Exploring the Science Behind Space Travel

Space travel has been a source of fascination for centuries, and now, thanks to advances in technology, it is possible to explore the universe like never before. But what branch of science is responsible for this exploration?Astronomy is the general field of natural sciences that deals with celestial objects, including those in the Solar System, Galactic and Extragalactic realms. Many students enrolled in this field work in this general area, studying the effects of space weather on satellites and terrestrial systems such as power grids. Exobiology is the study of planetary conditions for life, and can be used to measure the probability of life in space.

As with all space races, there are many paths one can take to become a space scientist depending on the questions they want to help answer. Some scientists use satellite data to study the cause and speed of climate change on Earth and its effects on wildlife. Astrometry focuses on the precise position of heavenly bodies, while heliophysics studies the constant and dynamic radiation of the Sun that affects its environment in space. Astrobiology relies on astrochemistry to better understand substances in heavenly bodies, stars, and interstellar space.

Space science has added a new dimension to the search for knowledge, complementing and expanding what had been obtained from centuries of theoretical speculation and terrestrial observations. In particular, human beings as experimenters and even experimental subjects have facilitated studies in biomedicine and materials science. Many countries have become involved in space activities through their scientists' participation in specific missions. Planetary science (planetology) deals with how planets form in the solar system, including their composition and dynamics throughout history.

After Gagarin's flight in 1961, space missions involving human crews carried out a series of important investigations, from on-site geological research on the Moon to a wide variety of observations and experiments aboard orbiting spaceships. To carry out the necessary research to address these scientific issues, countries such as the United States, Europe, the Soviet Union and Japan have developed a variety of space missions, often working together. Data for these missions can come from satellites, telescope images, experiments on the International Space Station, field work in different regions of Earth, or even from heavenly bodies that have fallen to Earth.

Jeannie Eschenbrenner
Jeannie Eschenbrenner

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