• Question: How does the role you play help mankind???

    Asked by cosmic creativity on 9 Jan 2020.
    • Photo: Abbie Hutty

      Abbie Hutty answered on 9 Jan 2020: last edited 9 Jan 2020 11:50 am

      I like to think that if we find life on Mars, and answer that fundamental question of “are we alone in the universe” it would make us think a bit differently about our place in the universe, and what we are doing to our planet, and who we want to be as a race. That’s maybe a bit too hopeful though, as a lot of people only think about themselves and what they own and what people think of them! Maybe at some level, though, finding out that aliens exist and are out there will make us take a bit more accountability for our actions on our planet and the impact we are having.

      Taking that question in a different way, though, the technology that we develop to do space missions, especially things like the rover which is going to such a difficult environment as Mars, pushes the boundaries of what we are capable of, and forces us to innovate to find new materials, new ways of doing things, and stuff that has never been done before. Once it’s been done, though, we almost always find ways to use it back here on Earth, which directly benefits humanity. For example the wheels and motors systems for the rover have been developed to make a concept wheelchair that can climb stairs to help disabled people get access to places they can’t currently get to. Another thing could be that the autonomous driving systems that we’ve designed could be used to drive lots of little rovers through badly damaged areas after a natural disaster like a tsunami or earthquake, and could be used to get aid to casualties or to find people or animals who are trapped faster and more safely than just by trying to send people there.

    • Photo: Craig Leff

      Craig Leff answered on 9 Jan 2020:

      I wish I could tell you something specific like we can solve climate change or ensure everyone has clean drinking water. However, I think the real answer is more interesting and more mysterious: we know we will change humankind, but we won’t know how until we get there. It might be the discovery of Martian life. it might be some other chemical discovery. It might be something in atmospheric science (remember that the idea for global warming was based in part on studying why Venus is so hot — an atmosphere almost entirely composed of CO2!) Or it might be something completely unexpected.

      One of the problems with predicting the future is that the future is never what you expect it to be.:-) There’s the old observation that we were promised flying cars and jet packs, so why aren’t we flying to school and to work? We’ll we don’t, but we do have a smartphones which fit in your pocket and can connect to almost the entirety of human knowledge (though maybe too many cat videos.:-)) That’s a pretty amazing future and benefit to mankind.

      ExoMars will do amazing things — I’ll tell you what they are when we get there.

    • Photo: Yuri Yushtein

      Yuri Yushtein answered on 9 Jan 2020:

      Humans are explorers by nature. We seek knowledge, learn and explore the world around us, and push the boundaries. It is a collective effort, and everyone is a contributor. Every achievement is built on top of the efforts of countless people before that. It takes many threads to get a strong rope. And each thread counts.
      And the next challenge for the human exploration, is the most mysterious, most difficult, and currently the least accessible – space. And, as Konstantin Tsiolkovsky said: “The Earth is the cradle of humanity, but mankind cannot stay in the cradle forever.”

    • Photo: John Bridges

      John Bridges answered on 9 Jan 2020:

      One level you can look at practical benefits of space science – Apollo and the manned lunar missions basically pushed forward the micro electrical circuity and processors that so much of our lives depend on now. No space science , no satellites and geosynchronous orbits, and so limited communications.
      However, I never apologise for attempting to understand the evolution of asteroids, Mars, the Moon. So much of what we now take for granted about space and the Solar System is based on research from previous generations of scientists.
      We have to balance the cost of space science with all the other important issues of our time, but if we progress a small part towards making ourselves a more informed society – about space but also science in general – then I hope that will benefit us all.

    • Photo: Divya M. Persaud

      Divya M. Persaud answered on 15 Jan 2020:

      This is such an important question. The role I try to have is to make sure that everyone has access to learning about space. PanCam is really important as the “eyes” of the rover because images are a way for everyone to appreciate Mars. No one country or company – or anyone! – owns Mars. We all have a right to learn about our home (the Solar System)! So my work focuses on making the surface of Mars and other planets and moons understandable for everyone.

      I don’t know that this helps humanity. It’s an important question we all have to think about. I hope it helps somebody. Seeing images of planets when I was a kid helped me – it gave me dreams and hope, and science helped me in my life in so many ways.