Make Space for Data from Space

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Click to learn more about author Carie Lemack.

Data from space is no longer the stuff of outer space. That is, space-based data is very valuable to a multitude of industries. From sending payloads into orbit to performing experiments aboard the International Space Station, from launching rockets to having private citizens rocket their projects into deep space––all of these things, and more, should reshape how we prioritize data.

We have a responsibility, then, to ensure this data enters the classrooms and boardrooms of America. We need to teach people how to read and write this language, which has a grammar all its own. We need to translate this data into the vernacular of the workplace, until workers can translate this content on their own.

But translate it they must, as there is no way to avoid––and there is no reason not to accept––the importance of space-based data. Indeed, data may very well save us from ourselves; given the environmental challenges we face and the economic competition we confront; given the fact that the only way to solve these problems is to first recognize that a solution exists; given the fact that we cannot use this solution, unless we know how and where to find it.

The solution starts, as I am wont to say, with teachers and students. It continues as continuing education for those who have already graduated from high school or college. It must not end, however, before it has a chance to begin; which is to say it must not be the language of the elite, by the elite, for the elite.

It must be a universal language––the language of how we understand the universe––so we can expand opportunities for all. It must be a means to a greater end that transcends matters of race, class, or gender. It must assuage anxiety about the future with awareness that everyone has a chance for a better future, in part, because of space-based data.

I want readers, therefore, to know that changes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can be our stem––a mighty stalk––from the earth to the heavens. The earthly rewards will be visible in everything from health care to how we care for ourselves, from our care of the planet to our concern for the health of humankind. The humanity of data rests, in other words, with our ability to humanize this discussion.

Practicality is important, yes, but more important is the personalization of data. That is, when people have a stake in the outcome of the collection and analysis of data, the more likely they are to want to learn as much as they can––as soon as they can––about how to maximize the value of data.

Space-based data is a catalyst for enjoying those benefits. It is a reminder, too, that what happens in space determines our place on Earth, strengthening or weakening our prospects, or leaving us with few or no prospects whatsoever. To prevent such a scenario, we need to embrace space-based data. We need to spread this data worldwide.

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