Mission Juice will take a billion euros and convert this into a probe which will find out if any of the moons around Jupiter could host microbial life. Could the answer be no? Well yes naturally, this is the nature of such missions. Throughout history humans have spent huge amounts of time and money on exploratory missions – the great space race, getting to the North and South poles, visiting the bottom of the oceans and ascending the highest mountains. There is well known human need to explore the world around us. You take an infant, if you don’t keep ahold of the thing it’s gone exploring new and uncharted territory. It is a nice part of our childlike spirit which does not die when we get older, at least for most.
As we venture deeper and deeper into space our ambition and results get increasingly impressive. But progression brings increased expenditure and costs; take for example the Virgin Galactic mission which claimed a pilots life not too long ago. The question that is raised in my mind is should we keep on probing the universe around us?
There are increasing amounts we can tell about the universe by observing various inputs on Earth. But sometimes there are certain things you can tell about the universe by direct testing on the site of interest. We currently do not know if any of the huge number of orbiting planets have the conditions which are needed for life. It could be possible that the conditions for life are so delicately balanced that we are the only planet… statistically unlikely. Is it right that we sit on Earth ignorant to life around us? I don’t think so. There are all sorts of things we could find – resources, simple creatures, intelligent life or new types of particles. It is so so important to deepen our understanding of the universe so that we know what is in it. So if we don’t probe are we not limiting our chance to advance the human race? I reference again and again one day we might need to escape this universe. This is part of it.
I firmly believe in the advancement of science for the good of the human race. Look at where we used to be and where we are now. We have stacked years and years onto our life expectancy, can make unthinkable items and we can exchange information in seconds. Most of our advancements seemed impossible until they happened and have transformed our lives. Why would we stop now? We owe it to our future generations to keep getting bigger and stronger; and how can we do that without exploring?
Not to probe
The most obvious argument for me is the money. A billion euros is a lot of money and the fact is a lot of the time the stuff worth exploring isn’t commercial and needs funding from the public. Is it right that we spend billions on this, while people on the Earth are in extreme suffering? It is quite hard to justify when you have people in such dire need, like the current refugee crisis to name one example. For me this has always been one of the most compelling arguments against throwing huge sums against exploratory missions with little benefit. It is important that we take as much funding from private funding for these endeavours as we can, but there will need to be public sacrifice. I support it, but I do see the cost.
Then of course there is the “you don’t know what you might uncover” argument that gets touted a lot. I think this one is a little on the weaker side for now. Currently we are probing areas close enough to home that we know we won’t uncover some huge aggressive warrior race of aliens. But in all seriousness as we start to go out further and further and we are probing things we don’t understand it is worth uncovering. I don’t think the warrior race of aliens are out there, but I do think it could be disease or other destructive items. This is not a problem for now but we should continue to track and monitor this threat so it does not go unchecked.
Is it right or not? The answer I think is yes – but the above two comments do need to be factored in. It is correct and civilised to protect our people while we conduct our goals and aims. What do you think? Should we push deeper and deeper into the universe?