Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Memorandum 74

Submission from Daniela Garelick, Medical Student


  Involvement in space exploration is important in order to help answer fundamental scientific questions, advance scientific understanding of technology, medicine and other related sciences. It also provides unique training opportunities and skills for those involved, and helps inspire the younger generation to become involved with the sciences.

  I am a medical student studying at University College London. I have taken a BSc in Physiology and Pharmacology, which included a module on Space and Extreme environment medicine. I found this subject hugely interesting and it has resulted in me gaining the opportunity to spend four weeks in NASA, Kennedy Space Centre Florida for my medical elective. The study of Space medicine has greatly increased my understanding of physiology. It has also taught me about having to create novel approaches to research, a skill that will help me in whatever field I enter into.

  I believe that the British government should invest in areas related to Space exploration. This would be advantageous for the general population, the scientific community and British industry.


  1.  Space exploration currently has its sights set on Mars, primarily to look for signs of life. The importance of the question "is there life on other planets?" cannot be underestimated.

  1.1  One of the most fundamental questions humankind can ask is what is the basis of life? If we are able to find and to study life, which has originated from an environment other than Earth, it may bring us closer to answering that fundamental question.

  2.  However, space exploration has many more benefits than striving to answer scientific/philosophical questions. Involvement in space related activities have more practical implications.

  2.1  Space medicine offers a unique environment in which to study human physiology and has resulted in a much greater understanding of this subject. Our greater knowledge of bone physiology, for example, has lead to novel interventions for conditions such as osteoporosis, which will be of benefit to millions of people.

  2.2  These advances in research are also applicable to technology, especially material science that has massive commercial implications.

  Currently, since Britain is not involved in space activities it is unable to utilise any of these advances. There is also increasingly commercial interest in space flight and British government involvement would increase commercial investment in Britain.

  3.  The knowledge itself is not the only asset to be gained. British involvement in space activities will give unique training to the personnel involved. This will enable them to provide innovative approaches to their sciences.

  3.1  Not least, space exploration inspires enthusiasm and the imagination of the young, generating great interest in the related sciences. This is particularly important at a time when interest in subjects such as physics is at an all time low. As a medical student, I found that studying space medicine was an exciting experience that has inspired me to get involved with research.

November 2006

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