Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Why we should explore space

This is for Nancy, because she asked.

I, too, watched the space shuttle explosion in 1986, and the more recent Columbia disaster in 2003 (or was it 2002?) and I remember crying my heart out watching the coverage. But I still believe that the space program needs more, not less, funding.

For a really great list of spin-off benefits from the US space program, visit The Space Place:

One of the many spinoffs from the Hubble telescope is the use of its Charge Coupled Device (CCD) chips for digital imaging breast biopsies. The resulting device images breast tissue more clearly and efficiently than other existing technologies. The CCD chips are so advanced that they can detect the minute differences between a malignant or benign tumor without the need for a surgical biopsy. This saves the patient weeks of recovery time and the cost for this procedure is hundreds of dollars vs. thousands for a surgical biopsy. With over 500,000 women needing biopsies a year the economic benefit, per year, is tremendous and it greatly reduces the pain, scarring, radiation exposure, time, and money associated with surgical biopsies.

Other technological spin offs from the space program cover everything from golf ball aerodynamics to doppler radar (weather) imaging to improvements to school bus design and even better baby food.

Of course, this only covers some of the practical things we have learned in the pursuit of space. To me, it's not even half of the best argument. For a more poetic description of why we should continue to explore space, please do take a moment to read the Bad Astronomer on this subject. He's a terrific writer! Make sure you read the comments, too. No really, go! It's important.

And on a completely unrelated but perhaps not so unrelated after all topic, have you guys seen Google Earth yet? So way wicked cool you have to see it to believe it! Google sightseeing has now gone international as well.

So, now you know how I feel about it - what do you think? Is it worth it to explore space?