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European Scientists Make a Case For a Return To the Moon

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  • We're still /. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @08:33PM (#40278693)
    Please link to the actual journal submission [arxiv.org], not some article from the Yahoo! Contributor Network...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot

      Yeah -- sorry about that, now fixed. I'd deleted it (the Yahoo version was wrapped in a spammy wrapper), inadvertently not put in the clean version until just now.

      timothy

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Nimey (114278)

      Is sir of the opinion that /. ever had standards?

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Is sir of the opinion that /. ever had standards?

        Believe it or not, but Slashot has set many standards.
        Not lately, no.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Stargoat (658863) *

        Slashdot was once the gold standard of IT information websites. The community was vibrant and rambunctious. It was interesting, funny, and frustrating. I'm not entire sure what happened. Maybe the Internet grew up around us. Like the Old West, someone fenced the cowboys away. Maybe we got rid of the goofs that were our necessary yeast. Dunno. But it's not the same Slashdot it was a decade ago.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @08:41PM (#40278747) Homepage Journal

    Since "European" scientists are in board, maybe the Obama administration will agree to it.

    LK

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Maybe the europeans can get some governments with brains that aren't enamoured with self destructive austerity and fund it themselves as a giant european wide jobs programme.

      Which is basically what EADS is already, so it's just throwing more money at them.

      • by khallow (566160)
        I still don't know why they're calling it "austerity" instead of "prosperity". Seems a really bad propaganda fumble. The whole point is some short term sacrifice now so that the countries in question can have a great economic future. "Austerity" emphasizes the cod liver oil swallowing part of the process, not the goal.

        For a more successful example of propaganda, take "jobs programme". They'd probably fund more jobs just dropping money out of helicopters (or doing nothing for that matter). But it conveys
        • by Sir_Sri (199544)

          Because it's cutting peoples jobs and income, which is making them less prosperous, which is reducing spending, which is making everyone else less prosperous, which is, in turn reducing government revenue, leaving them less money to pay people and having to cut more, making the economic future look bleaker, and less prosperous.

          The whole point is that short term sacrifice has destroyed greece, caused a double dip recession in the UK, and left all of europe wallowing in a debt crisis they can't get out of bec

          • by khallow (566160)

            Because it's cutting peoples jobs and income

            That's an interesting assertion. You have evidence that that's going to happen? I see instead that some pretty dumb policies have borne fruit in Greece as well as elsewhere. All I can say is that if a little short term sacrifice can destroy Greece, then I don't see the point of the country. Just end it and come up with something better.

            The double dip recession is a classic sign of what happens when you bail out banks and other failed businesses rather than end them. Often they fail again (the second dip)

            • by Sir_Sri (199544)

              That's an interesting assertion. You have evidence that that's going to happen?

              Uh... what exactly do you think austerity is? We can't have our own facts here. Cutting spending means slashing salaries and laying people off. It doesn't mean anything else. It's not *going* to happen, that *is happening* that's what austerity is. If you cancel and order for a ship then the people who were going to make the ship don't have a job anymore. If you lay off a teacher they aren't a teacher anymore. In good economic times they transition to the private sector. In bad economic times they

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          I still don't know why they're calling it "austerity" instead of "prosperity".

          Because it will take 20 years of austerity before Europe returns to prosperity.

        • by arth1 (260657)

          I still don't know why they're calling it "austerity" instead of "prosperity". Seems a really bad propaganda fumble. The whole point is some short term sacrifice now so that the countries in question can have a great economic future. "Austerity" emphasizes the cod liver oil swallowing part of the process, not the goal.

          It's not what you call it that's the problem, it's what you serve.
          If, instead of disgusting cod liver oil, you served fresh poached cod liver, it would be a delicacy. Sure, some would malign it without even having tasted it, but it would be more palatable to most, and very palatable to those with a developed palate.
          In the economic sense, the austerity measures themselves are not palatable at all. So drop them, and dig up the ones that are, even if less conventional.

  • by KermodeBear (738243) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:04PM (#40278833) Homepage

    To me, there's incentive enough to return to the moon simply because of the research and development that would occur. The space program that sent us to the moon the first time brought forth incredible advances in all kinds of areas. We should keep pushing our own boundaries and explore the unknown not simply because it's there, but because we have the opportunity to develop stronger / more efficient / less expensive / generally better tools at the same time. Make the results of the new research available to the public at large and everyone benefits.

    It's a use of my tax dollars that I can support without reservation.

    • by rgbrenner (317308) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:29PM (#40278939)

      And that trip to the moon cost $150 billion (in 2010 dollars). OF COURSE it brought about new discoveries, inventions, tools, etc-- IT WAS $150 BILLION! Saying that we discovered new things in the process of spending that much money does not mean we should automatically do it again.

      If our true motivation for a trip to the moon is to develop new things, then we have to ask: does spending that money on a trip to the moon result in more inventions than spending it on the National Institutes of Health? or the National Science Foundation? or the Department of Energy?

      The NSF got $7 billion last year... the Dept of Energy got 24 billion.. and NASA got 18 billion (+ we spent another 8 billion on military space funding (GPS, etc)).

      Have you seen the list of discoveries just by the NSF? Here's a short list of 587 recent discoveries [nsf.gov]. There's more for computing, engineering, math, nanoscience, physics:
      http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/index.jsp?prio_area=5 [nsf.gov]
      http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/index.jsp?prio_area=8 [nsf.gov]
      http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/index.jsp?prio_area=9 [nsf.gov]
      http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/index.jsp?prio_area=10 [nsf.gov]
      http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/index.jsp?prio_area=11 [nsf.gov]

      and that's what they did with $7 BILLION!

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        The return on that $150B investment has been many, many times that amount. How much return on the NSF investment is there in an equivalent 10 years since the money was spent?

        Maybe the NSF has an even better rate of return. Even if you exclude the incomparable inspiration of the Apollo programme. All that means is that we should spend $150B again on space R&D, and on NSF R&D. Instead of on war and the banks.

        • by rgbrenner (317308)

          All that means is that we should spend $150B again on space R&D, and on NSF R&D

          If we have $300 billion, why should we spend half of it on a LESS productive program?

          • by arth1 (260657) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @11:18PM (#40279415) Homepage Journal

            If we have $300 billion, why should we spend half of it on a LESS productive program?

            Because the sum of returns is bigger.
            If a > 0 and b > 0, then a + b > a.

            Also, if you believe that doubling the funding for the currently most effective research will lead to twice the research or more, you are wrong. There is no synergy effect in research, rather the opposite - a law of diminishing returns. You want to financially back single projects instead of heap funding, because the latter gets eaten by bureaucracy - especially the kind of bureaucracy put in place by conservatives to make sure everything is done as cheaply as possible costs an awful lot of money. NASA could become more effective again if the cuts were done among the paper pushers and bean counters, and not the engineering side.

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)

            Because there's only so much return NSF is giving. I'm waiting for you to document the return on $150B spent on NSF in a comparable period, say 1993-2002 with 10 years to show for it, compared to NASA's 1961-1970 ROI by 1980.

            • by rgbrenner (317308)

              I'm waiting for you to document the return on $150B spent on NSF in a comparable period, say 1993-2002 with 10 years to show for it, compared to NASA's 1961-1970 ROI by 1980.

              That's an interesting test. So you want to cherry pick NASA's time period? Why not compare it for the same period as the NSF. NASA's funding for 1993-2202 was more than enough for them to show incredible advances in a wide range of areas. So where are those advancements?

              Also, $150 billion is a lot of money. NASA has received many times that amount. I do not think the NSF has received that amount in its ENTIRE HISTORY.

            • by rgbrenner (317308)

              By the standard we use to calculate NASA's return on investment, the NSF has given us many projects, including:

              THE INTERNET
              While it was originally run by DARPA, NSF became involved by the late 70s, and by the mid-80s was the primary financial support for the system. Without the NSF, the internet may have died before it got anywhere.

              This is more involvement than NASA has with many of the technologies proponents claim credit for.

              So following the same logic, the NSF has repaid itself many many many times over,

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          The return on that $150B investment has been many, many times that amount. How much return on the NSF investment is there in an equivalent 10 years since the money was spent?

          Maybe the NSF has an even better rate of return. Even if you exclude the incomparable inspiration of the Apollo programme. All that means is that we should spend $150B again on space R&D, and on NSF R&D. Instead of on war and the banks.

          No it has not. The return on the $150B investment has been virtually non-existant. Why? Because the government, who invested the $150B didn't get to profit from the returns on that investment. Private businesses did. These same businesses were also paid for their services and products, so they made a profit from the actual work performed and a windfall from all of the discoveries that the government or should I say the people paid for.

          If NASA had been allowed to patent the inventions created for the sp

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)

            The government gets taxes from the increased revenue of the businesses you're talking about.

            But that's besides the point. Public investments pay off in private income in America. And in improved living conditions. The government payoff is leadership, and in teaching the Russians that we could do in space during the Cold War what we did in the Pacific during WWII: ramp up tech and production to bring it right in their face and beyond.

            Of course NASA shouldn't keep a monopoly on the tech it develops. It should

      • by rgbrenner (317308)

        the Dept of Energy got 24 billion

        That's for the entire DoE.. DARPA received $3 billion [army-technology.com]

      • by bertok (226922)

        Can you imagine a Manhattan project style funding of new science?

        Imagine throwing $150B at, say, fusion power research.

        Instead of a one-off trip to some rock, we'd be well on the way to eliminating global warming and boosting industry through lowered energy costs.

        Once developed, the work required to construct thousands of fusion plants would keep far more people employed than the space program ever did.

        • by rgbrenner (317308)

          No kidding. Remember the /. interview with MIT fusion researchers? They said we are about $80 billion [slashdot.org] away. So that's quite a margin of error if you budget 150b.

          ITER cost 17 billion. We're going to wait a decade for work to complete on it.

          It's less than 1 year of NASA's budget.

        • What makes you think Fusion research is not being funded or actively being researched around the world? Until the science (ie. math) is deemed feasible off the blackboard why should the government throw 150B at them? And as far the space program goes why does nobody ever mention the US X3-B vehicles and derivative projects built using information collected from the old space shuttle program. There has has been a stealth capable unmanned reusable space shuttle in use for 2+ years with a manned version alrea

  • by rgbrenner (317308) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:08PM (#40278845)

    The US is spending 25.7 billion (17.7 billion NASA [whitehouse.gov], 8 billion for the military [space.com] (GPS, etc)) on space in 2012

    ESA spent 4 billion Euros (about $5 billion) [esa.int]... a total of 413 million EU on human space flight.

    There's a lot of talk in the paper about "global" exploration of the moon. I can only assume that means they don't plan on increasing that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      The US is spending 25.7 billion (17.7 billion NASA [whitehouse.gov], 8 billion for the military [space.com] (GPS, etc)) on space in 2012

      ESA spent 4 billion Euros (about $5 billion) [esa.int]... a total of 413 million EU on human space flight.

      There's a lot of talk in the paper about "global" exploration of the moon. I can only assume that means they don't plan on increasing that.

      That's why the EU is making a case to return to the moon -- so somebody else will foot the bill for them.

    • ESA != EU (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ESA is not the EU's space program, it's the all-European space program.

  • Anything Please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GeneralTurgidson (2464452) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:24PM (#40278899)
    We need kids engaged in science and exploration, not killing terrorists or idolizing warfare. Bring back the coolness of space exploration and the meaning of the word "hero"
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      Until the individual scientist is viewed (and paid) like the athlete, investment banker, doctor, lawyer, etc. you aren't going to get kids engaged in it. Why go to college for 8 years and run up so much debt that you will never be able to buy a house when for a lot less work and money, you can have a career that pays a lot more to boot?

    • Bring back the coolness of space exploration and the meaning of the word "hero"

      We tried that. And the results to date has been four long decades of bitching and whining about the workaday non heroic stuff that has to be done too.

  • One way or another humans will render the Earth uninhabitable by humans. Sooner or later.

    The only way to give humans a chance to survive our own suicidal idiocy is to colonize other places. The Moon is the obvious necessary step towards that.

    There's plenty of other reasons to make it worthwhile until the Earth is done. But let's get started already. There's a chance that spreading somewhere else might take the pressure off and postpone the inevitable down here.

    • by rrohbeck (944847) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:53PM (#40279027)

      I have a feeling that even a ruined Earth is still way more hospitable than Mars, let alone other places.

      • by khallow (566160)

        I have a feeling that even a ruined Earth is still way more hospitable than Mars, let alone other places.

        But not more hospitable than a developed city on Mars or elsewhere. Your same argument applies to places on Earth such as the verdant wilds of Africa and the harsh desert of the US southwest. But people would rather live where the economic opportunities are rather than the plentiful hunting grounds of Africa.

        The thing is, we can turn a lot of the harsh parts of space into comfortable space for us. And if in the process, we make a place that has more economic opportunities than Earth, then we'll also see

        • by Doc Ruby (173196)

          The main point is just not to be on this planet when we bathe it in exterminating radiation, or whatever hideous and total fate we have in store for it. Even if Earth is easier to make reinhabitable than someplace new offplanet, if we're not offplanet when we take it down, we're not going to get a chance to make it anywhere again.

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        One scenario is the Earth overrun by killer robots bent on revenge for the time after we created them as our slaves. Especially if the robots are nanotech diseases we use against each other in an armageddon. Places in space without killer robots would be better.

        And that's just off the top of my head. Fact is homo sapiens has to diversify from this single failurepoint planet. Or go down with it.

        • by Sperbels (1008585)

          One scenario is the Earth overrun by killer robots bent on revenge for the time after we created them as our slaves

          I'm on board, but I think we would actually have more luck achieving our goal if you kept this to yourself and let others make the persuasive arguments instead.

    • by rossdee (243626)

      "One way or another humans will render the Earth uninhabitable by humans. Sooner or later."

      Whereas the Moon is already uninhabitable by humans.
        It would be easier to re-terraform a polluted, climate-changed earth than to terraform the moon.

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      One way or another humans will render the Earth uninhabitable by humans. Sooner or later.

      The only way to give humans a chance to survive our own suicidal idiocy is to colonize other places. The Moon is the obvious necessary step towards that.

      There's plenty of other reasons to make it worthwhile until the Earth is done. But let's get started already. There's a chance that spreading somewhere else might take the pressure off and postpone the inevitable down here.

      The moon and mars, etc. are already uninhabitable by humans. If humans do make the earth uninhabitable, which is questionable, then why not just build the habitats here?

  • Canned Ape (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KeensMustard (655606) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:30PM (#40279195)
    Unfortunately, although a good summary of possible research that could be conducted on the moon, this paper seems primarily to be a vehicle for advocating for humans to be sent back to the moon. To do this, it makes constant reference a to single paper (Crawford, 2004) which purports that human missions are superior because:

    1. Mobility: humans are more mobile than probes. This ignores the fact that, for a fraction of the cost of sending a human (say 50%) a robot could be developed and sent which was far more mobile than a human. Robots also don't need to be trained or selected - astronauts have a fixed cost per unit that doesn't reduce significantly by volume - 10 astronauts cost approximately 10x as much as one astronaut. Whereas the per unit cost of a robotic probe reduces per unit at volume - building 10 probes doesn't cost 10 times as much as building a single one.

    2. Presupposing that humans are better at drilling than robots. However, this fails once again to take into account that the constraint is the size of the drill - human missions require larger rockets, which coincidentally allows for a larger drill to be carried. Robotic missions launch with smaller rockets. Solution: use the big rocket. Launch a couple of probes at once, with big, capable drills. No need for the spurious meat bag attachment.

    • Re:Canned Ape (Score:4, Informative)

      by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Monday June 11, 2012 @01:09AM (#40279963) Homepage Journal

      The science director for the Mars rovers estimated that a trained human could do what a rover does in a day in 45 seconds.

      That's three orders of magnitude improvement in productivity to set against the admittedly staggering costs of transporting and supporting humans.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        After analyzing 1000 rocks, the chance that the 1001th rock is going to provide some new information is getting small. The only difference is that the rover takes a few years to analyze those rocks, while a trained human could do it in a few days. After that, it's probably better to send some new instruments, and look in a different place. Now compare the time and effort it would take to send a trained human to Mars, and have him survive for a few days, compared to the effort to send a small rover and have
  • Platinum! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigpat (158134) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:34PM (#40279225)

    Forget the space race, let the space rush begin! Let's mine some asteroids!

    Seriously, once space exploration can be economically self sustaining, self perpetuating, then maybe we can get somewhere.

  • Long ago, someone once said, "Man cannot fly." And in the sense he meant it, it is still true today.. You can't flap your arms and propel yourself like a bird. However, mankind has learned to fly to the moon, something no bird could every do. In the same sense, man will not live on the moon or any other planet. Our physiology is too delicate for alien environments, even if we find one with nearly identical atmosphere and climate. We would be as welcomed as any foreign body (think 'War of the Worlds').
  • by gmuslera (3436) on Monday June 11, 2012 @12:40AM (#40279835) Homepage Journal
    Energy gathering, asteroid mining, making materials maybe too complicated to do in a planet, or just manufacturing with the resources gathered up there, thats a more direct and shorter term return of investment, if you could do things that would please both people that care about knowledge and people that care about money, then better. And could ease things for future moon missions.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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