Dive Into the Blue or Into the Black?



NASA’s annual budget is over $24 billion, but should more of that spending go toward exploration of the oceans rather than space?

Delia Coelho, Junior Chief Advocate

WOODBURY — You’ve probably heard of this debate: Which should the government fund, space exploration or ocean exploration? Ever since the world recognized the climate crisis, interest in space increased as people hoped to find a planet capable of sustaining life if Earth became uninhabitable.

Scientists and engineers at NASA have devoted themselves to missions such as colonizing Mars, exploring the deep reaches of space and more. However, many others think ocean exploration should be funded.

The common viewpoint is that little is known about our oceans, and scientists should focus on our planet before seeing new ones. Does one receive more funding? Is one more popular? Or do one form’s reasons simply outweigh the other?

The Matter of Money

So, how much is currently being spent on these programs? In the current fiscal year, Congress approved about $24 billion of funding to NASA. This money has gone to many projects and endeavors.

Over the past few years, NASA has done several important missions, such as the landing of the Perseverance Rover on Mars and, more recently, the launch of the Webb Space Telescope. In the near future, NASA plans to land the first woman on the moon.

On the other hand, it is estimated that $231.5 million are spent on ocean endeavors.

During dives into the deep ocean, scientists discovered a mammoth tusk. The Deepsea Challenger, a large submersible, made its way to the ocean floor.

It is already apparent that more money is spent on space exploration. Is the issue that ocean exploration simply doesn’t get enough money?

Joshua Kornblut, an eighth-grade science teacher at Woodbury Middle School and former Maritime Aquarium employee, expressed his views on ocean exploration.

“I don’t know what we spend on it, but I know it isn’t enough,” he says.

Reason or Popularity?

Is one form of exploration simply more popular than the other? Or does one side’s reasoning overpower the other? In a survey of 64 WMS eighth-graders, 65.6% of the students favored ocean exploration.

“I think we should explore more of our ocean than space … we only explored about 5%,” says Lana Zupnick.

“I think this should be a top priority because oceans are such a big part of keeping our Earth in balance,” Kornblut agreed.

On the other side of the argument, many people favored space, as they believed it is important for humans to have another option if the climate cannot be controlled.

“Space exploration should be funded because we may need that in the future if Earth becomes unfit to live on,” Grace Rubacha said. “Also, space exploration would open many opportunities to create new technologies that we would be able to harness on Earth.”

“You can report history, or you can be a part of it,” says NASA employee Laurie Cantillo, a media liaison of NASA’s Office of Communications, who was inspired by that quote to go above and beyond in her future.

Now What?

On one hand, Earth may not last forever. If humanity is to survive, we may need other options.

Many people look to the stars, hoping to explore the endless universe that stretches for eternity. Meanwhile, over 80% of the ocean is unexplored.

Many aspire to dive deep into the cold, crushing blackness and solve the remaining mysteries of the planet we call home. Whether we leave our planet or stay on it, both environments hold secrets that will revolutionize the way we live forever.