Experts of different backgrounds have come together to use space exploration technology to explore and study the cosmos. This way, humans can understand cosmological history and our place in the universe.
Throughout history, we have continuously explored and expanded our knowledge of new lands. As a result of this unique drive to explore, we have searched for knowledge beyond earth.
None of this would be possible without technology. It comes into play in all aspects of space exploration, from programming rovers to launch pads and even the spacecraft used to detect chemicals in soils, check temperature and weather readings, and record images.
So, what kind of technology do we need for space exploration? And what impact has technology had on space exploration? Let’s discuss these, shall we?
Technologies Needed for Space Exploration
When a spacecraft goes into deep space, it needs several features to help safeguard itself and the crew it carries. Because of duration and distance, we need systems that are light enough to be launched by a rocket and can be controlled remotely from Earth. This should keep astronauts safe whenever there is an emergency.
So, what built-in technologies are needed for this to be possible?
Systems for breathing
As astronauts go farther from Earth, they need reliable systems to stay alive. These advanced life support and environmental control systems take up minimal volume and mass to match the demands of deep space travel.
This technology removes humidity and carbon dioxide from the spacecraft, ensuring that the air stays safe for the crew. Even more, this tech controls water condensation on the spacecraft’s hardware. This prevents corrosion and water from getting into sensitive pieces of equipment.
When a spacecraft ventures farther into space, its propulsion systems need to maintain its course with precision to get to its destination safely. For this to be possible, the spacecraft needs reliable service modules that provide adequate propulsion capabilities.
These service modules come with different engines of various sizes. The main engine provides in-space maneuvering capacities, while the other engines provide a means to control and steer the spacecraft.
Navigation and communication systems
Travelling into deep space means going past communication satellites orbiting Earth and the Global Positioning System (GPS). So, for a spacecraft to communicate with the mission control on Earth, it needs space communication networks.
The spacecraft also needs backup navigation and communication systems to stay in contact with people on the ground. Even more, these backup systems help the spacecraft orient itself, if there is an issue with the primary systems.
Systems that hold off heat
The farther a spacecraft ventures into space, the hotter it gets when reentering Earth. So, for the spacecraft and its crew to get back safely, there’s a need for technologies that help withstand heat half as hot as the sun.
These technologies provide advanced heat shields that wear off as they heat up. Also, reliable thermal controls and protection systems protect the spacecraft from direct sunlight. Plus, its crew enjoys a safe and stable temperature during re-entry.
The Impact of Technology on Space Exploration
Technological advancements have played a crucial role in space exploration. In what ways are we seeing this impact?
Improved rocket technology
Early on, rockets helped in taking the first step into space exploration. Now, thanks to technological advancements, we see transformations in space travel.
We have improved fuel efficiency, advanced materials, and more powerful engines. All of these have allowed us to go farther into space.
With more innovations like advanced propulsion systems, reusable rockets, and more efficient manufacturing processes, space travel becomes more cost-effective and accessible.
Spaced-based telescopes and remote sensing
Remote sensing and space-based telescopes have helped us understand the cosmos better. With telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope, we get excellent images and insightful data that improve our knowledge of our complex universe.
As we invent better telescopes, the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life and cosmic phenomena becomes easier. In addition, we get to observe exoplanets better.
Propulsion is crucial in space travel. But, when it comes to distance and speed, chemical propulsion comes with its limitations. However, we have ground-breaking technologies like ion thrusters, solar sails, and nuclear propulsion. This can help in developing energy-efficient propulsion systems that achieve faster travel to distant planets.
Artificial intelligence and data analysis
Getting insights from vast amounts of data from space missions requires advanced analysis. This is where AI and machine learning play a crucial role.
Machine learning and AI allow us to process and interpret this complex data. Even more, AI algorithms make it possible to optimise space missions, predict cosmos phenomena, and identify patterns.
Better discovery with robotics
Robotic missions pioneered space exploration before humans went into the cosmos. This has helped us understand other planets and carry a record of our achievements.
Also, with unmanned missions, we can gather insightful data, explore unsafe environments, and take huge risks without endangering human lives.
To continue our journey into space, we need to embrace the idea of technological innovations. This drive will undoubtedly affect our life on earth
We can utilise all these advancements on Earth. So, our efforts in space exploration will also cause improvements on Earth.
Researched by Olamide Opebiyi