Audience: Middle and High School Students
By Ivan Peteh
An image of the SpaceX Satellite launch. Photo by SpaceX-Imagery from Pixabay.
As large as our planet may seem, Earth is nothing but a speck of dust compared to the rest of our universe. With the vast amount of new and unexplored territory, the concept of space exploration may seem unreal and terrifying. However, it could very possibly become a part of your future career!
Following various advancements in technology and space exploration, many new career paths are opening up. As of December 20th, 2019, the United States Military announced the foundation of its newest branch, the National Space Force, whose plan is to expand both space security and exploration. Through space exploration, scientists aspire to obtain new natural resources, expand tourism, and broaden areas of human life. Applications for the space force finally opened up in May of 2020, and spots are quickly filling up. However, joining the National Space Force is only one of many space career options you could explore.
With increased recent funds, some of the larger and more popular space research companies and organizations, such as “NASA” (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), are projected to complete their research and projects on space exploration sooner than predicted. NASA states that they plan on sending the first woman to the Moon by 2024. This is a huge achievement in the entirety of the space exploration community, as it breaks both gender and societal norms!
This isn’t NASA’s only exciting project. According to Brian Dunbar (NASA Official), NASA has yet to announce whether Blue Origin, Dynetics, or SpaceX are moving forward with their human landing systems. Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX are all additional aerospace and technology companies that use their funding and influence to assist NASA, themselves, and other organizations in their space exploration quests. In 2024, one of these companies will be the first private company to safely land American astronauts on the Moon. As a result, future tourism will change drastically: turning the Moon into a tourist attraction, rather than simply a tool for scientific observation, will truly be a pivotal point in the history of space exploration. A goal that scientists and engineers have researched and dreamed about for over fifty years will finally become a reality. While revisiting the Moon is one of NASA’s top priorities, it is not the only one, a celestial body that humans have never stepped foot on, Mars, patiently awaits for humans to arrive.
The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, known as MOXIE, is one of NASA’s newest inventions. This project focuses on preparing humans for exploration on Mars! Though still in its developmental stages, MOXIE is intended to produce oxygen from the Martian carbon-dioxide atmosphere, providing astronauts and potential future Mars tourists with an infinite supply of oxygen. Weighing only 37.7 lbs on Earth, standing 12.2 inches tall, and 9.4 inches in width, this small invention weighs no more than a small dog. MOXIE is very practical and can easily be placed on one of the Mars Rovers, or mass-produced in order to produce oxygen on a much larger scale. This could lead to the development of entire civilizations on Mars, allowing people to live sustainable and healthy lives 50 million miles from Earth. For comparison if we could stack one planet Earth on top of another we would be able to sustain life approximately six hundred thirty thousand “Earths” away! Though it is unclear when MOXIE will be fully developed, it is exciting to think that future generations may be spending their summer vacations on Mars.
An image of the Mars 2020 Rover that will carry NASA’s Newest invention: MOXIE. Photo by WikiImages from Pixabay.
Whether the Moon, the stars, or Mars interests you, there are various organizations and companies that are excited to help you fulfill your desire for space exploration. Normally, NASA offers the famous space camp, camp KSC (Kennedy Space Camp), which is one of the most popular and well-respected summer camps when it comes to space exploration. This week-long camp offers opportunities to elementary, middle, and high school students who wish to further their careers and education in space exploration. Kennedy Space Camp offers various hands-on activities that allow students to learn what it is like to work for NASA or be an astronaut! Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, many of these camps are being held with either limited campers, or have been cancelled completely. But not to worry—with websites such as Khan Academy and Harvard Edx, free courses, resources, and information on space exploration are at your disposal.
Warner, Cheryl. “NASA Perseveres Through Pandemic, Looks Ahead in 2020, 2021.” NASA, 2020, www.nasa.gov/feature/nasa-perseveres-through-pandemic-looks-ahead-in-2020-2021.
Hecht, Michael. “Mars and MOXIE.” NASA Science Mars 2020 Mission Perseverance Rover, 2020, mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/instruments/moxie/.
Author, Unknown. “About the United States Space Force.” United State Space Force, 2019, www.spaceforce.mil/About-Us/About-Space-Force/.