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Aerospace Engineering or Planetary Science?

  1. Mar 8, 2012 #1
    This is a decision that I realized that it's coming to now. Deciding which is proving to be difficult. They both occupy two sides of the same coin.

    Factors I am considering:

    I prefer application to direct observation, but I like both quite a lot.

    I just love various bodies in space: they're other worlds. I would like to know a lot more about them and I think I would absolutely love a job as a planetary scientist to the point at which I would obsess over my work. That is to say, I'd be making a pretty swift (would violently determined be a good way of stating it?) beeline for a job in which I can actually propose experiments to understand something new about the bodies in our solar system. I might actually try out geophysics, or include that into my studies so that I'd be a better candidate for specific types of planetary science involving the geology of the bodies in the solar system.

    But, on the other hand, I would like nothing more than to be a catalyst in manned space exploration. This latter option appears to be a more difficult path. Manned space exploration is the key. While I find rocketry amazing, I also have somewhat of a distaste for it because as a technology it's horrendously impractical. But it's the only thing we have.

    So, if I was to switch my major from physics over to aerospace engineering, I'd be making a pretty direct route towards research engineering in things that are either directly related to manned space exploration or things that are partly related to it, such as hypothetical staged vehicles (i.e. scramjets). But seeing the track record for funding thus far is discouraging to this type of career path. Then again, things may be picking up again, and I'd have many years yet to go before I'd even be able to apply for a job in either field. There are jobs in this area, but they seem to be pretty rare.

    And I know that in the end this truly is my decision, but I would like more insight.
  2. jcsd
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