What’s the need to explore space? For over half a century, humans have been visiting space. And as a result of this, the whole world has gained many benefits. Many often wonder why the astronomical budgets for space programs are not allocated to more concrete projects down here.
However, the truth is that space research impacts various areas of our everyday life. In this article, we will see examples of the daily benefits we experience as the general population, all as a result of space exploration since its inception. So let’s strap in and take a look at what space exploration has found!
Weather Monitoring to Prevent Turbulence
Thanks to space exploration, satellite launches like those of the Meteosat program have been revolving around the Earth since the 1960s. This helps to study meteorological phenomena and also to predict them.
By following and observing the winds, the clouds, the atmosphere, or even the oceans, they make it possible to anticipate storms and other dangerous weather events.
In addition to other types of observation, such as radars, this saves lives. When alerted, people can take shelter and stay safe and sound. Ongoing volcanic activities or possible forest fires are also monitored through weather monitoring.
Helps Anticipate Climate Change to Curb It Better
Beyond monitoring what the weather might look like tomorrow or in a week, satellites can collect climate information.
This data is a godsend for climatologists, who use it to understand the evolution of the climate. It’s one way to take the pulse of the Earth and see if it’s okay, somehow.
There are satellites entirely dedicated to the environment and the climate. These include:
Ibuki 2: A Japanese satellite that measures greenhouse gases using ultra-powerful sensors and evaluates concentrations of fine particles.
Merlin: This is a Franco-German satellite scheduled for launch in 2024. It will study atmospheric methane to better understand the sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
Microcarb: This satellite is still under development and should be launched in 2022. It will be used to precisely measure the flow of CO2, the main greenhouse gas.
You will understand by now that these satellites provide very precious information to deal with the climate changes that await us with the hope of trying to slow them down.
The Television and Mobile Telephony
Yes, without conquering space, there would be no telecommunications! The first communications satellite, Telstar 1, was launched in July 1962: a few days later, it transmitted an interview by J.F. Kennedy on all screens.
Currently, 320 satellites orbit the Earth to broadcast the flow of images from television channels and sound for mobile telephony. By 2022, no less than 47,000 channels would be transmitted worldwide. An astronomical figure!
Without television satellites such as ASTRA or EUTELSAT, many people would hardly be able to receive a television program. And the television broadcasts from all over the world are now broadcast via satellite links to the broadcasting centers. Without satellites, there would be no live broadcast of soccer world championships or pop concerts from all over the world.
Telephone and cell phone connections are also routed via satellites, for example, when you are calling abroad. And of course, many internet connections are via satellites, even if there are huge cables on the ocean floor as an alternative.
The Navigation System
If you are one of the people who use their GPS every day, then you should know that you owe this technology to the conquest of space. Once reserved for the military, satellite tracking has since been developed for use in the civilian world.
Created in the early 1970s by the American army, satellite positioning technology, or GPS, has been part of our daily life since the 2000s. Today, we speak more of GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) because other positioning systems have been added to the American GPS, such as the European Galileo system.
The medical field is undoubtedly one of the sectors most affected by the advances resulting from space missions. They are constantly helping to better diagnose diseases, better treat people, and improve their comfort of life.
This is in particular thanks to NASA technology which has developed dialysis machines. There is also the ventricular assistance pump in cardiac surgery, digital resonance imaging (MRI), and, more recently, a robotic arm to facilitate complex brain operations.
Even today, during their mission in the ISS, astronauts like Thomas Pesquet are both guinea pigs and operators. They carry out experiments and are themselves objects of study.
The Velcro Fastener
You know Velcro fasteners from sneakers, bags, and jackets? They haven’t been around that long, but they come from space research.
In the weightlessness of space, you can’t just put anything down. All loose parts are floating around. This is unpractical because the astronauts could not find anything. For this reason, Velcro was stuck all around the spaceship, to which everything loose was attached to prevent it from flying around, becoming a potential hazard.
New Materials for Aircraft and Automobile Construction
Space travel costs a lot of money – and every additional kilogram that has to be transported into space costs millions of dollars. That’s why scientists are always working to make space shuttles lighter.
New, lighter materials such as carbon, Kevlar, and glass ceramics were tried out and successfully used. All of these substances will also be installed in airplanes and cars.
Optimizing aerodynamics in the wind tunnel was also first used for spaceships. Here, too, it was important to save fuel. Because if the airstream has less surface to attack, then less energy is needed to move a body forward. You can easily try it out for yourself: Walk a few meters in the wind and then open an umbrella that you carry behind your back. The wind gets more surface to attack, and you move much more slowly.
The International Space Station is almost 30 years old, and this one thing shows just how well our many nations can work together. Although only 15 nations signed the international ISS agreement, today there is participation from 68 different nations.
The ISS has proven exactly what humans can accomplish when they agree to work hand-in-hand towards the same goal. As we move forward with more ambitious and complex missions, international cooperation will become an even bigger cornerstone for success.
Additionally, this international cooperation is required to tackle threats that include solar storms, near-Earth objects, and global climate change.
Space travel is a luxury for scientists that we will soon no longer be able to afford. Beyond all the technical and technological fields, the conquest of space is at the origin of innovations used to manufacture everyday objects. Diapers, for example, Teflon, or even the blue filters of your sunglasses. Unbelievable, isn’t it?