Season 2, Episode 11 of The #AskAbby Space and Science Show
Presented by TheMarsGeneration.org
Why should we explore space over the oceans?
People often debate about whether we should invest more into exploring space or Earth’s oceans. The oceans are a part of the planet we live on, yet historically, we’ve invested a lot more into space exploration. What are the benefits of exploring space? Join Astronaut Abby as she explains why she and so many others are fascinated by this area of research!
Includes answers to questions including: How much do we spend on space and ocean exploration? Why has space exploration seemingly taken precedence over ocean research? What are the benefits of each? Is it more difficult to explore the ocean or space? What challenges do each pose? And importantly, which of these areas allows us to watch Netflix?? You might know that answer…But watch the video to learn even more about space versus ocean exploration!
Transcription of OCEANS VS SPACE
Hey there, welcome to AskAbby. Today we’re going to be talking about–
WAIT. Abby. Okay, okay, okay. Abby, I was on the dark side of the Internet again–
Oh, that’s never good.
Um, and I came across something and I don’t know what it is!
Are you–AHHHH!!! What is that?!
I don’t know, it’s like a fish, but also really sad.
That is really sad looking. I’m not quite sure what it is. Um.
But Abby, like, this thing is so weird. Why aren’t we researching the ocean more?
That is pretty weird. That’s actually today’s topic on AskAbby. That’s right, we’re going to be talking about why space exploration and space research, when there’s still so much like this thing that we have yet to learn about our own planet’s oceans?
Ugh. You take it.
It looks like Putin. You know what? I’m a Russian major. I’ll keep it.
Hey there. Welcome to Ask Abby, where every episode, I go ahead and answer the crazy, wacky, zany, out-of-this world questions about space and science submitted by, that’s right, you guys, the viewers!
This week’s question is from Braydon S., who asked “Abby, why do people choose space instead of exploring the ocean?”
This question addresses a debate that people have been having for years about: Why are we exploring space when there’s still so much left here on Earth, and especially in Earth’s oceans, that we have yet to understand?
Space, or oceans? This question often comes up when we’re talking about, that’s right, funding. Ideally, we would just go ahead and explore everything. However, funding is a very real limitation on exploration. And so, we sometimes do have to choose.
In fact, right now NASA has 150 times the budget of NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
However, it wasn’t always this way. Before the Cold War, both space exploration and ocean exploration had similar levels of funding, and were making similar strides. But, the Cold War and the resulting space race made space exploration imperative to military defense and political victory.
This disparity if definitely apparent, when you think about the fact that today, we only know about 5% of the Earth’s oceans. In fact, we know more about the surface of the Moon than we do about the bottom of the ocean.
Why is this?
Well for one, funding. But it’s also arguably easier to learn about space, or at least, the space in our general vicinity.
First off, the deepest part of the ocean is insanely deep. It is so deep that you could actually take Mount Everest, and flip it over, and put it in the ocean, and it still wouldn’t reach the bottom of the ocean.
Because the ocean is so deep, there is an insane amount of pressure from all of that water. To put it in perspective, if a human were standing at the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean, it would feel as if they had the weight of the world on their shoulders. Just kidding, it would only feel like fifty jumbo jets.
Wait, fifty jumbo jets?! That’s a lot of pressure!
In space, we actually have the opposite problem of that. There’s not enough pressure, which is why we have to wear space suits.
It’s also really really dark. The bottom of the ocean is pitch black, which, of course, makes it really hard to see. Whereas in space, yes, there are some areas that don’t have a lot of light in them, but overall, there’s actually a lot more light, making it easier to see, for example, a giant comet hurtling at you. You know, the important stuff.
That’s not to say that space exploration isn’t difficult, but in some ways, the bottom of the ocean is more difficult for humans to explore than, say, the surface of Mars would be.
Space exploration may have also taken precedence over oceanic exploration due to public interest.
Sci-fi genres including Star Trek, Star Wars, 2001: Space Odyssey, Babylon 5, Star Gate, BattleStar Galactica–— Oh, sorry, are we supposed to? I’ll get back to the point– have enamored the public and really grabbed their minds and drawn their attention to space exploration.
On the other hand, in the oceanic genre, we have things like 2000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jaws, Titanic, Mermaidman. Sorry, those just aren’t quite as compelling. In fact, I feel like every movie about the ocean, or almost every one, pretty much everyone dies. Like, gruesomely. Doesn’t really make us want to go there, right?
Now that we’ve talked about how space exploration became better-funded than ocean exploration, let’s go ahead and look at the arguments for each.
Let’s go ahead and start with the underdog: oceans. One of the plus sides of exploring and understanding more about our oceans is growing food–aquaculture. With the growing population here on Earth, it’s really important that we also understand how to increase our food production. And almost 3 billion people rely on our Earth’s oceans for their food.
Oceans also give us valuable information about climate change. Researching our oceans can help provide us with signs of climate change, as well as solutions of how we can better take care of our planet.
Understanding how the ocean responds and affects the environment is critical in considering conservation and resource management.
Emily, who writes this stuff?
Oh, I don’t know, I got it off of Yahoo questions..
Oh, okay, that makes sense.
Well basically, what it means is that it’s really important if we want to understand our Earth as a whole, that we understand our oceans. They make up a huge portion of it, even though we don’t interact with them as often as we do with land.
Researchers have discovered plenty of health benefits and medications from exploring the ocean. Recently, a substance was found in the Japanese black sponge that led to the discovery of a drug that helps to treat late-stage breast cancer.
Exploring oceans is also arguably cheaper than exploring space. To put this in perspective, the entire yearly budget for NOAA is $20 million, whereas it takes $100 to $200 million to launch one single rocket to space.
But now let’s look at the argument for prioritizing space exploration!
First, exploring space would help us to become a multi-planet species, and hopefully, not so dependent on Earth.
Also, there are so many mysteries in space to solve, which would better help us to understand everything from our own rights here on earth, all the way to our entire universe. While we’ve only explored roughly 5% of the earth’s oceans, we’ve explored an infinitely smaller percentage of space.
Next, space exploration has led to the development of a lot of very helpful products for problems here on Earth.
That’s right, CT scans, advanced water filters, advanced eye surgery, bone loss prevention. All of these are examples of things that are a direct result of space exploration.
Major achievements in space exploration also help to bring us together. When a country makes a major stride in space exploration, it helps unify them as one people.
But even more so, when any human makes an advancement in space exploration, it is often celebrated worldwide, because we know that this is going to help everyone, not just one country.
As Neil Armstrong said, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
I’m completely on the side of space exploration, of course, but I also think that exploring our oceans is extremely valuable and important. Going to a new planet (*coughs* Mars) doesn’t mean that we should neglect our own.
Another correlation between space and oceans is that someday, we might actually be doing ocean exploration in space.
Coming to theaters near you. Where two hydrogen meets one oxygen in space.
A lot of the Jovian planets–so planets in the outer area of our solar system–have satellites or moons that are thought to have undersurface oceans. Hmm. They’re very likely places for life to be and are really an important place for us to go ahead and explore.
Well, that’s all the time we have today for Ask Abby! Thank you all for joining me.
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Until then, farewell fellow travelers of spaceship Earth. I’ll see you later.