Space exploration helps us on earth in many ways as well as expand our knowledge of the universe. New technologies are created as well as medicines to and further cures to illnesses on earth. Jobs are created from this area and it inspires new generations to explore the sky above. Many innovations from space can even protect earth from extinction level events like meteors striking the planet.
Much of the research obtained was from NASA’s official site so the data is reliable. Some of it is recent projects that have occurred, some is from future projects that will occur, and the rest is from past projects that have been successful and helped us on earth.
Exploration into space benefits us on earth. Satellites in the atmosphere allow us to communicate with people across the globe and ask for help anywhere at any time. Satellites can also monitor weather and extreme weather events to help in the future to prevent more deaths and help more people. These satellites need international cooperation to create and maintain which brings mankind closer together. Jobs are created from the line of work which help people on earth, and it helps the countries’ economies as well. Satellites can also monitor asteroids to see if they will hit earth and if they do, they can divert it. (Space X has thought of a satellite that might be able to protect earth from these large rocks. Exploring space can help us find alternative means of energy other than fossil fuels. The sun can be explored further so that we might be able to harness its’ solar energy more efficiently. Space exploration can give us a perspective on the earth and that we need to protect it. We can monitor greenhouse gases and try to reduce the effects of global warming. New technologies are created from the exploration of space that benefit us on earth. Markets for space products and services are created to improve the economy. Countries could also form strong partnerships to get into space and explore it, bringing the world closer together. We can learn more about the earth and the universe around us. We could discover the meaning of our existence. Indirect benefits from all of this are that global health, the economy and the environment can all be improved from all the technology created. Safety and security can also be improved.
An example of way space innovation can help protect earth is to redirect asteroids from crashing into earth and causing devasting effects. DART, the double asteroid redirection test, will be the first ever method of trying to redirect an asteroid that is on its way to crash into earth. DART will launch in 2021 and crash into asteroid 65803 Didymos’ small moon in 2022. This will change the orbital period of the moon by 4.2 minutes which we will be able to measure and record the effects on earth through telescopes. If this works, it will tell us that a dangerous asteroid comes close to earth, we will be able to redirect by a small collision.
Another way that technology created for space is benefitting us here on earth is that the Galileo satellite constellation is not only providing GPS, but it is also being used to relay SOS calls to first responder. This saves roughly 2000 lives a year and in the future all satellites could have this ability to save many more lives. SOS calls could be relayed from anywhere even without places with signal.
Plant powered sensors have also been developed that send signals to space to satellites. This could help provide sustainable energy, although the plants don’t create a lot of energy now. This could therefore reduce the effects of climate change. For farms in remote places, devices can be connected and allows them to send and receive data from satellites. This can tell farmers how well their crops are doing and report on weather. This can help farmers produce the greatest yield possible and inform retailers about potential harvest. This will therefore improve quality of life of people in remote places and businesses.
Although some deaths do occur, the fatality rate is quite low (at 3.2%) and it will get lower as with every rocket gone wrong, they can improve for next time, so it won’t happen again. The more we go into space, the less deaths will occur. 544 people have been in Earth orbit which is where the 3.2% fatality rate comes from. This however doesn’t consider that some people have been up into space more than once. If this is considered, the fatality rate is only 1.3%. It is unlikely that something will go wrong in space and if it does, there are many backups on the spacecraft to prevent death.
Astronauts must understand the effects of gravity on plant life so when going further into space, it is possible to grow sustainable food to last them a long time. The ability to produce high energy, low mass food is essential which will keep astronauts healthy and will not replace other essential things on the spacecraft. ADVASC (The advanced astroculture investigation) has figured out how to preserve plants for longer so they don’t decay. This can be used back on earth to stop plants from decaying as quickly so florists and grocers can keep produce on shelves for longer. ADVASC has also contributed to national security, cancer-fighting pharmaceuticals and educational tools for students which benefits earth. ADVASC’s machine takes out ethylene which causes plants to grow, ripen and decay. They convert this into carbon dioxide and water which helps the plants grow. This can be used back on earth. This machine has been licensed and is an air purifier that destroys airborne bacteria, mould, fungi, mycotoxins, viruses and odours. The device has no filters that need changing and produces no harmful by-products. The products improve the nutrients that plants get (carbon dioxide and water). This makes quality of life for people on earth better even though it was developed for space.
Many investigations of micro-gravity (or weightlessness in space) on the immune system have taken place and they help us better understand it and potentially make it stronger to help people in space and on earth. Microgravity causes modifications in the human immune system and figuring out why this occurs could help people with immune dysfunctions on earth. Comparing blood and saliva from astronauts to people on earth can help us see the small changes. This may help scientists pinpoint the beginning of illnesses and suggest how to monitor or boost the immune system to prevent infection and disease. This can be used on earth to improve our healthcare. Other research on what causes the depression of the immune system in microgravity can help us understand immune system activation and suppression and improve treatment for diseases like arthritis and diabetes. Further research can also detect diseases, metabolic functions and immune system deficiencies quicker. Also, research of bacteria in the gut in space could help us restore bacteria in the gut and even restore immune system function. This improves the quality of life on earth as people suffering from these diseases could be cured in the future.
Biotechnology is being researched to help us get to the moon and to mars. This biotechnology can help us back here on earth significantly. With biotechnology, NASA are developing new ways to manufacture new medicines, build new habitats and more in space which can be used back on earth. Astronauts need nutrients in space so scientists are trying to develop microorganisms that create vitamins and can be drunk to provide nutrients to astronauts. This can then be used to provide nutrition to people in remote areas on earth.
Humans get many medicines from plants. Now, researchers are trying to simplify the process of turning plants into medicine. This could reduce the cost of biomanufacturing pharmaceuticals on Earth, making pharmaceuticals more affordable on earth. Also, plants could produce medicines in space. Researchers are transforming plants into medicine factories for future Mars missions. They’re genetically altering an ordinary type of lettuce so that it produces proteins to help maintain strong bones. This would help people stay healthy on this planet as well.
Waste will need to be carefully managed on Mars, so it doesn’t build up. Better ways of recycling need to be created so the waste doesn’t build up. If a more effective way of recycling is created, it could be used here on earth to help reduce waste and turn it into more useful products. Microorganisms can be used to recycle waste. Microorganisms such as yeast and algae feed on all kinds of waste. These microorganisms process this waste and it generates products that can serve as raw materials used to make essential supplies like nutrients, medicines, plastic and fuel. If this was made effective, there would be less waste on earth so less pollution.
Microgravity affects the heart and its ability to pump blood around the body which can cause some serious health issues. Research on why this happens could lead to development of countermeasures, help maintain the health of astronauts and people on earth with heart problems, and even reduce the negative effects of ageing on earth. Some of the studies also investigate insulin resistance which causes type 2 diabetes and could even find a cure for it. As cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death on earth, this research could help develop measures to slow down vascular ageing and improve the health and quality of life for everyone on earth. Research initially for people in space could help save many people’s lives on earth.
The next step in the advancement of exploring space is going to the moon again. From this information gained from going to the moon, it can be used to travel to mars and even colonise it. But why go to the moon or mars? How does it benefit us on earth? NASA will send the next people up to the moon by 2024 and make this sustainable by 2028 with the help of commercial and international partners. This is called Artemis.
The reasons to go to the moon is that it will demonstrate new technologies, capabilities, and business approaches needed for future exploration including Mars. It will also broaden NASA’s commercial and international partnerships, bringing the countries of the earth together to focus on one goal. A new generation will be inspired from this and will encourage more careers in this field of work.
From NASA’s website, Brian Dunbar (July 25th, 2019) the editor of the page states that the astronauts will:
- Find and use water and other critical resources needed for long-term exploration
- Investigate the Moon’s mysteries and learn more about our home planet and the universe
- Learn how to live and operate on the surface of another celestial body where astronauts are just three days from home
- Prove the technologies we need before sending astronauts on missions to Mars, which can take up to three years roundtrip
As NASA is sending humans to the moon to figure out how to explore mars, they must find a way to make mars habitable. To safely and comfortably explore for days at a time on the surface of the moon and mars, astronauts need suitable equipment and places to live. Almost 20 years of humans living aboard the International Space Station and an increasing amount of research carried out there are contributing in how to live on mars. This research into building habitable areas on mars can be translated to inhabitable places on earth. This could give people in these extreme areas on earth a better quality of life.
The first step to creating a sustained human presence on the moon is to build a space station like the ISS but one that orbits around the moon. This gives astronauts a safe place to stay between exploration missions and give them access to more on the moon’s surface. This is called Gateway. This will allow grater capabilities for science, more meaningful exploration, and commercial and international partnerships. If commercial flights to the moon are possible, this will greatly increase the economy and allow the average person to go into space. This is all influenced by and built on by the experiences of the space station. It will be the first-time humans would have lived on another celestial body and allow us to take long duration flights in deep space.
A main point of interest when thinking about sending astronauts up to the moon is 3D printing. As the storage on the space craft is very limited, only essentials are taken. 3D printers can be taken so spare parts, tools and materials can be created on these planets. Missions to mars will not have the capability to carry spare parts. The 3D printers can solve these issues. 3D printers do work in microgravity, so this is a viable option and will reduce the frequency of supply runs, saving a lot of money in the process. Refabricators can also be used which are 3D printers that use waste plastic materials to create the 3D printed items. This can help solve waste problem on mars as the waste can be recycled into useful products. If this works effectively, this can be used on earth on help reduce waste and turn it into useful products. The 3D printers can also be used on earth to make creating tools, spare parts more easily and allow people to have more access to these types of things.
There have been 227 spacewalks taken from the space station. All these walks have provided useful experience and knowledge for future spacewalk planning and preparation to make future walks safer and more efficient. Planning is huge for spacewalks and can take many years. The knowledge from these spacewalks can not only help future spacewalks but help us on earth to repair things in dangerous environments. Special tools are created and tested on these spacewalks to make more efficient. If these tools prove to be effective, they can be used on earth to make everyday repairs even easier.
After going to the moon and learning new knowledge, the next step will be to send humans to mars. The technology used to send humans to mars can be used back on earth to improve life. The Martian habitats will have to generate zero waste and use low energy, high yield farming systems. Designed clothes will help astronauts keep healthy whilst travelling through space as they don’t use their muscles in space. These clothes could help people on earth stay fit and healthy.
These technologies like the low energy and waste could benefit life on earth by reducing waste and helping the environment. There could also be an extinction-level event like and asteroid striking the planet. We could send some humans to live on Mars, so humans don’t go extinct Digging down into the centre of mars could uncover rock that could tell us about the origins of the universe. We could even discover water on mars which once held life. Travelling to mars also prepares us to travel even further into space to one day try and discover earth-like planets.