chapter  1
Otherworldly Anthropology: Past, Present, and Future Contributions of Ethnographers to Space Exploration
ByJo Aiken
Pages 15

Space exploration is a uniquely human activity. As we continue to push the limits of exploring the unknown, our knowledge of what it means to be human and our capacity for supporting human life beyond the comforts of our Earthly home continues to evolve. Scientists and engineers develop new technologies and advancements in medicine in order to support life among the stars. Likewise, social scientists aid space agencies in understanding human behavior so that astronauts and cosmonauts are selected and trained for mission success. Social science, particularly through ethnography, also aids space explorers who must learn to utilize the new technologies and medical advances in the extreme environment of space while becoming accustomed to life as a space community. It is important that researchers address these challenges so that human survival beyond Earth is not only achievable but so that life among the stars is worth living and sustaining. Ethnography is a useful tool for obtaining an insider’s perspective and holistic viewpoint on the life of the space explorer. Through the application of ethnography and cultural knowledge, anthropologists are uniquely suited to address such topics and help extend the trajectory of space exploration as well as our understanding of humanity to new horizons.