Provocation: Why go to space when the world’s oceans are at our feet?

Andrew Maynard (left), associate dean for student success in the College of Global Futures, gathered ocean and space experts to ask: Why go to space when the world’s oceans are at our feet? He was joined by Timiebi Aganaba, assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society; Damian Grundle, biogeochemical oceanographer at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; Susanne Neuer, professor in the School of Life Sciences; and Jim Bell, professor of planetary science in School of Earth & Space Exploration.

By Ayrel Clark-Proffitt

It’s Day 4 of Earth Week, and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory again ignited the day with its welcome provocation. Today, Andrew Maynard, associate dean for student success in the College of Global Futures, gathered ocean and space experts to ask: Why go to space when the world’s oceans are at our feet? He was joined by Timiebi Aganaba, assistant professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society; Jim Bell, professor of planetary science in School of Earth & Space Exploration; Damian Grundle, biogeochemical oceanographer at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences; and Susanne Neuer, professor in the School of Life Sciences.

“There are people who ask serious questions about where we put our research efforts and our research dollars,” Maynard noted.

Grundle took the bait, noting the massive disparity between the two fields in terms of funding, adding, “I think if we’re going to get serious about ocean research, we need to increase the money for technology.”

“We’ve sent more people to space than we’ve sent people to the bottom of the oceans. … What if, instead of a space race, it had been a deep sea race. Where would we be today in terms of our understanding of the ocean and the technology we have to go into the ocean and study it,” he added.

Despite the funding jab, it was widely acknowledged by all of the participants that humans must conduct extensive research in oceans and space to better understand Earth’s systems.

Bell said he is fascinated by extreme environments, and that is something that the deep ocean and deep space have in common.

“You go to the bottom of the ocean floor and go out into space–those environments are trying to kill you in so many ways,” he said. “We’re not meant for those environments, we don’t belong there. We send probes or use special technologies to get out into those places and put people at great risk to explore, to know, to inspire and to educate.”

Aganaba, who started her career as a lawyer for the Nigerian space agency, reminded the audience–and other panelists–that it is essential to take a critical approach when discussing science and technology.

“We hear that space is so awe inspiring. Who created that narrative and in what context is it inspiring?” she questioned. “I spend my time thinking about that little African girl or that little African boy–is space exploration innate in him or her, or is it just because in America, everyone watches Star Trek and Star Wars, so all of a sudden, this is such an important thing.”

Bell revealed later in the conversation that he does love Star Trek.

In many ways, space exploration kicked off the environmental movement, Neuer added, as we got glimpses of our ocean planet sent back from space. Looking down from beyond our atmosphere, humans saw the “blue marble.” Earth should really be called Oceanos, Neuer said.

Watch the whole conversation–and all Global Futures Laboratory Earth Week events–at the Global Futures Laboratory YouTube page. If you are available, attend events in person. Get the details on the Global Futures Laboratory website.

--

--

--

Designing and shaping a future in which Earth will thrive.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Self implies Other

DNA — how can you monetise the new gold?

The Blood and Flesh of.. Some Germs

What if Oxygen vanishes for just 5 seconds

Science -changing from Dogma to objectivity

Fear-based marketing does not serve the public well.

What does it mean to be a Christian and Scientist?

Which-Way-2D-Cross-Double-Slit Experiments

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory

ASU Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory

Designing and shaping a future in which Earth will thrive.

More from Medium

Could Melting Moon Rocks be the New Process for Extracting Precious Metals?

Melting Moon Rocks be the New Process for Extracting Metals

A Brief History of AeroCubes, the Aerospace CubeSat Program

Announcing the Closest and Farthest Objects from Outside Our Cosmic Neighborhood in the Same Week

How James Webb could detect alien civilizations?