The thinking question posted on BNC today, is it more important to make discoveries on Earth or in space, got us thinking about how scientific exploration might lead to inventions or discoveries that could benefit our future here on Earth.
We did some research and found out some really interesting facts:
NASA created the technology behind wireless headsets to allow astronauts to communicate hands free without wires. Can you believe that we wouldn’t have wireless headphones today if it wasn’t for NASA?!
Red LED lights are being used both on Earth (to heal humans) and in space (to grow plants). NASAs LED technology is used to develop many medical devices.
In the 1960s NASA created something called an electrolytic silver iodizer to purify the water of astronauts in space. This technology is now being used on Earth to purify water in recreational pools.
Believe it or not, the baby formula we use today can be traced back to NASA! It now contains a nutritional enrichment ingredient, which can be traced back to research that explored the use of algae for long duration space travel. Thanks ISS for helping emotional_cherry’s baby brother stay healthy!
As you’re probably aware, space is a place of extreme temperatures. Because of this, NASA developed a special insulation from a material called Radiant Barrier. This is used today to insulate our homes and keep us warm.
These were just a few of the inventions and discoveries we wouldn’t have without space travel. But how can space travel and exploration help us further in the future?
Have you heard of solar wind? It’s a stream of charged particles released from the upper atmosphere of the Sun. This solar wind reaches speeds of 250 to 750 kilometres per second and is supersonic. Some scientists are now saying that solar wind could be used as a renewable energy source to power the entire world. As a reminder, renewable energy is important because it does not release greenhouse gases to damage the environment in the same way as the production of electricity does and it is important to have a backup for when non renewable resources run out.
Scientists who are keen to use solar wind to help us here on Earth have suggested that a humongous solar sail could be used to harvest the power of solar winds, generating 1 billion billion gigawatts of electricity. The main problem would be getting this energy back to the planet but, with some more research, we are sure that scientists will be able to find a solution. If it works, it could solve the world’s energy problems for good, so it is surely worth exploring further!
How else can scientific exploration benefit out future? How likely do you think it is that scientists will be able to harvest the energy produced by solar wind?