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Moon Space Science

European Scientists Make a Case For a Return To the Moon 285

MarkWhittington writes "While the official target of NASA's space exploration program remains exploring Earth approaching asteroids, the case for a return to the moon has been made from a variety of quarters. The most recent attempt to make a case for the moon is in a paper, titled Back to the Moon: The Scientific Rationale for Resuming Lunar Surface Exploration, soon to be published in the journal Planetary and Space Science."
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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 [], not some article from the Yahoo! Contributor Network...
  • Re:We're still /. (Score:3, Informative)

    by timothy ( 36799 ) Works for Slashdot on Sunday June 10, 2012 @08:43PM (#40278757) Journal

    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.


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

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

    ESA spent 4 billion Euros (about $5 billion) []... 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.

  • 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 []. There's more for computing, engineering, math, nanoscience, physics: [] [] [] [] []

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

  • 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.

  • ESA != EU (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @02:31AM (#40280285)

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

  • by ongelovigehond ( 2522526 ) on Monday June 11, 2012 @02:59AM (#40280417)

    We NEED to spread out, so that a single epidemic, or a catastrophic event doesn't wipe us out!

    There's no realistic way of spreading beyond Mars. And Mars itself isn't really a better place to survive a catastrophic event. It would make more sense to build a couple of deep underground (or underwater) bunkers on earth, where a few people can take shelter from this catastrophic event. It would be several orders of magnitude cheaper, and more effective. At least, when the event has passed, you can climb out, and breathe the air, drink the water, and grow food.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @03:29AM (#40280539)

    But it has gravity which makes it easier for humans (less bone loss).

    Underground lunar facilities would provide shielding against cosmic rays (also better for humans).

    There's *stuff* on the moon we can mine & use on site (as opposed to launching it from earth).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2012 @05:07AM (#40280921)

    He's right in that jobs don't create wealth. Work creates wealth. For the generated wealth it doesn't matter if that work is done by a self-employed worker, by an employee, by a slave or by a robot. What differs is how the resulting wealth is distributed.

    If jobs created wealth, the east block states would have been incredibly wealthy because there everyone had a job.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Monday June 11, 2012 @06:15AM (#40281287) Homepage

    If we can refine fuel and materials from lunar ores (possible, in theory) then the moon would make a great staging point to fuel up or perform final assembly for long missions. Instead of trying to lift obscene quantities of fuel and finished materials out of a much bigger gravity well, you just boost up the hard to build stuff with as little fuel as possible, and then slap it all together with moon-tape and ExxonMoonble.

    All other things equal, yes. Unfortunately heavy mining equipment usually depends on big diesel engines that need diesel and water as coolant, neither of which are easily available on the moon. So for power we'd need great fields of solar panels or something similar and without coolant dry mining would require far more frequent changes of drill heads. Then you have the same issue with smelters, they require huge amounts of energy so add more solar arrays. Then you need huge hydraulic presses to make it into sheet metal, again another power hog so add even more solar arrays. And we still only have sheet metal.

    Ore mining is heavy industry, like really heavy industry. Here on earth it seems so basic, only costing a few dollars but on the moon it would actually be a very, very complicated and expensive project. It would be a great achievement if we even manged to create fuel for an empty return rocket, mining ore is extremely much harder. And even if we could do that, it wouldn't make sense to send a rocket down to the moon to bring fuel back up, only make it a bit cheaper to do a moon mission. Going directly to Mars really has few disadvantages that I can see.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers