Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by paddoboy, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    What Are The Benefits Of Space Exploration?

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    Eugene Cernan on the lunar surface, December 13, 1972. Credit: NASA.

    Why explore space? It’s an expensive arena to play in, between the fuel costs and the technological challenge of operating in a hostile environment. For humans, a small mistake can quickly become fatal — something that we have seen several times in space history. And for NASA’s budget, there are projects that come in late and over budget, drawing the ire of Congress and the public.

    These are some of the drawbacks. But for the rest of this article, we will focus on some of the benefits of going where few humans have gone before.


    Perhaps the most direct benefit comes from technologies used on Earth that were first pioneered in space exploration. This is something that all agencies talk about, but we’ll focus on the NASA Spinoff program as an example. (NASA will be used as the prime example for most of this article, but many of these cited benefits are also quoted by other space agencies.)

    The program arose from NASA’s desire to showcase spinoffs at congressional budget hearings, according to its website. This began with a “Technology Utilization Program Report” in 1973, which began as a black-and-white circular and progressed to color in 1976 following public interest. Since that year, NASA has published more than 1,800 reports on spinoffs.

    The agency has several goals in doing this. “Dispelling the myth of wasted taxpayer dollars” is one NASA cites, along with encouraging the public to follow space exploration and showing how American ingenuity can work in space.

    There are many commercialized advances the program says it contributed to, including “memory foam” (first used for airline crash protection), magnetic resonance imaging and smoke detection. In many cases, NASA did not invent the technology itself, but just pushed it along, the agency says.

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    An MRI image of the lower back. Credit: NASA

    But as counterpoint to NASA’s arguments, some critics argue the technology would have been developed anyway without space exploration, or that the money spent on exploration itself does not justify the spinoff.

    Job creation

    Another popularly cited benefit of space exploration is “job creation”, or the fact that a space agency and its network of contractors, universities and other entities help people stay employed. From time to time, NASA puts out figures concerning how many associated jobs a particular project generates, or the economic impact.

    Here’s an example: in 2012, NASA administrator Charles Bolden published a blog post about the Curiosity Mars rover landing, which was picked up by the White House website. “It’s also important to remember that the $2.5 billion investment made in this project was not spent on Mars, but right here on Earth, supporting more than 7,000 jobs in at least 31 states,” he wrote.

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    Hazcam fisheye camera image shows Curiosity drilling into “Windjana” rock target on April 29, 2014 (Sol 615). Flattened and colorized image shows Mount Remarkable butte backdrop. Credit: NASA/JPL/Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer –

    But the benefit can cut in a negative way, too. NASA’s budget is allocated by Congress, which means that the amount of money it has available for employment fluctuates. There are also some programs that are highly dependent on grants, which can make stable jobs challenging in those fields. Finally, as the priorities of Congress/NASA change, jobs can evaporate with it. One example was the space shuttle’s retirement, which prompted a job loss so massive that NASA had a “transition strategy” for its employees and contractors.

    It’s also unclear what constitutes a “job” under NASA parlance. Some universities have researchers working on multiple projects — NASA-related or not. Employment can also be full-time, part-time or occasional. So while “job creation” is cited as a benefit, more details about those jobs are needed to make an informed decision about how much good it does.


    Teaching has a high priority for NASA, so much so that it has flown astronaut educators in space. (The first one, Christa McAuliffe, died aboard the space shuttle Challenger during launch in 1986. Her backup, Barbara Morgan, was selected as an educator/mission specialist in 1998 and flew aboard STS-118 in 2007.) And to this day, astronauts regularly do in-flight conferences with students from space, ostensibly to inspire them to pursue careers in the field.

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    Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan practice teaching from space. Credit: “The Lost Lessons”

    NASA’s education office has three goals: making the workforce stronger, encouraging students to pursue STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and “engaging Americans in NASA’s mission.” Other space agencies also have education components to assist with requirements in their own countries. It’s also fair to say the public affairs office for NASA and other agencies play roles in education, although they also talk about topics such as missions in progress.

    But it’s hard to figure out how well the education efforts translate into inspiring students, according to a National Research Council report on NASA’s primary and secondary education program in 2008. Among other criticisms, the program was cited as unstable (as it needs to change with political priorities) and there was little “rigorous evaluation” of its effectiveness. But NASA’s emphasis on science and discovery was also praised.

    Anecdotally, however, many astronauts and people within NASA have spoken about being inspired by watching missions such as Apollo take place. And the same is true of people who are peripherally involved in the field, too. (A personal example: this author first became interested in space in the mid-1990s through the movie Apollo 13, which led to her watching the space shuttle program more closely.)

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    New Rosetta mission findings do not exclude comets as a source of water in and on the Earth’s crust but does indicate comets were a minor contribution. A four-image mosaic comprises images taken by Rosetta’s navigation camera on 7 December from a distance of 19.7 km from the centre of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam Imager)

    Intangible benefits

    Added to this host of business-like benefits, of course, are the intangibles. What sort of value can you place on better understanding the universe? Think of finding methane on Mars, or discovering an exoplanet, or constructing the International Space Station to do long-term exploration studies. Each has a cost associated with it, but with each also comes a smidgeon of knowledge we can add to the encyclopedia of the human race.

    Space can also inspire art, which is something seen heavily in 2014 following the arrival of the European Space Agency Rosetta mission at Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It inspired songs, short videos and many other works of art. NASA’s missions, particularly those early space explorers of the 1950s and 1960s, inspired creations from people as famous as Norman Rockwell.

    There also are benefits that maybe we cannot anticipate ahead of time. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is a network that advocates looking for life around the universe, likely because communicating with beings outside of Earth could bring us some benefit. And perhaps there is another space-related discovery just around the corner that will change our lives drastically.

    For more information, here is a Universe Today article about how we really watched television from the moon. We also collected some spin-offs from the Hubble Space Telescope. You can also listen to Astronomy Cast.Episode 144 Space Elevators.
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  3. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

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  5. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    My dear friend dmoe, thank you, for supplying that link which I accidentally left out.
    Still the heading of my article thus....
    "What Are The Benefits Of Space Exploration?
    by ELIZABETH HOWELL on JANUARY 26, 2015"

    Could lead no reasonable thinking person, without an agenda to really believe other than it was an article from someone else.

    Excellent article don't you think? And illustrates that space exploration is an integral part of our future.

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  7. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

  8. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    The following is from :

    " Cutting and pasting / plagiarism
    General - Posting large verbatim extracts of text from other sites is undesirable for several reasons:
    It uses up storage space on SciForums.
    It duplicates information that is easily accessible elsewhere.
    It can disrupt the flow of a thread, because posters have to scroll through large amounts of text that they may not wish to read.
    It may breach copyright laws.

    Therefore, we ask that posters abide by the following guidelines:

    All quotes from other sites must be attributed (e.g. by posting a link to the site).
    Quoted text should be restricted to a few lines or a paragraph unless the poster is quoting the text along with his or her, own detailed analysis (interspersed with the text).
    Avoid verbatim reproduction of entire posts of other posters (e.g. from earlier in a thread). If you want to dissect a post, it is fine to split it into different parts, but do not simply quote the entire post and then add a one or two line comment. "

    above Quoted from :
  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    Since its obvious that it was an accident, and since its obvious that I admit my little faux pas, and since its also obvious that your continued trolling of me will not cease, I suggest you report this to the mods and let any action deemed necesaary be taken.
    Now if you don't mind dmoe, this is about the many benefits obvious from space exploration. Let's comment on that.
  10. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Yep..thank god we spent all that money and effort on going to the moon. Knowing that it really IS just a cold barren rock just like we thought has helped my life in SO many ways. Yea! Go space travel! lol!
  12. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    The continued search for ETL and perhaps even intelligent life, would also greatly benefit mankind, and illustrate even further as to our place within this big wide wonderful Universe we are a part of.
    For people not to recognise that fact, they would really need to be six foot under.

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  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Finding ET might also be the end of our species, depending on if the ET is predatory and advanced enough to invade earth for its own resources. So no..finding ET is not a given benefit at all.
  14. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    And the money will continue to be spent in returning to the Moon, and even going further afield, perhaps to the stars one day.
    That's science, that's knowledge, that's progress, and that's beneficial.
    What you offer here, the philosophical bullshit you spray, will not, nor ever will, effect the progress of man, and the optimism and will to go further and learn more.
    What a sorry state of affairs must you be in, to not recognise these facts.

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  15. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    Investing in space is like investing in Columbus ship sailing for America and many countless other examples in history. Is natural to expand and necessary for people.
  16. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    In essence space travel and the cosmological sciences are just extending and promoting our never ending quest for knowledge and to know.
    Or as I like to put it...
    I don't except or believe we were born to stagnate on this fart arse little blue orb.
  17. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    I'm in agreement:

    1. I agree that space travel is important and that the desire to engage in it arises from basic human instincts of curiosity.

    2. I agree that posting an entire article is not the best way to initiate discussion on a discussion forum. I would like to have read a summary of the authors arguments by paddaboy.

    3. I agree that it may be a good thing that we haven't heard from ET yet.

    4. Did I miss anyone?
  18. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    My reasoning on ET goes like this.......
    Obviously, if they have travelled to our system, they would be well in advanced of us, and achieved huge velocities.
    Would such an advanced civilisation really want for anything?
    My other argument is that although we ourselves still have a long way to go re peace and prosperity world wide and a complete end to wars, we have Improved somewhat from the middle ages and even the last century.
    Religion naturally at this time appears to be a big thorn in the side of mankind in achieving complete peace and co-operation.
    What I'm saying is that any advanced civilisation should be even more attuned to the desirable non aggression we would all hope they do have.
    In that regard I remain optimistic.

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  19. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    How so? We should be technically capable of interstellar flight within a couple of centuries. Whether we engage in it will be an economic, social and political decision. Two hundred years surely does not provide the opportunity to be "well in advance".

    Why do you think so? Alternatives:
    1. Generation starships.
    2. Very long lived life form.
    3. Hibernation.
    4. AIs
    5. I could go on.

    As apex predators they could be looking for the next species to dominate.

    Or, you only need one aggressive ET to convince other civilisations that the best form of defense is attack.

    And, predicating our future on the chance that they are nice guys is irresponsible.

    But you are expressing it as a mere opinion, without any substantiating facts. That is dangerous. (And that's an opinion.)
  20. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Sure, and they could also be thousands of years ahead of us, and be a class 2, 3 or even 4 civilisation on the Kardashev scale.

    Any attempted forecasting is opinion, your's, mine and anyone else's.
    My only facts are as I mentioned, we as a species has improved somewhat, and would probably have improved even more had it not been for religion.
  21. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    [QUOTE="paddoboy, post: 3269356, member: 270793"
    Any attempted forecasting is opinion, your's, mine and anyone else's.[/QUOTE]I recognise that we have inadequate data with which to form an opinion. I have not offered an opinion. I have offered counter examples to your opinions. I express no view as to which may be more likely. I do maintain - and it is not an opinion - that assuming they will be friendly is irresponsible.
  22. dumbest man on earth Real Eyes Realize Real Lies Valued Senior Member

    paddoboy, do you accept that the word "except" is not the same as the word "accept"?
    Nor are the two words interchangeable!

    Shouldn't this Thread be in the Fantasy section?
  23. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    That is very likely a physical necessity for humans. Even assuming fusion energy could be used and 100% converted into the rocket's exhaust's thrust, the launch mass is prohibitorly large to go to any star. For example to go to alpha Centaurs*, only 4.5 light years away, with constant 1G acceleration to the half way point then 1G deceleration to soft land their on some postulated to exist habital planet the fuel mass required at launch is 837 times greater than the mass of Earth.

    If you tried to do that trip with chemical energy source, your fuel mass required would about that of the sun. For more details see: and
    then see the Cornell astro-physics paper those posts abstract data from at:

    * Perhaps we could send some robot there with a lesser acceleration rate and many millenniums of travel time, but I doubt it would survive even to the half way point - Space is not "empty" but it would be smacking into hydrogen atoms at about half the speed of light** during the journey - even strong solar flare, much lower energy per particle, typically hydrogen too, destroys the electronics of earth satellites.

    ** Just a quick guess based on the 1G, 6.14 year long, trip to alpha Centaurs achieving peak speed at the half way point of vmax = 0.954C. This lethal radiation of H atoms would kill you on the tirp or add tons of lead sheading to the launch mass.

    SUMMARY Like it or not, humans must learn how to live on this earth without thing like extinction of all but the tiny mammals via global warming.

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