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When students think of outer space, they typically recall watching videos about the planets within our solar system and not the role that space exploration has in our society today. Space exploration is essentially the branch of astronomy, astronautics, and space technology that involves the distant regions of outer space.
After the first Sputnik and Explorer satellites were launched, scientists have been able to obtain wondrous information about the natural world and many facts would have been unattainable without certain scientific discoveries. The scientific research that has been conducted thus far is divided into five mainstream categories.The first category is solar and space physics, which includes the study of the electromagnetic fields in space and its influence on relationship with Earth. The second category is the examination of the planets, moons, asteroids, meteorites, comets, and dust in the solar system. The third category is the investigation of the evolution and origin of various objects in the universe besides those existing in the solar system. The last two categories are the research on living and nonliving substances in low gravity levels and the study of Earth from outer space.
NASA has led groundbreaking research about the solar system, earth sciences, planetary sciences, heliophysics, and more. NASA has also made sure that exploration of the whole electromagnetic spectrum is achievable. Also, the Cosmic Background Explorer, a satellite committed to cosmology,has provided clues for early density improvements in the universe. More importantly, observations with NASA satellites have given notable evidence for the existence of faraway objects as black holes and have revealed disks of dust and gas around young stars that may evolve into planetary systems like our own. During the 1960s, NASA made advancements for President Kennedy’s goal of landing a human on the moon with a program called Project Gemini. This is where astronauts tested technology needed for future flights to the moon and tested their own ability to survive numerous days flying in space. Project Gemini was followed by Project Apollo, which took astronauts into orbit around the moon and to the lunar surface between 1968 and 1972.
In order to enter this field, research experience, problem-solving techniques, a proper education, and an innovative mindset are crucial. Many who aim to pursue a career in the space industry earn a bachelor’s degree in a related science, technology, or engineering subject. Some examples are astronomy, astrobiology, and orbital mechanics. This process often leads to a master’s degree or PhD, but professional work experience is beneficial as well.
Overall, space exploration is progressing further and there is always more to learn about how scientific research and space exploration intersect every day.