By Tarun Sanda

 

Recently U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the proposed 2013 budget includes cutbacks that would halt and possibly terminate progress on planetary science missions. From an economic point of view, planetary science is the easiest place to save money. However, is it wise to do so?

Assume for a minute that we are not alone in this universe. That somewhere far off, in a different galaxy, in a different time, lived a species similar to the human race. They are similar in the sense that they are able to understand and hypothesize about the world around them. But what if those individuals had the opportunity to venture further out and explore the cosmos beyond their native land, yet decided against it, as it did not seem economically viable at the time?

Given an infinite amount of time, any event is possible. Our extinction is inevitable, however the purpose of our being is to first ensure our survival. Although there is no sign of a cataclysmic event decimating all life on Earth in the near future, we know that our time on Earth is on the clock. With the rate that we are consuming the resources our planet has, it will not be long before we are faced with the issue that there might not be anything for us to fight over anymore. Then what? Soon we will run out of oil, and then food, and then water. Is this the way the world ends? With us at each other’s throats, doing our best to be the last one standing amidst chaos?

We, and in turn our governments, should be inclined to spend time and money into planetary exploration. If the human race is to survive, it should not take us over 40 years after the first Moon landing of Apollo 11 to send the Curiosity Rover to Mars. There may be more pressing issues that need immediate attention than exploring the depths of the cosmos, and one day there may be a time where space may be the most pressing issue, but by then it might be too late. Maybe the universe is littered with species that had the chance to extend their existence, however decided not to because it did not seem economically beneficial or urgent to be deemed a priority to expand their presence. Is it possible that our ignorance could one day be the cause of our extinction?

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