If you’ve ever found yourself under a bright starry sky on a clear night, you probably noticed the splendor that is space. For millennia, man has cast his gaze towards the heavens and wondered what’s out there. For some, that quote serves as both the question and justification for continuing to cast our gaze deeper and deeper into space.
Some people don’t even bother. For them, the answer to that question is a resounding ‘who cares?’. So why bother with exploring space? There is a myriad of reasons but it would take too long to go through all of them, so we’ve broken them down into five reasons: we learn, we push, we discover, we benefit, we evolve.
Mankind has demonstrated time and again an insatiable curiosity and the need to satisfy that curiosity. Explorers have always sailed the wide ocean in the search for new lands. Sir Edmond Hillary scaled Mt. Everest. Magellan circumnavigated the globe in a ship. Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong first pushed the limits of humans into space.
Humans push the limits of what we can do — it’s in our very nature. If you think about it, children push their own limits every single day. They learn new things and expand their horizon. Space exploration is, in a way, turning back to that childhood curiosity. Every day, we learn new things about the universe around us. However, humans have no idea what our limits are in space, so we keep pushing, and we keep learning.
With every boundary, we learn new things: how humans deal with extended time in space, the physical composition of the moon, how to fix a toilet in zero gravity, how to grow food in space, the location of black holes, recycling water and oxygen in space and (finally) how to break free of our gravitational limits and move forward.
With the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, humans took a quantum leap into the exploration of space that rivaled Galileo when he probed the skies in the late 1500s. The images the Hubble telescope have allowed us to peer deeper into space than anyone could have ever imagined (seriously, check those images out).
Pointed at a supposedly blank portion of the sky, about the size of a pinprick, seemingly bereft of anything interesting, Hubble gave us images that changed our understanding of the universe. Tens of thousands of galaxies, many like our own, each with trillions of stars and at least as many planets. Now multiply that by the number of “pinpricks” in the night sky and you now have some idea of just how vast the cosmos truly is.
Eventually, humans will figure a way into space and utilize the infinite resources it promises. The development of space will make fortunes for those brave (and lucky) enough to take the plunge. These new-found resources will certainly be the source of significant benefits for those of us who remain firmly planted on terra firma.
It will also signify that man has evolved enough to perhaps establish a permanent extra-terrestrial habitat. A century ago, WWI was winding down. Cars, indoor plumbing, electricity, and refrigeration were luxuries (or non-existent). Now, we have airplanes, smartphones, space travel, and computers.
Continuing that progression, the idea of colonizing the moon, Mars or moons of the gas giants shouldn’t be that far-fetched. It’s the natural progression/evolution of our species.
Five reasons to explore space? We learn, we push, we discover, we benefit and we evolve. That’s why.
Now go back and check that Hubble link!!
Enjoyed this article? Join 40,000+ subscribers to the ZME Science newsletter. Subscribe now!