EDITORIAL: Space research is extremely valuable
Discoveries can help us answer timeless questions
On April 16, NASA launched its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). The satellite’s aim is to search for and find extensive numbers of planets outside of Earth’s solar system. Utilizing new and more advanced technology with very sensitive cameras, the satellite will provide a wider and clearer view of space to our researchers. To many, investing time and money into space exploration and research is a waste, especially considering the fact that we seem to know more about our solar system than our own planet’s oceans. With that said, research and discoveries regarding space and exoplanets can be extraordinarily valuable for multiple reasons.
Throughout history, philosophers have contemplated the nature of our existence. Now, with science, we are able to progress closer and closer to formulating serious and plausible answers to that question, as well as other complicated questions that come along with it. Right now there is a huge amount of data available and being examined by scientists that are helping us learn about different stars and galaxies. Through these studies, people are able to create models and theories regarding the circumstances that lead to the formation of such phenomena, and how our own planet fits into the mix.
In addition to the intrinsic value of simply learning more about our own existence, exoplanets can potentially help us prolong that existence. Due to overpopulation, the abuse of our environment by way of rampant fossil fuel emissions and garbage production and the possibility of asteroids colliding with earth or other severe natural disasters occuring, it is not far fetched to think that one day we may need a new home. While it is clear that we must do whatever is in our power to ensure that our descendents are able to remain safely on Earth, our perfect planet, we cannot ignore the seeming inevitable fact that the future of humanity is not only here, but elsewhere.
With regard to remaining primarily on Earth, which would be an ideal scenario, we could still potentially make good use of exoplanets in the future. Other planets may very well be able to offer us an abundance of valuable resources that may be rare here on Earth. People have already started serious efforts to begin mining asteroids for their elements and compounds like water, nickel, iron and cobalt. There is no reason why the same cannot be done farther down the road on exoplanets.
Earth is unlike any other planet that we know of. We are located the perfect distance from our star, a distance called the “Goldilocks zone,” which allows the planet to hold liquid water. It seems the circumstances that lead to life are not entirely common in the universe, which makes us extraordinarily lucky. Though there are an exponential number of other planets out there in the universe that could possibly harbor life, it is not clear as of yet that we are not alone. Learning about exoplanets can show the average person just how unique and fragile the Earth and the creatures that call it home are.
Research and discoveries regarding worlds beyond Earth can help us build more of an appreciation for our home — an appreciation that it undoubtedly deserves. While there are more pressing Earthly matters that may require our immediate attention, we must never lose sight of the fact that the universe in general is extraordinary. It is easy to fall into an egocentric mindset when our line of vision is always pointed down at our toes, but broadening one’s view with regard to the mysteries of the universe can lead to intellectual and spiritual fulfillment unlike anything our daily lives on Earth can offer us.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 150th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.