Mr ChimChim: Hello and welcome to the Unnamed Show with me- Mr ChimChim. Today we will be debate the widely discussed topic of space exploration and are lucky enough to be joined by two amazing guests- Miss Lina Rose and Alexia Carvenero, space scientists at NASA. Hello to both of you.
Lina and Alexia: Hello
Mr ChimChim: Before we start talking about cost, I’ll start the discussion by asking this: do either of you have any examples of how beneficial space exploration has been?
Lina: Well first of all, space exploration has indeed been helpful to our every day lives. It has helped us by improving cancer treatment technology, supporting breast cancer detection and even supporting in the development of a water purification system that it used in many countries around the world, therefore improving the lives of many.
Mr ChimChim: Alexia, let’s come to you. You have argued that exploring space is worthless when compared to other more important world issues such as curing disease and providing everyone with clean drinking water. Can you expand on this?
Alexia: Thank you, Chim. I want to start by simply reiterating how dangerous space exploration is, without too many benefits to life on earth today. Spending any prolonged amount of time in space can be seriously detrimental to an astronaut’s health- muscle and bone loss for example due to a lack of gravity. And what is our most important muscle? The heart… which would be a critical issue if you wanted to explore the surface of mars, for instance. People need to be more aware of these possible issues before they start throwing around such ambitious ideas for the future of space exploration. They may simply not be possible!
Mr ChimChim: And the cost, Alexia? I know this is something you’ve spoken about a lot.
Alexia: Yes, Chim. $150 billion dollars so far on the ISS alone. That’s a lot of money, and for what? A bit of research here, a few photographs there… Too much money and not enough impact in my opinion.
Lina: I understand your concerns, Alexia, but the ISS has contributed in many ways, possible unbeknown to many others.
Mr ChimChim: Tell us more, Lina.
Lina: Well let me give two examples. Firstly: the improvements in clean, drinkable water. As I’m sure you are both aware, drinkable water is essential for human survival but unfortunately many people around the world lack access to clean water. Using technology developed for the space station, at-risk areas can gain access to water filtration and purification systems. A life saving difference, wouldn’t you admit?
Mr ChimChim: And the second example?
Lina: The way it is used to monitor natural disasters. Aboard the station there is an imaging system that has captured photographs of Earth from space for use in developing countries that are affected by natural disasters. These images can help with rapid response efforts to floods, fires, deforestation and other natural events, therefore allowing those back on Earth to provide appropriate support quickly and efficiently.
Mr ChimChim: Thank you for sharing that, Lina. Another topic that you talk a lot about, Alexia, is the possible dangers space exploration has for the Earth…
Alexia: This is something that is not very widely discussed amongst those involved in space exploration but it is something that I feel very passionate about. Infectious disease.
Mr ChimChim: You mean like the common cold?
Alexia: In a way, but I think it’s a little more serious than that. The ISS, for example, is packed full of bacteria and fungi that could harm astronauts. I am aware that astronauts heading into space take lots of precautions to reduce the risk of illness, but what would happen if we were to travel to another planet- Mars, for example? Nobody knows whether there is microbial life on Mars today but, if this is, it is likely to be tucked underground.
Mr ChimChim: Out of harm’s way, then…
Alexia: The complete opposite, in fact. If people want to tap into the planet’s resources, such as nutrients and energy, they are likely to dig underground, therefore being exposed to Martian microbes. Microbes that have may well have no treatment or cure. And if those microbes were to be brought back to Earth… well, who knows how bad that could be!
Mr ChimChim: Isn’t that all a little unlikely though, Alexia?
Alexia: Perhaps. But my question is: is it worth the risk?
Lina: You talk about the dangers, Alexia, but what about the opportunities? Our search in space could lead us to other Earth-like planets that might produce water and have the right atmosphere to support human life. The more we search, the more likely we are to find these planets. A future home, perhaps? Or simply to find others out there who are like us. Isn’t that exciting?!
Alexia: What’s exciting is the thoughts of a world free of disease… or a world where everyone has access to clean water… or a world where nobody has to go hungry… If even some of the money we spent on space exploration was invested here, these things could become a possibility at some point in the future.
Mr ChimChim: Thank you very much to both of you. Now it’s the audience’s turn. If you would like to share you thoughts or put your questions to either of these lovely ladies, the address and telephone number are up on the screen. But for now, goodnight to everyone.
For this news broadcast, we used the following BNC skills:
SCEPTICISM: We researched the facts and asked questions to find out what might influence the viewpoints of both our characters. We broke the arguments down into parts and thought about how we could use specific facts to back up each point.
REASONING: We tried to build detailed arguments for both our characters, thinking about what evidence was available to back up both points of view.
OPENMINDEDNESS: We took on roles of people with opinions that were different to ours and tried to think openly about why they might feel a particular way.
SPEAKING UP: When presenting our broadcast, we tried to speak confidently and and clearly to ensure everyone understood both sides of the argument.