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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @08:32PM (#40278691)

    Write this down. M.A.R.S. That's right! Mars, bitches!

  • 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 NalosLayor ( 958307 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @09:18PM (#40278877)
    We haven't "Lost the ability" -- we simply don't have factories set up to manufacture that particular rocket. The "orbital propellant depot" concept -- made viable by the "new space" companies and their radically cheaper rockets has been much denigrated by the entrenched space lobby in congress, but the simple fact is, we now have experience in assembling modular craft in orbit (ISS), and thanks to modern computers and materials, spacecraft can be appreciable lighter. Plus, thanks to those same technologies (and better lunar surveying done in the last few years), we can robotically pre-land much of the equipment needed to mount a lunar expedition. Sure, the mission profile would look different, and building the hardware to land on and return from the moon would still cost billions, but the Falcon Heavy, which is really just a falcon 9 modified, will be ready within the next few years. With a green light today and consistent funding, we could easily have a permanent lunar presence by the end of the decade. I would guess the total cost would be less than ten billion dollars, if we were able to keep the government pork under control.
  • 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"
  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:23PM (#40279153)

    Borrowing money isn't fraud, and raising taxes isn't fraud. Nor is taxation theft. Taxation is agreeing that some things are best for the state to manage and paying for those from everyone.

    You need to focus more on jobs, which will create wealth. Cutting spending is creating a spiral of destruction in its wake that is destroying wealth left right and centre. Without jobs there's no demand, without demand there's no production and no innovation, without which there's less demand, and less wealth.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 10, 2012 @10:41PM (#40279255)

    - espionage, industrial accidents
    - government welfare propping up industries no one wants
    - assembled in USA, made in China does not help
    - avoiding giveaways by giving contracts away
    - creates another welfare class of engineers and scientist, which is why we cant get a fucking thing done as it is, the current ones just work from grant to grant
    - artifical growth sustained by welfare

    And its something no one will give a fuck about in 500 years as they wonder why we squandered all this time and money doing something pointless when we could have been working on more sustainable energy, food, and water ... ya know the things that really matter, unlike a nerds star trek wet dreams

  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Monday June 11, 2012 @12:53AM (#40279893)

    Taxation is not theft. At least not when democratic governments do it. Taxation is the people voting to use their collective bargaining power to buy services.

    So it's alright when enough people say its ok? So if a gang of X (X being the number of people when it is ok for the theft to be morally justified) corner you at gunpoint and let you vote with them if they should rob them. Democracy is 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what they want for dinner.

    yep. And if you don't like it, go somewhere that lets you choose whether or not you're going to pay taxes at all. Like greece. Or pakistan. Seriously. Pay off the right people and your tax bill will magically disappear.

    What sky high tax rates are you talking about? You can't on one hand claim sky high tax rates are murderous and then claim france and germany are strong economies (who are not as highly taxed as the nordic countries, most of whom are doing even better) and then say spain italy (and presumably) greece aren't. there's no strong correlation there. France and germany are both taxed, and spend, more than spain, with italy less than france but more than germany, and greece is way down the list.

    I don't mean to correlate the tax rates between the various European countries and their relative prosperity, merely that Europe has higher tax rates than, say, most of Asia, the Caribbean, most of the Americas, etc. Germany and France have thrived mostly because of their previously solid foundation before the adoption of the Euro.

    yes actually, you did. France and Germany had solid foundations before the euro in part because they had large tax bases.

    The US spends significantly less as a percentage of GDP on total government spending (and taxation) than anyone else and has a massive deficit which it's paying next to nothing in interest on. It also has higher unemployment than Canada or Germany (by quite a lot) despite a significantly lower tax burden, but lower unemployment than france.

    Really? Because when you look at it, the US is quite high. Not as high as Europe of course but a lot higher than the places where people are looking to invest their money in such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Chile, etc. When you look at the US tax burden you also have to look at the fact that the US taxes worldwide income if you are a US citizen which most other countries do not.

    Yes, really, it's not high at all. France is at 44%, germany at 40, canada at 32, the US at 27. That's total government (so the sub national states/provinces/local governments). The US taxation on all overseas persons is inconsequentially small, as it taxes income only over 90.

    Chile, Singapore and Hong Kong have much lower costs than the US, or are much closer to useful markets. The vast majority of countries with any money are higher than the US. The only notable exception is Taiwan, which collects US handouts. Chile I will point out has about 1/4 the per capita income that the US does (1/4 the per capita costs). And HK and Singapore are both cities, so don't really hold up under comparison to a full country. If you count HK as part of China (which it is) china is at 17%, and you know why everyone is moving there, and Singapore would I guess count as part of malaysia but doesn't really.

    A situation where the government borrows a crap-ton of money on useless stuff? A situation where the voters expect the nanny-welfare state to take care of them all their life? Etc. The things that led Greece to this crisis isn't because they have a currency they can't control, instead they can't get out of the crisis the easy way by hyperinflating their currency (something Greece has enjoyed doing since ancient times!) and instead actually have to cut spending and get their affairs in ord

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Monday June 11, 2012 @12:59AM (#40279917) Journal
    The moon would make a lousy staging point. Why loft things out of a gravity well, then drop them back in, only to loft them out again. It is an utter waste of time and propellant. Assemble stuff in Earth orbit, then go directly (or as directly as orbital mechanics lets you go).
  • by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Monday June 11, 2012 @03:36AM (#40280567)

    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.
    It would also be much more durable than an orbital station, especially if it's partially subterr.. uh, sublunar.

    Basically, the argument is that it would be the better long (long) term investment that would eventually pay itself off. And heck, maybe there's an argument for doing both and baby-stepping our way into space (earth->orbit->moon->phobos->titan->???->orion slave girls!!)

  • by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Monday June 11, 2012 @06:52AM (#40281437)

    Moons, asteroid belt, orbital stations. No other place to go at all. And if we get good at making those, there is no reason not to build a generation ship and start exploring the galaxy. Yes, humanity is going to end, but there is no reason not to try and make that end distant as possible.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama