August 23, 2010

Mars Exploration Technology Benefits Everyone on Earth

When discussing the space program, you may sometimes hear that it is "a waste of money," that we should "spend the money here where it can do some good," or even that "we can't afford it." What many people may not be aware of is the fantastic number of "spinoffs," or technology developed for space missions which has practical and valuable uses in our daily lives. This is why space exploration is an investment in everyone's future.

The microelectronics and computers which we depend upon today for example were developed in part by the need to miniaturize electronics for the Apollo mission. Those over a certain age will remember bulky tube radios as well as the smaller transistor radios which replaced them. It was the absolute necessity to make small computers for the space program which greatly accelerated this development.

Dust Covering Mars Rover Spirit's
Solar Panels
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Here's an excellent example of a technology designed for Mars which benefits solar energy production on Earth; self-cleaning solar panels. The fine dust on Mars can greatly reduce the efficiency of the solar panels which power rovers and other landers. Dust on Earth-bound solar installations suffer the same problem. Without rigging bulky windshield wipers, how would you solve this problem?

Working with NASA, Malay Mazumder, invented the way to do the job at Boston University:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11057771

As with microelectronics, while it would be useful to have self-cleaning solar panels on earth, alternatives are workable if time and energy consuming, such as spraying water on them. A hundred million miles from humanity, that option doesn't exist, and this necessity is what drove the demand to create self-cleaning panels. Perhaps this technology would have been developed sometime soon without the absolute need for use on Mars--or perhaps not.  Result: more efficient solar generation on Earth!

Here's another: radar technology developed to locate subsurface water on Mars will now be used to find water deep under the deserts on earth!
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-290

Now imagine the demand to create an almost closed ecosystem to support Moon and Mars colonists for months and years at a time, and you get an idea of how this demand may benefit the environment on Earth.

Space exploration is indeed an investment which will be paid back many times over in technological advances to improve our lives and clean up the environment. We can't afford not to invest in space exploration.

9 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is an amazing technology. i have to agree the we need to "spend the money here where it can do some good".

    solar panels norfolk

    ReplyDelete
  4. Many things we take for granted are a direct result of space exploration.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting? I'm pleased I discovered it though, ill be checking back soon to find out what additional posts you include. Haryana Ration Card Application

    ReplyDelete
  6. If you name it "The Best Torrent", no one will download it. Put in details like title, quality, and format. At this point, it has been created.torrent download

    ReplyDelete
  7. SEO is all about experience: Almost everyone can undertake SEO but most of the people do not know how to do it right. ann arbor seo

    ReplyDelete
  8. The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface. Sikkimfcs-cad.gov.in

    ReplyDelete
  9. What is interesting though is that even though she claimed to dislike technology so much, she advised that once she started to spend so much time using it, she realizes that it is not so bad.read more

    ReplyDelete