"I want to be an astronaut when I grow up."
At some point, every kid would've uttered these words. We were full of dreams to explore the unknown, but we were oblivious to how it would merrily remain a dream for most of us.
As we "grew up," we become busy with our "day-to-day lives."
However, with the images of Pluto from NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft, the deep, buried dream of being an astronaut has resurfaced.
We might have become adults and found our passions as businessmen, doctors, engineers or artists, but if there's one thing common to all of us on this planet, it's our fascination with what lies beyond.
Maybe the urge to satisfy our desire to solve the mysteries of the universe and answer questions about our origins is innate.
"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
These words were uttered by Neil Armstrong as he stepped on the moon in 1969.
Forty-five years later, we've progressed even further in space exploration, which has been supplemented by advancements in technology and a better understanding of the sciences.
The images obtained of Pluto from the New Horizons Spacecraft after 10 years of travel is an incredible achievement and extremely significant for the following reasons:
1. The technology being developed can inspire inventions useful back on Earth.
Space exploration has sometimes been looked at as a quest to satiate our curiosity, to solve the hidden mysteries of the world without any benefit to the human race. However, this is far from the truth.
Various technological advancements and inventions made in the space industry can be used to improve life on Earth. For instance, the technology developed for reliable communications in space helped in developing the GPS systems we rely on today.
Solar panels, which were once used solely to power satellites, are now being used all across the world to generate renewable electricity.
These are just a couple of examples among many, which demonstrate how space missions can contribute to technological advancements on Earth.
2. It will provide information about our universe and raise some new questions.
The recent pictures of Pluto have revealed the planet might be geologically active, despite the absence of a strong gravitational force to prevent its atmosphere from escaping.
This has led some scientists to hypothesize other mechanisms that might be occurring on the planet.
Moreover, this is the first venture into the Kuiper belt, which might enable us to retrieve information about our universe during its time of origin 4.6 billion years ago.
The images obtained have already exceeded expectations, and they could provide numerous answers about Pluto and our universe.
3. It reminds us of our potential and inspires us to keep moving.
We've come a long way, but we have an even longer road ahead of us. This road is full of new discoveries and futuristic inventions to help us in our endeavor to explore space.
The field of space exploration is as challenging as it is fascinating.
Every new step ahead fuels our curiosity, and it reminds us of our potential to achieve what our ancestors might not have ever conceived.
4. It is the most humbling experience.
"I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small."
Neil Armstrong said these words when he looked at Earth from the moon.
They make us realize that in a potentially infinite universe, we are a mere heavenly body among millions of others.
5. It teaches us to never let go of the children inside of us.
As children, our dreams were larger than life, and our minds were full of questions about the world around us. Somewhere along the way, we lost our dreams, and our curiosity faded.
But, looking at the awe-inspiring pictures of Pluto has made us realize just how much there is to discover about the universe.
It has made us ask questions again, and it has inspired us to keep dreaming, inventing and moving forward.
6. It will motivate the youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The images of Pluto, and the plethora of information we are able to extract from them, will encourage young children to develop a scientific mind.
It will push them to pursue careers in the STEM fields and contribute to society.