Exploration remains an important means of survival in evolution. There are different reasons for exploration with a major reason being curiosity. In this regard, the intellectual desire to discover the unknown forced the European explorers of old to travel to different places including the Americas and the Antarctica. Moreover, the need to understand nature is another reason for humans to explore places like mountain peaks and the Polar Regions. The last area to explore in this dispensation is space. There is already immense knowledge regarding the universe thanks to astronomical observations. However, these technologies will not offer a comprehensive picture of what is found in space. This means that humans will be forced to visit other planets in order to get deeper understanding about them. Significant development in spaceship innovations and the presence of rockets in the last five decades largely driven by concerns over national security, the desire for better communication and the need to understand environmental changes have made it possible to send people to other planets. However, as noted by Baum (p.75), humanity has to deal with numerous decisions regarding space exploration. This paper analyzes the benefits of new knowledge learned from space exploration.
The last fifty years will be cherished as the era in which humans traveled into space. Beginning with the first flights taken in 1961 by Yuri Gagarin and Alan Shepard to the 1969 moon landing by Apollo 11, people across the globe were taken aback by the tremendous developments of space exploration. This period ended with the achievement of the vision presented by President Kennedy about humans exploring the moon surface and returning to earth safe and sound. In order to achieve this objective, there was need for a combination of advanced engineering, medical research and most importantly life science accompanied by a strong team that was prepared to ensure that this impossible dream was achieved. The biggest advantage of space exploration would be the insights people gain regarding their place in the universe. The knowledge originates from discoveries like cosmic microwave background radiation that presents proof for the Big Bang model in connection to universe formation, in addition to the information relayed from spacecraft and studies connected with the biodiversity in the universe.
The other advantage of space exploration would be the reduction in the danger of human extinction. To this effect, it is noted that in the absence of space exploration, it would be difficult for humans and other living things to survive in the long term. This is attributed to the fact that the sun changes its composition in the same way as other stars. Moreover, it changes its radioactive output as time goes by. As hydrogen is converted into helium by the sun, it becomes warmer. In about five hundred million to one billion years, the earth would become uninhabitable due to this warming (Baum 78). In the event that humanity exists on earth when that time comes, it will have to develop technology to boost its survival on earth. That kind of technology could come from the current suggestions to have the planet reengineered so as to deal with the anthropogenic climate change. Despite this, the sun would about seven billion years later, lose mass which spreads into the orbit (Baum 78). This will make the planet to slow, be drawn into the sun before eventually evaporating.
There will only be life on earth in the event that the planet through coincidence is pulled from the solar system. Such a process might allow life to continue on earth albeit for some time. However, there are slim chances for such an occurrence. Space exploration will help provide a solution to deal with these long-term astrological threats. In addition, it will help address some of the immediate threats that face humanity and other living things (Baum 78). Examples of these threats are nuclear warfare, disruptive technology and the problem of climate change. Given that these threats would only impact life on earth, space colonies that are self-sufficient will survive the threats. This will in turn allow continuation of life in the universe.
Because of this, space exploration has been acknowledged and supported as a way of guaranteeing long-term survival of humans. In this regard, through space exploration programs, the likelihood of long-term survival of humans can also be achieved in other ways. For instance, technology created for the purposes of space exploration is important to proposals to prevent threats from the effect of large comet (Baum 79). However, in a quick rejoinder, Setlow (p.1013) noted that it is important to understand that there are major differences between exploring space on one hand and exploring the earth on the other. Space is a harsh environment which punishes human mistakes and does not tolerate technical failure (Weir 3). He further noted that there more risks for humans leaving the earth for a long period of time. The first risk is the near lack of gravity in space. The other danger is the presence of cosmic rays. The two would have serious health impacts on astronauts.
This is the reason why Setlow (p.1016) reiterated the need to upgrade the International Space Station further while using robot probes in the meantime. This as far as he is concerned should be done before reassessing the rationale for having taking humans to other planets. However, Baum (p.79) noted that due to the need to increase the likelihood of long-term survival of humans to a certain level, there could be more alternatives that are cost-effective as opposed to space exploration. These alternatives could be isolated refuges on the planet that would boost human survival during a disaster and materials to help survivors, for instance a seed bank. To this effect, there is need for further analysis so as to establish the most cost-effective way of boosting the likelihood of long-term survival for humans (Baum 79). Space exploration however cannot be wished away, rather must be improved for the benefit of humans.
In conclusion, space exploration can be liked to science fiction. Put differently, it implies that there is an unimaginable amount of space out there so that it will not be easy to discover everything that is in existence. Through space exploration, it is possible to have a broader view of the extent of the universe. In addition, it helps in understanding different things including facts about different planets. Perhaps in future, space exploration will help in the discovery of valuable resources.
Baum Seth. Cost-Benefit Analysis of Space Exploration: Some Ethical Considerations. Space Policy, 2009, 25(2): 75-80
Weir Andy. The Martian: A Novel. Crown/Archetype, 11 Feb 2014
Williams David & Turnock Matthew. Human Space Exploration: The Next Fifty Years.
Mcgill J Med. 2011 Jun; 13(2): 76
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