Space is beautiful, fascinating, and challenging.

These three characteristics combined are the reason why space has inspired and motivated some of the most incredible accomplishments and discoveries that humanity has ever seen.

Across disciplines, space attracts curious minds and challenges them to set their sights higher. And beyond the scientific community, space offers a unique avenue for ordinary people to engage with science and the awe and insights that science offers.

Space’s ability to inspire and engage people is among the many reasons that space matters.

Artist’s rendition of Saturn viewed through Titan’s hazy atmosphere. Image credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

Kate Howells is a science communicator and advocate. She works for The Planetary Society, an internationally active non-profit organization that aims to empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration. She is the author of Space is Cool as F***.

Image credit: Navid Baraty for The Planetary Society

For kids and adults alike, space is a subject that engages and excites.

The beauty of the cosmos can stir an artist’s creativity; the mysteries of the universe can motivate a career in science or mathematics; the endless possibilities of the future of space can provide fodder for a writer’s work; the ingenuity that it takes to explore space can inspire a path in engineering. Whatever direction a person is inclined to take in their life, whatever their passion, space can help propel them to greater heights of achievement and creativity.

Even when space doesn’t influence a career path, it can still impact how a person sees the world. For many people science is something they weren’t good at in school, so they see it as something they can’t participate in today. And yet every person on this planet, regardless of their education, can look up at the night sky or see a high-res image of another planet and understand that the universe is amazing. You don’t need an in-depth understanding of space science to appreciate what it can show us. The experience of space as a window into science can be a powerfully positive one, changing attitudes toward science at large. And the more society at large embraces science, the better equipped we will be to tackle today’s global issues.

To maintain what space brings to society, we have to keep exploring. With new discoveries, new images, new inventions, we don’t just advance science and technology. We give people new ways to be inspired, new ways to engage with science. To me, this is just one of the many reasons why space matters.