Photo courtesy: NASA/JPL
‘Children are dying of famine, and you want to invest in space?’, ‘Climate Change! Save our planet rather than explore other planets!’. Do these arguments sound familiar? I’m pretty sure they do since these arguments are mantras for every anti-space-exploration enthusiast. I myself am a pro-space exploration person and I’m glad I have a lot of company on this planet, but people who have a stance against space exploration have justified that using resources for issues we face on earth are more important than exploiting these scarce resources for surreal goals. Personally, I see why one would think in such a way and why it would not be irrational. Rather than allocating these billions of dollars on advancing the standard of living of the people below the poverty line, we choose to invest in space where it may go to a waste since everything is uncertain. Plus, these anti-space enthusiasts believe that we should not be tempted to let curiosity bring humanity to a dead end. However, I still believe that we should heavily invest in space in the coming years.
So what is about this challenging and unpredictable task of exploration that makes it so convincing? To understand the fruits of space exploration, it is vital we zoom into the bigger picture. You see, space exploration is not just about finding other planets to live in or finding other space occupants. Although these are a few major motives which we will talk about, the following are a few pushers that will help you form a broader perspective:
- Protection from asteroids: This is often overlooked when we talk about space research. An asteroid from space could kill millions or even potentially destroy our planet upon collision. Research and exploration would help us predict such catastrophes and take precautionary measures.
- Companies are willing to explore space for raw materials: The moon has abundant helium 3- a rare isotope that can be used for scientific research. Plus, the moon is a rich source of elements that can be used for electrical and solar purposes. This is a motive I frequently contemplate on as it is quite interesting because it gives a commercial incentive for space exploration.
- Increased security: International military observations are made through space technology that help nations across the world to ensure the protection of its subjects in periods of uncertainty and global military tensions.
- Curiosity: You expected this. It is in our human nature to sought out answers to questions that we do not understand. The ever expanding space imposes more questions than we can answer and the nature of these queries are so palpable that it demands intense curiosity from eager minds. This curiosity leads to reform, and reform leads to space exploration missions.
- Colonisation: We are facing more and more problems that threaten to extinguish our species as time passes. Climate Change would be a well-known concern that is, disappointingly, still neglected as fictitious by many politicians. Of course, there are various other methods that could tackle problems of this kind, such as reduced gasoline consumption and increased renewable energy programs, but it would be precautious to attempt in colonising other planets since such a planet could serve as an immediate alternative in the case of threatening emergencies. Heck, we have no idea what the hell space can do. Also, if humanity comes to a point where it is unable to sustain Earth, we would have no other choice other than to engage actively in space research and exploration.
However, this topic succeeds in remaining controversial in the mainstream media. Many conservatives won’t agree with what I am saying, but I see why they would not. Other issues such as famine and global poverty demands as much as human attention as space, but we need to allocate funds for exploration in order to sustain the effective functioning of humanity and also to progress and have a safeguard in times of uncertainty. International cooperation is paramount when it comes to space since every country needs to play a hand such that there is an effective division of funds and resources, leaving room for nations to concentrate on issues that demand recognition. The current scenario is quite favourable; private companies such as SpaceX are set to deploy interplanetary transport systems to Mars and NASA is more geared up for Mars than ever before. However, uncertainty in the current global political framework can halt scientific progressions for a long time, and just like space, causing unpredictability regarding our future in the field of space research.