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Topic Title: E&T Magazine - Debate - Should we go back to the Moon?
Topic Summary: Should we go back to the Moon?
Created On: 24 October 2012 11:16 AM
Status: Read Only
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 24 October 2012 11:16 AM
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Joined: 16 May 2007

We must go back to the Moon and finish what we started.

Why is going back to the Moon with humans important? To answer this we have to look at why we went there in the first place. It's been 40 years since we last put a foot on another planet and we've not set foot anywhere since. It's well known that the driver for the Apollo programme was a Cold War race, but a lesser-known fact is that there was initially a serious scientific purpose behind it.Nasa's original reason to go to the Moon was to read the missing pages of the geological book on our planet, where very few rocks go back much beyond the Cambrian. But with the Moon there is a complete record of the bombardment period and further back. And this was the scientific reason upon which the proposition of sending men to the Moon was founded. But that was soon forgotten as it became simply about beating the Russians, which we know happened in the subsequent missions that landed 12 men on the Moon.

Mars is the real deal now.

Do we need to go to the Moon first, as some of the Apollo moon-walkers suggest, and set up a base there? Or do we just focus on Mars and forget about going back to the Moon? Some of the astronauts I talk to say there is a benefit in going back to the Moon, while others say it is a waste of money because we only have limited resources and this will delay our attempts on Mars. Buzz Aldrin has proposed a Mars Cycler that will relay between the two planets, taking about five months to complete a single journey. His only question is: what are we waiting for? Mars is the real deal. This is where we will get our 21st Century rocket heroes, our new Neil Armstrong and our new Buzz Aldrin.
 13 November 2012 01:11 AM
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For & against debates are great, I love them, they help me & like minded people crystallise and refine our opinions, they are especially effective in the world of science where what is left standing is probably true.

BUT in the field of human endeavour, politics or even deciding which film to watch together, many prefer a less adversarial approach to the discussion. So how about we make lots & lots of moon rovers and send these robots on cheap one way missions to do the moon science that still needs doing, especially on the far (not dark!!) side. In the process, how about constructing a comms network & solar energy energy robot recharge grid. Then when we are really good at the remote construction technologies, the experience will be invaluable to transfer to Mars making it safe, healthy and comfortable for people to follow. A spin-off benefit would be the fertile material for Sci-Fi authors.

Incidentally, does anyone know why Curiosity's rocket crane was crashed rather than landed at safe distance away? The parts could have been useful later (OK much later!) or curiosity could simply learn more about the ageing of mission materials in the Martian atmosphere without the crash complicating things. Maybe it was a crater excavation exercise, anyhow if it has not already happened, Curiosity should visit what is left of big brother (regularly?) and send us a diary entry.
 06 December 2012 10:48 AM
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On the subject of the skycrane I believe it came down to Fuel - it didn't carry enough due to weight restraints for a controlled landing so the only real option was to fire the thrusters enough so it would clear the landing site and crash somewhere where it wouldn't damage the rover. In the end they actually had a lot more fuel left than they had planned for so maybe it was a possibility but a landing capability just hadn't been designed in.

Interesting to note that NASA are now planning Curisoty MKII built on the same platform but with different/uprated instrumentation and that given the lifespan of the RTG in Curiosity there is actually a chance that the two rovers could meet! Also would be fun, although massively unlikely due to distances, if curiosity could meet spirit, opportunity or sojourner.

Jake Greenland, CEng MIET.
CCIE #22595

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