SMART-1 Earthrise The SMART-1 lunar probe, a European Space Agency mission, captured this sequence of images as the Earth disappeared behind the moon and then re-emerged. The prominent landform is Brazil. ESA/SMART-1/AMIE

The Earth is a Planet: Why We Explore Space

Posted By Bill Dunford

2013/02/11 10:50 CST

Every time we accomplish something amazing in space, it’s as predicable as sunrise that someone will make the comment ‘why spend so much money/time/effort in space/on Mars/in orbit when there is poverty/disease/famine here on Earth?’

It’s a fair question. I admire the prudent impulse behind it. The trouble is, to be blunt, it’s a question based on ignorance. In most cases, it’s an innocent ignorance, coming from smart and fair-minded people. But the question belies a lack of understanding about why we explore space (or do any kind of science for that matter) how much money is spent and where it goes, and how much we all rely on the results of space exploration and other scientific research every day.

There are many answers to this question; here are mine: First, we don’t spend much as a percentage of the total economy. In the United States, for example, the entire NASA budget—everything from the space station, to climate monitoring, to aircraft efficiency research, to Mars rovers—takes up less than one percent of the federal pie.

Read more: The Earth is a Planet: Why We Explore Space | The Planetary Society.

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