6 Careers in Space Science (Plus Benefits and Skills)
Updated August 29, 2022
For those interested in understanding how the universe works, there are many career opportunities available in space science. Professionals in this field perform research and craft new theories or technologies to enhance the public's understanding of the solar system. If you're interested in space science, you may have questions about the different jobs available and ways to pursue them. In this article, we explain what careers in space science are, highlight some job benefits, list sciences with career opportunities and discuss relevant skills for working in this field.
What is a career in space science?
A career in space science is a job in which an individual conducts research and analyzes data to study the planets, the solar system and other parts of the universe. These scientists interpret data to develop theories that advance collective knowledge and understanding of the universe. This field includes many types of sciences, including astronomy, physics and chemistry. Examples of space science professionals include astronauts, geologists, plasma physicists and climatologists.
Benefits of jobs in space science
People in this field can develop, test and analyze hypotheses that help develop advanced technology for exploring space. Their jobs may allow them to share what they learn with the public or other scientists in their field, which can increase collaboration on and confirmation of a scientific theory.
Careers in space science can also provide the opportunity for professionals to expand their knowledge beyond their respective fields. For example, planetary geologists and climatologists might work together to gain insight into how a planet's temperature may cause its structural composition to change in the future.
6 fields with career opportunities in space studies
There are many sciences that have opportunities for studying space. Here are six types:
Astronomy is the study of the planets, stars and galaxies that make up the universe. People working in astronomy may study phenomena such as black holes or gravitational waves. Using equipment like telescopes, astronomers collect data to explain scientific concepts about the universe or develop new tools and technology. Examples of jobs in astronomy include:
Stellar astronomers: They study the stars, their interactions and other components related to stars.
Cosmologists: These scientists study the possible origins and evolution of the entire universe.
Read more: Learn About Being an Astronomer
2. Atmospheric science
Atmospheric science is the study of a planet's atmosphere and how it affects the planet's function. Scientists in this area evaluate and interpret data to understand how a planet may evolve. They use equipment and computer programs, such as satellites and graphics software, to collect this data and demonstrate their findings. Atmospheric scientists may study factors like the ozone layer or develop concepts like climate change. Examples of jobs in atmospheric science include:
Atmospheric chemists: These scientists study the components and processes of the atmosphere.
Atmospheric dynamists: They study the interactions and motion systems that occur in the atmosphere.
Chemistry is the study of matter and the composition of planets and celestial objects. These scientists study atoms and molecules and analyze their interactions. They may use space probes to gather planetary information or telescopes to examine the composition of celestial objects. Examples of jobs in chemistry include:
Analytical chemists: They study the chemical structure of various substances on other planets.
Astrochemists: These scientists examine and analyze the chemical composition of stars and planets.
Geology is the study of materials that comprise planets. These scientists may use data from satellites or rovers to analyze planets' characteristics, such as their material structure and the physical processes that occur. Other professionals in this field may examine Earth's characteristics by studying images taken in space. Examples of jobs in geology include:
Geoscientists: These scientists study the composition of Earth and how it functions.
Planetary geologists: They study the structure of other planets in the solar system and how they change or develop.
Meteorology is the study of weather and climate on Earth and other planets. These scientists gather information to develop forecasts, which are reports that predict the conditions of the atmosphere at a specific time. They use computer programs, mathematical models or local data to conduct research and reach conclusions. Examples of jobs in meteorology include:
Climatologists: These scientists study a geographical area's historical weather patterns to predict future changes to the climate.
Research meteorologists: They conduct research to study weather patterns, which can improve understanding of climate and weather.
Physics is the study of the properties of matter, energy, space and time and how they interact. These scientists may develop hypotheses about natural properties and perform experiments to test those ideas. They can use telescopes or other instruments to study the properties of Earth or other parts of the universe. Examples of jobs in physics include:
Plasma physicists: These scientists study plasma, which is matter found in stars.
Astrophysicists: They apply the laws of physics to understand astronomical objects, such as stars and galaxies.
Read more: How To Become a Physicist
Skills for careers in space science
Aside from technical knowledge, here are some helpful skills to develop if you're interested in space science:
Many scientific professions involve working with other team members on a project or experiment. Collaboration can lead to innovative ideas and increased productivity, allowing for more comprehensive research. Knowing how to work in a team shows you can work productively with others to accomplish shared goals.
You use interpersonal skills to communicate and interact with others effectively. These skills, which include active listening, empathy and understanding body language, can help you explain complex topics in a clear, cohesive way. Interpersonal skills are helpful for jobs where you're expected to share your thoughts and discoveries with the public or other scientists.
Space science is an evolving field, and scientists are constantly conducting new research and developing theories to improve their understanding of the universe. For these reasons, adaptability is a key skill for anyone interested in space science. Adaptability means that you're able to adjust your beliefs and expectations based on new research or information.
Professionals in space science use their research to address problems and present answers. This can mean making adjustments quickly if the data being observed changes. Problem-solving skills, such as the ability to conduct research and make decisions, can help you identify potential solutions and implement strategies to find solutions. These skills show you can take action to achieve a goal.
Many careers in space science focus on complex topics or ideas, so critical thinking is a valuable skill. Critical thinking, which may include analysis and observation, shows you can examine information thoroughly to understand a problem and reach a conclusion. This can be important for jobs that require data interpretation and application to develop findings in a larger context.
Because there's still much to learn about the universe, it's important for anyone working in this area to have a curious mindset. This means you're an active learner. Curiosity leads scientists to ask questions and develop plausible theories, which is a critical focus of many jobs in space exploration.
Tips for pursuing roles in space science
If you're considering a career in space science, here are some tips:
Take STEM classes
Taking STEM classes—classes in science, technology, engineering and math—can help you develop a broad perspective on the different areas of space science. Taking a range of these classes can also help you determine which areas of space science you may wish to pursue.
Seek internships or volunteer opportunities
Consider applying for internships or volunteer opportunities related to space science. Search online for any businesses, organizations or museums that may provide you with relevant experience. Include these experiences on your resume to show future employers your passion for and commitment to space science.
There are many other ways to learn more about your field of interest. Read books, watch television shows or visit museums to expand your knowledge on the different sciences related to space. There may be extracurricular activities to encourage your interests, such as a chemistry club or space camp. These types of activities can introduce you to others interested in space science and provide valuable networking opportunities.
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