These are the pre-cursors to humanitiy's future in space, a future in which the Earth will have become the origin of human civilization and not necessarily the last home humans occupy.

Source: http://www.nasa.gov

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