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Advantages of Space Exploration

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The 1960's brought new advancements for all of Earth. Machines and men were sent into space, and this sparked a new government agency, called NASA. Space was a new frontier, and virtually everyone was interested in exploring it. Over the years, the interest in space exploration has weakened, and NASA was almost terminated from existence, although there have been many advancements in it over that time. Space exploration should continue because it could help solve many problems on Earth, such as overpopulation and lack of resources. Exploration of the final frontier must continue in order for human life to continue.
There are many reasons that space exploration should continue. If Earth ever becomes too overpopulated or over polluted, then perhaps people can move to Mars. The world population in 1970 was approximately 4 billion people, and is currently nearly 6 billion people. The world population in 2015 is estimated to be 7 billion people. There is a possibility that there are useful resources on Mars. Scientists have found ice and some other clues, such as craters, volcanoes, and valleys, that have led them to believe that there was once life on Mars, and they believe that sometime in the future, should planet Earth need to be evacuated, humans will be able to live there (Jakosky 142). Many of the rocks on Mars appear to have been formed by gasses, breathable by humans and other creatures. A process called terraforming will allow astronauts to make use of the resources that are on the planet and create an atmosphere that will support life. One method for terraforming is that scientists would convert the gaseous rocks back into gasses, and use gas-eating organisms to eat the gas, which results in the formation of other gasses. If these organisms continue the cycle, then Mars would have a stable atmosphere for humans to live in (Getz 39).
Robert Zubrin, an engineer that is working for Lockheed Martin, suggests that NASA should send humans to Mars, instead of machines. Machines are too limited in what they can accomplish, and humans need to be there to make up for what machines are incapable of doing (Easton 170). He brings up the point that Lewis and Clark did not spend the time or the resources to even try to take enough food and supplies to last them the entire time that they were exploring new lands. Zubrin suggests astronauts "live off the land," instead of spending more money than necessary in surviving on Mars (Easton 170).
Space exploration has indirectly helped bring about technological advancements, such as microchips and more efficient computers were developed to get rockets and people into space. The technology that helped create fuel cells for the Apollo missions is being used to help find a more efficient power source for cars. Space has allowed us to communicate with other people across the world and to find exact locations on the Earth through satellites. Satellites have also helped meteorologists to predict hazardous weather conditions and to help people prepare for storms (Webster). These are amazing advancements that mankind has made and there are many more advancements to come.
Health is a big concern for the people at NASA, and even though astronauts do get sick and suffer from problems while readjusting back to gravity on Earth, NASA can use this to their advantage in finding ways to minimize these problems (Salleh). The effects of weightlessness on astronauts have added to our knowledge of human anatomy and the process of aging (Webster). The presence of gravity gives our bones their structure. In space, the skeleton is free to loosen somewhat, which can cause bone problems if astronauts are subject to weightlessness for long periods of time. Astronauts experience weak immune systems, weak bones, and in some cases, can get cancer from the lack of protection against cosmic radiation. Scientists at NASA are attempting to create a device that can make measurements about bone and tissue (Salleh). Astronauts are under great amounts of stresses while they are in space, especially for long periods of time, and this can cause weakened immune system. This, in turn, allows cosmic rays to cause more damage when coming into contacting with human skin (Salleh).
Some people think that there are too many problems with space exploration. Some of these include the fact that people already have too many problems on Earth, as it is, and have no time or interest in trying in solving problems about space. The problems people have on Earth include, but are not limited to poverty, war, and simply trying to get through everyday life. One belief held by these people is that the government could solve these problems on Earth by saving the money that is spent on the Mars missions (Kurtz). They think that, even though scientists have found a fossilized microbe on Mars' surface, it means nothing at all (Kurtz).
There are those that believe that satellites and remote controlled machines have been beneficial in the past, but that there is a big difference between launching machinery into space and human beings into space. John Merchant, a retired staff engineer at Loral Infrared and Imaging Systems, is just one of the many people against manned space flight (Easton 179). For one thing, sending humans costs more than sending machines because humans need more supplies and resources than machines do to survive in the harsh conditions that are in outer space. Merchant suggests that unmanned missions can be just as informative as manned missions, by use of technologically advanced robotic rovers. Merchant believes that the capabilities of new robots will allow scientists to experience Mars as if they were actually there (Easton 181).
Many people think that microchips and various advanced technologies that came from the space program could have been discovered by other means than space exploration. The technology developed in the space program was made in order to solve problems, and this could have been discovered due to a more useful reason. Just because miniaturization of rockets was developed partially by nuclear warfare that does not meant that nuclear warfare should not continue, and many have this outlook on space exploration. Another point they make is that scientists are using more and more resources to find life-sustaining conditions on alien planets, which wastes even more resources on Earth (Webster). Scientists are spending billions of dollars' worth of resources to search for more resources on alien planets. The resources that are left on Earth should be spent looking for ways to fix overpopulation and other growing problems on Earth. They argue that this whole search for life in space is going nowhere fast.
Alexander Woollcott once made the statement, "Nothing risque [risked], nothing gained." (ThinkExist.com). Simply put, mankind needs to take risks in finding alternate living habitats, even if it means a loss of money or loss of human lives. One failure or mistake would just be one more step closer to success.

Works Cited

Arabe, Katrina C. "Manned Mission to Mars: Pros and Cons."Industrial Market Trends. 2004. 15 November 2005 .

Easton, Thomas A. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Science, Technology, and Society. 3rd Edition. Connecticut: Dushkin/McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Getz, David. Life on Mars. Revised Ed. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997.

Jakosky, Bruce. The Search for Life on Other Planets. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Keiper, Adam. "A New Vision for NASA." The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society. No. 3. Fall 2003 pp. 3-22. 15 November 2005 .

Kurtz, Stanley. "Mission Worth It?" National Review Online. 2004. 11 November 2005 .

Salleh, Anna. "The Health Hazards of Life in Space." News in Science. 2001. 17 November 2005 .

"ThinkExist.com Quotations." 2005. 14 November 2005 .

Webster, Bobby. "Space Exploration." International Debate Education Association. 6 November 2000. 9 September 2005 .

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