In July of this year, NASA shared the most profound images of the universe. Humans have always longed to learn more about the universe. The Mayans, for example, turned to astronomy to guide their lives. That Apollo program began in 1960 and culminated in the first trip to the moon. This historic moment was unprecedented in technology, resulting from the discovery or creation of new materials, methods, better engineering and manufacturing systems, and even the discovery of new laws of nature. Space technology has impacted the world in areas previously unimaginable, beginning with satellite television, cell phone signals, and geo-positioning systems (GPS).
Ethan R. Siegel, an American theoretical astrophysicist and science writer, wrote an article for forbes describe why it is important to explore space. He explained that space technology, particularly terrestrial satellites, can quickly survey and survey vast areas of land, improving land use for agriculture, livestock and fisheries. Satellite monitoring captures the health and condition of crops, soil, the impact of drought, rain and other factors. “It has been estimated that even a modest system of terrestrial satellites equipped with terrestrial resources and sensors programmed for agricultural improvements could increase annual harvests worldwide by the equivalent of many billions of dollars,” Siegel wrote.
NASA, together with various private companies, is developing the artemis Program that envisages establishing human life on the moon and “laying the groundwork for private enterprise to establish a lunar economy and eventually send humans to Mars by 2033”. For many of the new generations, it is hard to believe that it was only 53 years ago that humans first landed on the moon. Now, you don’t have to be an astronaut to go to space, as SpaceX demonstrated last September when American Jared Isaacman (the founder and CEO of Draken International), a pilot, philanthropist and commercial astronaut, funded a private orbit in the Earth. He was joined by medical assistant Hayley Arceneaux, data engineer Chris Sembroski, and geoscientist and science communication specialist Sian Proctor.
Space education allows students to dream big
Even if a student does not dream of exploring space as an astronaut, education about space and its discoveries is vital as it emphasizes the STEAM subjects and motivates students to dream of something about their current knowledge and experience goes beyond. It is important to teach students that space exploration is not just limited to industry; Academic institutions also play an important role. At Georgia Tech, for example, teams build moon flashlight, a small satellite orbiting the moon looking for lunar ice.
Sandy Magnus, a former NASA astronaut and professor at Georgia Tech, explains that the new challenges and technologies NASA is facing require multidisciplinary expertise. The challenges go beyond avionics, thermal or material issues; much interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research is required. At Georgia Tech, students participate in designing flight activities and building prototypes. They participate in design competitions in which they analyze and build various aerospace systems and compete against teams from other universities.
Such activities do not only take place at university level. For example in K-12, tools like Mimio MyBot and ShareSpace Huge Mars Map Allow students to create and program rovers that simulate what scientists and engineers do to explore Mars. There are even activities that focus on maneuvering the challenging Martian terrain, which requires an understanding of Martian topography. Also available are STEAM kits containing teacher guides, lessons, activities and even curriculum that will teach students how the sun affects the temperature on different planets which affects the viability of growth of living beings on earth. NASA has also created special material for educators and students.
An article published in the 6th International Conference on Space Science and Communications (IconSpace) entitled Using space science as a tool to promote STEM education for high school students in Malaysia discusses how space science teaching brings together two key concepts of STEAM education: 1) It combines many separate disciplines (chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics) under the assumption that their common synergies promote advances in understanding of the natural world and lead to innovation . and 2) it combines logic and the multidisciplinary conceptual frameworks of the various STEAM domains, thus treating education holistically. The article highlights “astrobiology” as “a relatively new multidisciplinary field of science that raises specific questions about the origin of life, the search for extraterrestrial life, and the future of life; it integrates physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology and computer science, big data, and artificial intelligence.”
According to the authors, STEAM topics are often stigmatized as difficult to learn. Still, space science has risen due to science fiction and the curiosity and imagination of the genre. Precisely because space science is intertwined with the imagination, in 2019 Jeff Bezos has the club for the future through his space transportation company, Blue Origin. He invites students, educators and parents, who make up the millions who live and work in the industry, to draw or write down their vision and email or post it to the club. Upon receipt, they are packed and flown into space with the flight crew. When the spacecraft returns to Earth, the written visions are stamped to show they have left orbit and returned to their owners. The idea behind this is to inspire new generations to pursue a STEAM career to turn their vision of the world into reality in space and to show students that space is something achievable. The program also offers various resources to incorporate space issues into the classroom and work on collaborative activities.
The International Space Station (ISS) created a community of students, teachers and organizations named Explorers of the space station, which offers lessons to replicate specific experiments in the ISS. The aim is that this “taste” of the life of an astronaut will motivate people to learn more about space and to study something similar. Space science positions go beyond astronauts; These include atmospheric scientists, aerospace engineers, avionics technicians and data analysts. As Sandy Magnus mentioned, space science is an area that requires multidisciplinary disciplines.
Space exploration is more accessible than it was 50 years ago, so encouraging students to “look it up” is crucial. Technology and space science are used every day to improve living conditions on Earth, such as B. Ride-sharing apps or routing apps that help people avoid traffic jams, determine where they are while driving, show the way to their destination, and so on. In construction, some companies use high quality satellite imagery combined with space technology to bid on specific jobs without having to visit the job site. Insurance companies also use this technology to remotely assess the risk of buildings. Dating apps also show potential partners in the area. If space exploration has shown anything, it’s that the sky is no longer the limit.