Have you always wanted to be an astronaut? Are you fascinated by planets and galaxies far, far away? If so, you should consider studying for a career in space exploration.
Some of the coolest professions, like those that focus on space study and exploration, are in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields! Check out what you can do every day to make outer space seem a little bit closer and take one giant leap toward your dream of space study.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Dreaming of space travel or working for NASA? You can explore career options in both.
Even if you don’t feel like traveling to space is for you, there is a role for everyone interested in space research. If a spacesuit isn’t your style, you can study the movement of the planets and stars by becoming an astronomer, or run the countdown to launch in mission control back on Earth. Here are some careers with out-of-this-world possibilities:
- Rocket launch specialist
- Mission control manager
- Rocket scientist
Where STEM comes in
If you love the study of space, you may already know there are many aspects of STEM involved.
The study of space and space travel involves sciences including physics (the study of physical forces such as gravity), chemistry (the study of composition, structure and properties of matter) and biology (the study of life and living organisms). A physical understanding is essential for space study and travel as going to outer space is the ultimate physics project. Beyond Earth, you must explore what happens when the usual physical forces are very different.
Chemists can help determine and understand the chemical makeup of planets, asteroids, and other planetary bodies. Though we haven’t yet found life on other planets, a study of biology proves incredibly important to understanding the conditions that could sustain life.
Did you know there are even scientific fields that concentrate specifically on space? Planetary science (the study of planets, moons, and planetary systems) and astronomy (the study of celestial objects and phenomena) focus on bodies far beyond Earth.
Lastly, you can’t have space travel without calculations for proper fuel, propulsion, and the right launch angles. This is where math comes in. Math is an essential part of space study and exploration as so many variables must be determined precisely.
How you can explore space right now!
In addition to exploring space in your science and math classes, there are several activities you can take part in to continue your outer space studies. First: get outside and observe. Although telescopes are awesome for seeing the intricacies of planets or the craters of the moon, you don’t need one to follow the movements of the moon, stars and nearby planets.
Second, find others who are interested. Space travel has always held an appeal for adventurers, so odds are you can find someone else who wants to study and explore it with you. Check out your school or surrounding area for astronomy clubs or summer camps. NASA also runs camps and clubs for kids like you who want to go through space training. In addition, programs like have local clubs that focus on STEM fields so that you can build the knowledge you need to continue your study.
Space travel still seem a little far away? Bring it closer by seeing what the Hubble Space Telescope sees on the telescope’s website. If you want more online resources, your first stop should be NASA.gov. Not only does NASA have a great site on its own, but it also provides several portals for different interests. Check out Exoplanets, their site about searching for Earth-like planets beyond our solar system, and Space Place for games and quizzes.
Still want to learn more about space? National Geographic has an awesome Solar System 101. And, if you’re interested in the rockets that get people there, check out the website of the National Air and Space Museum.
Still curious about STEM topics and what kind of cool jobs you could have? Check out STEM-works for more information.