How Can Space Exploration Benefit Humanity?

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Table of contents

  1. Why should we start on the moon?
  2. How to get started on a Moon Base
  3. Exploiting the Moon’s Resource
  4. Creating a colony on the moon
  5. Reference List

The planet in which we live in, is a beautiful miracle of nature. Ever since we started studying the universe, we still haven’t encountered another planet like Earth, able to support life. Unfortunately however, our beautiful world is not without problems. The more we learn about it, the more we understand that humans will have to overcome obstacles in order to ensure their continuity and further development. We have been able to solve some of the problems we have encountered so far with the tools that are offered to us by our planet, but some modern and critical problems require a much more radical approach. The universe is a vast entity, full of resources we can exploit, but because of its sheer size, we will probably never entirely explore it. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t use what’s available in close proximity to us. Considering we managed to set foot on the Moon almost 60 years ago, right now we definitely possess the necessary technology and knowledge to start using what the moon can offer us for our benefit ([1] ) .The reason why we still have not done that yet, is because the powerful nations would rather spend billions of dollars on weapons of mass destruction than investing into something that benefits the entire population ([1]Woody, C ). Up until now, the investment that has gone to Space Exploration, albeit modest, has not only benefited the scientific community, but the world as well .

  1. Water purification,
  2. Global-Scale Communication,
  3. High-Precision robotic arms able to operate critical tumors,
  4. Detection of natural disasters before their occurrence,
  5. Global Water Management,
  6. Improved indoor air quality,

All of the above have come as a product of research associated with space exploration. These were almost entirely achieved by the United States Space Program alone. NASA has been able to aid humanity with so many solutions to our everyday life problems with only 3% of the U.S military budget ([9]). Through higher funding, Space Exploration can offer us way more([2]).This research will analyze how a bigger budget on Space Exploration will impact our lives, with a focus on the benefits coming from colonizing the moon.

Why should we start on the moon?

At first glance, the moon doesn’t seem like a good choice. Its landscape is comparable to a desert, and there is no atmosphere. Because of the lack of atmosphere, there is nothing to shield the surface from the powerful heat waves coming from the sun. That is why the temperatures can vary from over 120 degrees Celsius during the lunar day, to less than -170 degrees Celsius during the lunar night. These conditions make the moon a very dangerous environment for humans, totally incapable of supporting life. If we were only looking for appropriate conditions to colonize a planet, then Mars would probably be the ideal choice. Unlike the moon, Mars has got an atmosphere, and much softer temperature extremes. The reason why starting our first colony on an extraterrestrial planet on Mars is a bad idea, is because of its proximity to earth.

We can reach the moon within days using a space ship. This makes the transportation of resources easier, and it also makes the rate of the development of the first colony faster. The relatively close distance also makes it ideal for emergency situations, in which quick and decisive actions are required. Mars on the other hand, is months away from earth. This means that round trips are too expensive, inefficient and very consuming time-wise.

But there is also another great reason why the moon is the ideal choice when it comes to our first extraterrestrial colony, and that is communication. The fastest way in which humans can communicate with each-other, is through electro-magnetic waves, which travel at the speed of light. Light only takes 1.3 seconds to reach the Moon from the Earth, while it needs between 10 and 40 minutes to reach Mars. This is a time-span which is way too long to provide an acceptable level of communication.

Alternatively, the small time span offered by the moon, is sufficient to build a satisfactory communication bridge between our Planet and our Colony. The near real-time communication also makes possible the use of remotely controlled machines. This means that during the early stages of the colony, humans wouldn’t have to be on the moon at all times, because robots will be able to compensate for their absence.

How to get started on a Moon Base

The first question that arises for this problem is “How do we get to the Moon in the first place”. Well, humans have already stepped on the surface of the moon almost 60 years ago, so it is definitely not impossible today. Truthfully, a much bigger concern when it comes to space travel in the current modern era, is the choice of the primary energy source.

We are used to seeing solar power, fossil fuels or even hydrogen being used to power our every-day vehicles. But a space ship it’s much more complicated and the energy sources used in cars need to be heavily adapted for use in space. When scientists decide on a good energy source for a space ship they mostly look into fuel efficiency per cost ratio. Basically, we would want to use an energy source that can provide enough power for propulsion with the lowest cost possible.

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A lot of research has gone into finding a viable and efficient source of energy in the last couple of years, not only for space exploration, but for real-life application too. Fossil fuels, which are currently the most widespread source of energy on the planet, will eventually run out. The sooner we switch to a renewable source the better. Various energy sources like ‘Antimatter-Catalyzed Propulsion’, ‘Cold Fusion’, ‘Nuclear Fissions’ and ‘Electric Propulsion Systems’ ([7]), have been considered to be viable for use in space exploration. But there is a relatively new theory for a possible energy source that can be used both in space ships and on machines we use on a daily basis.

This energy source is called ‘Zero-Point Energy’ ([6] ) and in theory, it is one of the most efficient energy sources we have discovered. The physics behind it is quite complicated, but if we figure it out someday, it will definitely revolutionize both space travel and our life here at earth.

Another concern when it comes to space travel is the danger of cosmic radiation. Outside our planet’s atmosphere we are vulnerable to cosmic rays. Depending on the level of exposure to such radiation, there can be several health risks to humans varying from nausea, bleeding and changes in blood to cancer and even death ([4] Carol Norberg). Research that has gone into space suits to make them able to protect astronauts during space voyages has been pretty important not only for space travel but for uses in Earth too. Our atmosphere doesn’t make us totally invulnerable to high-energy radiation coming from the sun, that’s why it is important for us to be able to shield ourselves from such radiation which can cause the same problems mentioned before to our health.

Exploiting the Moon’s Resource

Once we get to the Moon, we can almost immediately harness its resources, right after we choose the proper location for our first “settlement”. This would be likely placed under caves or high mountains which would act as a natural shield against meteorites and radiation. The currently proposed models for shelters on the surface of the moon include the use of the rapidly growing technology of 3D printing. We can use the moon’s “sand” as material for the printer to create our structures. By sending 3D printers and other machines to the Moon, we can then let them build for us without needing to send extra supplies [11].

Once we establish a safe environment for humans, we can start to gather the Moon’s resources. According to Nasa, the moon contains a lot of resources out of which three are the most important:

Water, Helium-3 and Rare Earth Metals(REMs) ([6] Nasa). Water is essential for life and agriculture to be possible outside planet Earth, and it can also be used to create rocket fuel. Helium-3 is a rare element which is sought by scientists for the future developments in energy sector like nuclear fusion. And Rare Earth Metals are important because most of the electronic devices we use such as smartphones, computers and medical equipment cannot be made without REMs. Considering that most of the REMs available in Earth come from China’s resources, and China claims that it will run out of such resources within 15 to 20 years, it’s obvious why we would want to find another deposit for REMs ([6] Nasa).

Creating a colony on the moon

Up until this point, almost everything can be achieved by machines. But there is only so much that machines can do. That is why we must take our Moon base to the next level by populating it with humans. Through solar panels, electricity wouldn’t be a problem and because there is water on the Moon, we can potentially grow food in it. Basically the colony can be self-sustaining, requiring little resources from Earth.

The first people we would send in the colony are scientists. The reason why is so they can study the surface and the undersurface of the moon giving us a better understanding of our natural satellite and what resources are available in it. But the resources are not the only thing beneficial for us on Earth. By studying the Moon we generate scientific knowledge which can then be directly applied for practical use on our planet ([3] ISECG).

Later on, commercial space travels can be offered by big companies on Earth, so that ordinary people other than scientists can visit the colony. This can directly impact the economy here on Earth, as well as improve the prosperity in a part of the population.

Reference List

  1. Woody, C. (2018, June 18). These are the 25 most powerful militaries in the world - and there's a clear winner. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/most-powerful-militaries-in-the-world-ranked-2018-2#22-australia-4
  2. Marinho, F. (2017, July 07). Here's what NASA could accomplish if it had the US military's $600 billion budget. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/what-nasa-do-with-us-military-budget-2017-7
  3. Benefits Stemming from Space Exploration (PDF). ISECG. 2013.Benefits Stemming from Space Exploration
  4. Carol Norberg, 'Human Spaceflight and Exploration'
  5. Nasa articles, https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/11756
  6. Nasa https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/infographics/infographic.view.php?id=11272
  7. Claus W.Turtur (July 29, 2013), Journal of Space Exploration, 'New energy sources for space exploration'
  8. Mitchel Swartz (October 14, 2015), Journal of Space Exploration, 'Energy sources for propulsion to, and for distributed use on, Mars'
  9. Bertrand de Montluc (March 30, 2013) , Journal of Space Exploration, 'Will the US be overtaken by China in space?'
  10. Amadeo, K. (2018, September 07). How $1 Spent on NASA Adds $10 to the Economy. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/nasa-budget-current-funding-and-history-3306321
  11. https://gizmodo.com/this-is-what-the-first-lunar-base-could-really-look-lik-5980534
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How Can Space Exploration Benefit Humanity? (2022, February 21). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/how-can-space-exploration-benefit-humanity/
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