The study of outer space is interesting to many people because of the intriguing mystery of what exists beyond the boundaries of earth. In the United States, the most prestigious way to study space is by joining National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA has four major groups called aeronautics, exploration systems, science and space operations, and to be able to join these groups and work as an astronaut, scientist or engineer you need a college degree. There are various college degrees that can be taken to academically prepare for a career in a space-related field.
Degree in Aerospace Engineering
Getting a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering can be one way to achieve your dreams of being an astronaut. On this course, students learn and design aeronautic and aerospace vehicles, such as aircrafts, spacecrafts, space shuttles and space stations. They study a variety of topics from basic principles of thermodynamics and avionics to more specialized studies of spacecraft systems, propulsion systems, telecommunications and flight and orbital mechanics. As an astronaut with NASA, a person can work as a mission commander, space shuttle pilot or mission specialist. A graduate of aerospace engineering can also work as a researcher or an engineer under NASA’s other divisions.
Degree in Mechanical Engineering
A degree in mechanical engineering is can also be applied in space-related fields. To be able to send missions into space, the space craft undergoes several designs and tests to ensure safety and reliability. At NASA, the exploration systems division takes care of the field tests, system design and advanced research. Mechanical engineers help to attain this goal by working on the development of structures and vehicles to be deployed in space—specifically related to the construction materials, moving parts, automation, robotics and control instruments.
Degree in Electrical Engineering
The electrical power of spacecrafts and space stations also attracts a different set of engineers. A person equipped with a degree in electrical engineering is needed to ensure the proper operation of these space vehicles, which are designed to operate for extended periods of time without the need for regular maintenance. The study of electrical engineering starts with a basic understanding of integrated circuits, power systems, communication systems and computers. More advanced topics follow, such as electrical circuits, computer programming, engineering mechanics, numerical analysis and other related principles.
Degree in Physics
Aside from being an astronaut or an engineer, you can also study space by being a scientist or a researcher. A degree in physics or astrophysics provides a good foundation for a career in the study of space. Physics deals with a wide range of topics from the tiniest atomic particles to the structure of nature and space. To become a space scientist or researcher, a student needs to learn the many areas of physics with a specialization in astronomy, astrophysics, space physics or geophysics, as all can play a key role in the study of the universe.