One burning question many people who have no interest in astronomy or space travel ask is, has it been worth all the expense and human sacrifice sending people into space? The simple answer for us is yes it has! Many discoveries have been made and accelerated due to space exploration that otherwise would not have happened such as medical cures and answers to problems relating to our environment. Facts as to how we will fair in future years as a planet have also been explored. Here we take a look at some of these awesome discoveries.
Water Purification and Filtration
When NASA was considering sending people into space they needed to find a way to filter water in order for it to be safe and palatable for astronauts to drink. Water purification technology discovered by NASA has helped treat contaminated water throughout the world since.
Technology devised for the Apollo Spacecraft is now used to purify water in dolphin tanks thus eliminating the neccessity to use chemical disinfectants, which can only be a good thing. This is a perfect example of how by wishing to explore our universe we have by products that are beneficial to mankind as a result.
When we need a scan our doctor refers us to the local hospital and we take it as read that they will scan our bodies to find out if we have a problem. the invention of the Cat Scan is attributed to space exploration and is another fine example of requiring technology to explore our universe resulting in a discovery to benefit mankind on earth.
In order to locate, measure and analyse objects in space we need good digital imaging analysis. To explain, digital imaging is the numerical representation of physical images when processed by computer. This technology is now used in CAT Scans, Radiography and microscopy.
Mobile Phone Camera
Today we all use our mobile phone cameras on a daily basis taking instant images of our friends and loved ones. How did the mobile phone camera come about? The concept of the digital camera was first mooted by NASA back in the early 1960's.
By the 1990's the team had created cameras small enough to keep their scientific quality while being attached to spacecraft. Many mobile phone companies today use the very same technology to create our mobile phone cameras.
Observing Our Planet
Observing our planet from space has given scientists a broader more informative picture of the world we live in that is invaluable. Space exploration has enabled us to understand earth as part of the universe and its place in the scheme of things.
Data can also be provided from space that we would otherwise not be able to find from a ground based position. Philosophically speaking too astronauts who have travelled in space are able to appreciate that we a small dot in the ocean of galaxies, proving that the earth in which we live is certainly not alone. This raises all kinds of questions as to what or who is out there?
Van Allens Belts
The first artificial satellite launched by the US discovered Van Allens Belts that hold radiation trapped by the earth's magnetic fields. Following this discovery many more satellites were deployed in order to study the earth from space.
Only because of these observer satellites do we now know that we have a hole in our ozone layer, while many archeological finds and geological formations have been discovered that would otherwise have remained undiscovered. Other satellite uses include Spying, communications, navigation, weather and research.
The International Space Station
The International Space Station was launched in 1998 and is so huge that occasionally, weather permitting it can be seen from earth. The station enables astronauts and scientists to live and work in space for the benefit of all and indeed the station has been continuously lived in since 2000.
Scientific experimentation that could not otherwise be done is carried out on the space station. Medical experiments and research are ongoing along with astrobiology, life sciences, physical sciences and meteorlogical research. The International Space Station also runs an educational programme where students can join in experiments from down on earth.
The development of artificial muscle systems for use in NASA space robotics have been adapted to create amazing limbs for people who have lost an arm or leg through accident or illness. Temper foam, also invented by NASA, is also used to make the limbs soft and pliable plus look more flesh like and human.
Scratch Resistant Lenses
The technology used to offer sunglasses wearers scratch resisitant lenses came from NASA technology that was created to protect space equipment such as helmet visors from scuffing and scratching in space.
The first space blankets were created in 1964 and were developed to reflect infrared radiation. These blankets are now common place in first aid kits throughout the world being lightweight and used to cover and keep warm patients who have received an injury or are involved in an accident.
Plenty To Be Thankful For
The innovations we have discussed are but a tip of the iceberg when it comes to appreciating that space exploration has benefited humankind. Many spin off products that have evolved due to the space programmes of many countries are used in hospitals, throughout industry and our daily lives.
Many technologies discovered and invented due to the space programme mean that we can study our world in depth from many perspectives and angles in order to find solutions to problems that affect us now and will in the future.