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Benefits and Challenges of Space Exploration

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Space exploration is a crucial step in the future of the human race. There are many benefits to be gained from this endeavor. Expansion, knowledge, and continuation of the human race are some of the crucial benefits to be considered.

Exploring space allows humans to observe interstellar bodies, however near or far, would help prepare humans for expansion. One reason to be in favor of expansion is to ensure preservation and continuity of the species. Overpopulation has become a very serious issue in leaving humans with few solutions. Climate change has been slowly encroaching to the point of serious consideration. The current rate of resource upkeep for the population has reached a point of 1.75 planets. These issues that humans currently face in coalescence have made space exploration and expansion an utter necessity for future survival.

Exploration as a means of increasing knowledge is a deep desire found in even early humans. Human ancestors felt the drive to explore and learn about the unknown. New discoveries on Earth in remote locations on land as well as in our oceans were and are being explored to fulfill this very same desire. Space is known as the final frontier because it holds the greatest challenge. It is infinitely vast, so much so that there is minimal hope that anyone could ever discover all that is available just waiting around us.

Humans wish to learn and further their understanding of all that happens. “They do so for reasons that are intuitive and compelling to all of us but that are not necessarily logical” (Griffin, Michael). When standing in the same position, only so much can be gathered and learned. “Human space exploration helps to address fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and the history of our solar system” (Wiles, Jennifer). Now it could take a long time to learn everything about our current solar system, which is a good thing. This keeps humans busy possibly creating an alternative to war or other conflicts (Congress, United States, 15). With this unification in ideology, humans would be more than capable of expanding and learning much about this great wide universe. But humans can only push forward and expand knowledge if they choose to keep moving. Space offers us that opportunity to keep moving. It is full of new places, opportunities, awaiting discoveries, and answers to questions we’ve only just been able to ask.

Man landing on the moon proves that humans are more than capable of making an interstellar voyage. John F. Kennedy’s speech in 1961 declaring that the United States would not only put man on the moon, but launch a rover, weather satellites, and other space fairing projects all became a reality. Humanity as whole is able to accomplish just about anything if motivation is well placed.

The International Space Station has played a vital role in the furtherment for knowledge of what is around us. The ISS has “Enabled more than 2,500 research and technology development investigations, generating more than 2,100 scientific publications across a diverse spectrum of fields” (Dansberry, Bryan, et al). The ISS is only a short distance from Earth yet so much information has been gathered already. The sheer potentiality of what could be discovered is more than enough to motivate the support of those who seek knowledge.

Space is full of influential opportunities in the way of resources. Our solar system alone has enough resources to fulfill the current rate of consumption for up to a projected one million years. Large Privatized companies have looked into this as a sustainability option. The biggest obstacle for this is the cost of executing the task. “Nasa’s Osiris-Rex expedition, which aims to bring just two kilos of asteroid material back to Earth by 2023, is set to cost $1bn. But Deep Space Industries thinks it can get the ball rolling by putting three of its Fireflies in space for just $20m” (Davies, Rob).

Exploration and research of space provides incredible technology that is used in everyday life. Without the International Space Station and space programs, “we wouldn’t have GPS, accurate weather prediction, solar cells, or the ultraviolet filters in sunglasses and cameras” (Whitwam, Ryan). It is easy for one to take things like this for granted but it has an important history whether it is realized or not. A simple thing like filtered water is a great example of what many take for granted in their daily lives. Water filtration research aboard the ISS has been conducted and proven useful as well. “The first of many ground-based water filtration systems using NASA technology was installed in northern Iraq in 2006” (Dansberry, Bryan, et al). More recently, medical research is being conducted in space. Disease research and even human life prolongation are among the most popular. Whether it is already been studied and applied or it is in future’s sight, all of this has proven helpful to the lives and knowledge of those around the globe.

Humans are the best option for further exploration over robots. Adaptability is a major strength that humans have over machines. “Humans are the most complicated and versatile robots to which we will ever have access” (Cockell, Charles and Crawford, Ian). The Mars exploration rover, Spirit, managed to travel 3.9 km in its first 330 days. Apollo 17 astronauts however, traveled a total of 36 km in just 22 hours (Garvin, Jim). Multiple points of interest on Mars are locations with rugged terrain and large changes in elevation. Situations in terrain like this prove to be less of challenge to be overcome through humans. In spaceflight, astronauts would also be able to study in multiple fields simultaneously whereas this would be more difficult with machines. It is obstacles like these where the adaptability in humans shines.

Space travel does have some challenges however. One of the biggest means for concern right now is cosmic radiation. A one-way trip would dose humans with 0.3 sieverts. A lethal dose measures at 8 sieverts (Boddy, Jessica). But scientists believe that this amount could cause irreversible damage to brain cells causing symptoms like depression and impairment to decision-making.

The next problem would be microorganisms. In October of 2016, researchers found an airborne fungus, Aspergillus Fumigatus, on the International Space Station (Boddy, Jessica). This one in particular isn’t a massive cause for concern since it is one of the most common cause of invasive fungal infection in humans.

A lesser concern is bone loss while in space. Currently astronauts try to combat this issue by exercising 2.5 hours a day, 6 days a week. While this definitely helps, it does not completely eradicate the concern or the issue itself. But there is currently a study being conducted using Bisphosphonate. “Bisphosphonate is a therapeutic agent that has been used to treat osteoporosis patients for more than a decade, with a proven efficacy to increase bone mass and decrease the occurrence of bone fracture” (Dansberry, Bryan, et al). Astronauts are currently using this once a week in conjunction with their 15 hours of exercise weekly.

Currently there are solutions for each of these issues underway. The NASA Space Radiation Laboratory will be conducting “Future experiments to be performed at the NSRL will provide further evidence on different shielding materials and their effects on biological systems” (Setlow, Richard B.”. Multiple research groups are even working on a drug to protect cells and preventing DNA to be broken apart. New detection and cleaning policies are being explored and considered to further eradicate any microbial or fungal threats aboard space fairing vessels.

While humans have an innate desire to explore and learn from the unknown, there are some situations that are better left unexperienced. Some of these situations being climate change after it has passed the tipping point or a repeat of mass extinction. Putting efforts forth to pursue further expansion gives humanity a form of backup or safety net. While action should certainly focus on offsetting things like climate change or other major issues, unforeseen events are always a possibility. It is always best to prepare for what could be in store for the future. Preservation of the species is what is ultimately important. Expansion being one of the best options to obtain this.

When one considers the benefits, the surmountable obstacles, and the overall preservation of the human species, it is clear that further exploring and expanding into space is imperative. On Earth, some of the major factors such as climate change and availability of resources are not an immediate threat. But there is always a possibility of something unforeseen and it is always best to be assured for the sake of the future. As the late Stephen Hawking eloquently stated “Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth” (Gohd, Chelsea). 

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Benefits and Challenges of Space Exploration. (2022, April 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/benefits-and-challenges-of-space-exploration/
“Benefits and Challenges of Space Exploration.” GradesFixer, 08 Apr. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/benefits-and-challenges-of-space-exploration/
Benefits and Challenges of Space Exploration. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/benefits-and-challenges-of-space-exploration/> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2022].
Benefits and Challenges of Space Exploration [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 08 [cited 2022 Sept 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/benefits-and-challenges-of-space-exploration/
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