11 Potential Benefits of Exploring Deep Space

istock
istock

The cosmos is endlessly fascinating because of the mysteries it contains, but with exploration, we’re getting ever closer to shedding some light on the dark corners of space (or should we say, dark matters). Missions in the coming years hope to unlock secrets of extraterrestrial life, the early days of the solar system, and what might be in store for our precious home planet.

1. Valuable Geology Lessons

As much as we rely on space to thrill us with its inherent otherness, many of the benefits of exploring realms outside of Earth have to do with discovering what makes us similar to our cosmic brethren. Mars and Earth have some common characteristics, so if we can get there to explore, it may be a powerful teaching tool on the geological evolution of our own planet.

2. Life Outside of Earth

The possibility of extraterrestrial life has captured the imagination of the human race since the human race was able to imagine. While a fully-formed, highly intelligent, and pacific alien species would be a pretty neat discovery, more realistically, scientists hope to soon find evidence of past life or simply the promise of it. Methane and evidence of an ancient freshwater lake found on Mars mean that alien life might have been on our neighbor planet all along.

3. Life Beyond Earth

We still don’t know whether life beyond Earth’s orbit is feasible, but astronauts are increasingly testing the waters. They’re taking longer missions and taking up residence in space for months at a time, all of which is teaching scientists about how humans can not only survive, but thrive in the environs of deep space.

4. Answers To Lifes Big Questions

Perhaps the biggest question, actually: Scientists are still trying to figure out what the early days of our solar system looked like. Upcoming missions into the outer reaches of the solar system aim to shed some light on the formation of our home and what things were like in the good old days.

5. Personal Relationships with Asteroids (On Our Terms)

In the next few decades, scientists hope to visit a nearby asteroid, harness it, and redirect it into orbit around the moon. Then, astronauts can take samples from these remnants of the early universe to study back on Earth. Additionally, a cataclysmic asteroid impact isn’t just the stuff of movies; it’s a real life possibility (don’t panic though, there’s nothing currently on its way). Future missions into outer space will work toward observing asteroid systems, testing defensive measures, and hopefully, coming away with possible solutions if, someday, a giant piece of space rock starts barreling its way toward Earth.

6. And Comets, Too

Last year, scientists successfully landed a probe on one of these dusty ice balls (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko). Studying them is forcing scientists to reconsider the origin of liquid water on Earth, and could point to the origins of the organic compounds that served as building blocks for life. It’s possible that all the life on our Pale Blue Dot is thanks to a delivery system in the form of a billions-of-years-old visitor of the early solar system.

7. Discovering the Nature of Dark Matter

So-called dark matter has been the big head-scratcher of the physics world since it was first theorized. The stuff that takes up over a quarter of the universe is invisible to us, but now it seems we might be close to understanding and even creating the stuff. As researchers continue to make observations, map dark matter in the cosmos, and chart its behavior, facts about this hugely important component of our world become less opaque. A better understanding could someday allow scientists to know how and why our universe is composed the way it is.

8. Technology, Technology, Technology

The technology developed for space exploration has and will continue to extend to myriad other things. Image processing moved from the moon to the medical field, and technological advancements in cancer treatment, solar panels, lightweight materials, digital data storage, water purification, and satellite communication systems have all come from space programs and exploration. Not to mention memory foam! Who knows what sort of incredible advancements (and creature comforts) are in store for the future.

9. A Good Economy

Sound financial systems might not be as sexy as dark matter, but they’re a real byproduct of exploration initiatives. The space travel machine is comprised of many different cogs employing many different people, and on top of that, it encourages careers in science and engineering, creates new business, and rewards innovation. There’s also the added bonus of global partnerships among us humans, which seems like a good idea while we’re out seeking extraterrestrials.

10. Private Space Jaunts

The space race in the private sector is at an unparalleled point in history. While government-run deep space exploration is a bit different from say, a leisurely afternoon trip to the stars, the shared technology is helping to push the dream of recreational space flight into reality. We’re still a ways off from field trips to the moon, but as we push to the outer reaches of the solar system, space becomes more accessible at home for everyone.

11. Awesome Robots!

When it comes to hands-on exploration, robots are where it’s at. They’re able to travel far, collect samples, and do valuable reconnaissance work. In the future, they’ll be our partners in cosmic exploration. As robots get better, we’ll get better, and we’ll even be able to apply robot technology here on Earth.

Trips to Mars. A civilian space taxi. A jet that travels at hypersonic speeds. Learn how Boeing is advancing space exploration at Boeing.com.

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These Rugged Steel-Toe Boots Look and Feel Like Summer Sneakers

Indestructible Shoes
Indestructible Shoes

Thanks to new, high-tech materials, our favorite shoes are lighter and more comfortable than ever. Unfortunately, one thing most sneakers are not is durable. They can’t protect your feet from the rain, let alone heavy objects. Luckily, as their name implies, Indestructible Shoes has come up with a line of steel-toe boots that look and feel like regular sneakers.

Made to be incredibly strong but still lightweight, every pair of Indestructible Shoes has steel toes, skid-proof grips, and shock-absorption technology. But they don't look clunky or bulky, which makes them suitable whether you're going to work, the gym, or a family gathering.

The Hummer is Indestructible Shoes’s most well-rounded model. It features European steel toes to protect your feet, while the durable "flymesh" material wicks moisture to keep your feet feeling fresh. The insole features 3D arch support and extra padding in the heel cup. And the outsole features additional padding that distributes weight and helps your body withstand strain.

Indestructible Shoes Hummer.
The Hummer from Indestructible Shoes.
Indestructible Shoes

There’s also the Xciter, Indestructible Shoes’s latest design. The company prioritized comfort for this model, with the same steel toes as the Hummer, but with additional extra-large, no-slip outsoles capable of gripping even smooth, slippery surfaces—like, say, a boat deck. The upper is made of breathable moisture-wicking flymesh to help keep your feet dry in the rain or if you're wearing them on the water.

If you want a more breathable shoe for the peak summer months, there's the Ryder. This shoe is designed to be a stylish solution to the problem of sweaty feet, thanks to a breathable mesh that maximizes airflow and minimizes sweat and odor. Meanwhile, extra padding in the midsole will keep your feet protected.

You can get 44 percent off all styles if you order today.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Worst Drivers In America Live in These 15 States

Life of Pix, Pexels
Life of Pix, Pexels

No matter how many times you've been cut off on a road trip, anecdotal evidence alone can't prove that a certain state's drivers are worse than yours. For that, you need statistics. The personal finance company SmartAsset compiled data related to bad driving behaviors to create this list of the 15 states in America with the worst drivers.

This ranking is based on four metrics: the number of fatalities per 100 million miles driven in each state, DUI arrests per 1000 drivers, the percentage of uninsured drivers, and how often residents Google the terms “speeding ticket” or “traffic ticket.”

Mississippi ranks worst overall, with the second-highest number of fatalities and the second lowest percentage of insured drivers. This marked the third year in a row Mississippi claimed the bottom slot in SmartAsset's worst driver's list. This year, it's followed by Nevada in second place and Tennessee in third. You can check out the worst offenders in the country in the list below.

Some motorists may be more interested in avoiding the cities plagued by bad driving than the states. These two categories don't always align: Oregon, which didn't crack the top 10 states with the worst drivers, is home to Portland, the city with the worst drivers according to one quote comparison site. After reading through the list of states, compare it to the cities with the worst drivers in America here.

  1. Mississippi
  1. Nevada
  1. Tennessee
  1. Florida
  1. California
  1. Arizona
  1. South Carolina (Tie)
  1. Texas (Tie)
  1. New Mexico
  1. Alaska
  1. Louisiana
  1. Alabama
  1. Oregon
  1. Arkansas
  1. Colorado