Peace and Space Exploration

by Jordan Seneca

Although absence of war is required to achieve it, peace is not solely defined in these terms. In fact, peace does not simply act on a political level, but on a multitude of different areas such as culture, ecology, or communication. These are but a few factors that can either cause conflicts or sustain peace. 

Peace is an important requirement for human growth in knowledge, arts, and relations. An aspiring astronomy major myself, I praise peace as a necessary factor for scientific development. Not only does it provide the resources necessary and for scientific research and advancement, but science itself aids in establishing and sustaining peace.

Space exploration has not only produced knowledge of our solar system and the rest of the universe. It has also improved the life of humans through the advancement of many technologies developed for space missions. You might be surprised that, for example, digital monitoring of patients’ condition was drawn upon technologies developed by the NASA for the Apollo missions. The NASA originally developed this technology to monitor astronauts’ heart, blood pressure and sleep aboard the Space Shuttle. Every year since 1962, NASA has published a paper called “spinoff” containing a list of that year’s technologies NASA helped to develop that were made available for the public.

Here are a just three of them:

Water purification is being worked on by the NASA along with a number of other companies. While the interest of this technology is for astronauts to recycle bodily waste such as urine or sweat into drinkable water, it has an important use down on earth as well. Contaminated water is a serious problem that kills over 14 000 people daily worldwide. Water filtration and purification is therefore a strong asset for those who do not have access to the precious resource of clean water.

Light-emitting diodes, commonly known as LEDs was an unconventional source of light at the time when NASA considered them for use in space botany. In collaboration with several other organizations, NASA managed to develop new types of LEDs that suited their needs. Today, however, these LEDs have an important use in medicine for the treatment of brain and skin cancer, and healing of wounds.

Solar energy is an extremely important part of space exploration as it is virtually the only source of energy in outer space. The program launched by NASA called the Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology, or the ERAST, had the objective to produce cost-effective slow and unmanned aircrafts. During the development of aircrafts of the program, notably the Pathfinder and the Helios, new light and more effective solar cells were developed. These new solar cells were 50% more effective than their predecessors, an advancement in a green energy source that needs to be invested into and pollutes far less than other sources such as petroleum or gas.

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Investment in science such as space exploration will not only produce profitable results in the future, but is doing so right now, and has done so in the past. The budget that is put in space exploration funding each year sees revenues over the subsequent years that repay the original investment multiple times. Not only is this an excellent financial investment for countries in crisis that require jobs, the solutions that are developed helps fixing additional problems.

In the end, if the budget that is invested in warfare would have been reconsidered and redirected towards a purpose such as peaceful scientific research, solutions for the environment, national finances or human health will evolve. These solutions could in turn avoid or repair the problems that are causing the conflicts for which investment in warfare is necessary in the first place.

If you want to read more about how space exploration helps us down on Earth, I encourage you to read the annual Spin-Off paper of Nasa here: http://spinoff.nasa.gov/

 

Sources:

http://www.spacefoundation.org/programs/space-technology-hall-fame/inducted-technologies/year/2000

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/history/pastprojects/Erast/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photovoltaics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_pollution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spin-off_technologies#Ventricular_assist_device

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