Space science is a scientific discipline that involves the exploration of space and the phenomena that take place in it. It is a relatively young field that has flourished in the second half of the 20th century, and it has opened up a new dimension to the search for knowledge. Students who participate in space missions and the exploration of the solar system work in this area, and many are dedicated to this field. Astronomers study planets, stars, and galaxies by planning experiments and observations with telescopes located both on Earth and in space.
They design and build instruments, collect data, and use high-performance computers to improve and analyze that data. They also develop physical models to explain their observations. In addition to the United States and the Soviet Union, several other countries have succeeded in developing and operating scientific spaceships and carrying out their own scientific space missions. Space probes and unmanned satellites carry computers of varying degrees of sophistication on board, and even on manned missions, maneuvering spacecraft requires quick calculations and answers, available only through computerized devices.
Particle physics, fluid mechanics, plasma physics, and optics are some of the subdisciplines that play an important role in the space program. To carry out the necessary research to address these scientific issues, countries such as the United States, Europe, the Soviet Union, and Japan have developed a variety of space missions, often in a coordinated manner. The focus of research in space physics was later extended to understanding the characteristics of the Sun as an average star and as the main source of energy for the rest of the solar system, as well as exploring the space between the Sun and Earth and other planets (see interplanetary environment). Space scientists can specialize in many different fields related to the study of space, planets, and life in the universe such as astrophysics, biology, chemistry, geology, meteorology, and physics.
The data can come from satellites, telescope images, experiments on the International Space Station, field work in different regions of Earth or even heavenly bodies that have fallen to Earth. However, most space science is still carried out by robotic spaceships in Earth orbit or on missions to various bodies in the solar system. In addition, a spacecraft enters the atmosphere at a shallow angle to avoid friction caused by excessively high speeds. Variations in space weather can cause geomagnetic storms that interfere with the operation of satellites and even terrestrial systems such as power grids.