by Erika (age 12, @KNEstemGirls)

Space can be deadly and it costs billions of dollars for equipment and technology – $18 billion for NASA’s budget in 2015 alone! So why do we do it? Curiosity? The need to learn? Fascination? I think there are many reasons why.

Since the beginning of time, people would look up at the sky and wonder ‘What are those bright things?’ But we have now learned that they are not just lights, but are huge balls of gas light years away. Stars are natural wonders that most people think of as beautiful and majestic. If you’ve never had the chance, go look through a telescope so you can see celestial objects up close. When I do, it leaves me feeling that space is really special and we need to find a way to preserve our darkened skies.

With new technology we can find out many things about the universe – like how it was formed and that it might be infinite. We know that in about 6 billion years our galaxy, the Milky Way, is going to crash into the Andromeda galaxy and combine with it which some astronomers refer to as “Milkomeda”. We have learned about the Big Bang and how stars are started, but we can learn even more.

We  also might find other intelligent beings. Some people believe in Martians, but if they exist, we haven’t found them yet. But maybe there are other intelligent beings somewhere across the galaxy. We just don’t know yet, but with recent discoveries of other Earth-like planets that orbit some of the twinkles of light, we are closer than ever.

Most importantly, we should explore space for protection. Occasionally, a meteor will hit Earth and cause lots of damage as seen in the Tunguska event in 1908. Thankfully, it happened in a remote area, but over 80 million trees were knocked over in an area the size of a metropolitan city. Next time we might not be so lucky. If we explore space we might be able to tell when a meteor is coming, where it will hit, and be able to evacuate the area. We might be able to stop it if we get some better and stronger technology!

Outer space makes up everything outside planet Earth and we are microscopic compared to the universe. We need to keep learning about space for the future – at minimum, so we can evacuate when the sun expands and consumes the Earth in a few billions years!