Friday marks the 49th anniversary of the first time any human set foot on solid, extraterrestrial ground. The details are probably familiar: on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the Moon. It’s a rare privilege, even now: only ten other people have landed on the Moon and gone out for a stroll.
Just over three years later, humans walked on the Moon for the last time. Changing political and economic priorities meant NASA would no longer focus on sending people to the Moon. After all, we had already planted a flag, confirmed that the Moon wasn’t made of cheese, and played some golf. What else is left?
Well, it just so turns out that we might be heading back out there — and soon. President Trump has insisted on resuming manned Moon missions, despite the fact that it doesn’t match the public or scientific community’s desires for a space program (no one is quite sure where his determination stems from, but it doesn’t seem to have much more substance than a whim).
But there are some other, real reasons that we might want to send someone to the Moon. There’s science to be done, and money to be made. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what might be bringing us back to our lunar neighbor.
1) Trump really wants it to happen.
Last December, President Trump signed a directive indicating that NASA would prioritize human exploration to the Moon and beyond. Just imagine: a human setting foot on the Moon! Accomplishing such an impossible feat would show the rest of the world that America is capable of great things, which would really assert our dominance on the international stage!
So, assuming that President Trump knows we won the space race 43 years ago (he knows, right? right?) there might be other reasons why Trump wants more people to go visit. Maybe it’s a display of national achievement, maybe it’s to develop economic or military advantages. Either way, the White House is pushing hard for that giant leap.
2) Cash money.
A rare isotope called helium-3 could help us produce clean and safe nuclear energy without giving off any hazardous or radioactive waste. And it just so happens that the Moon has loads of the stuff (so does Jupiter, but that’s a bit harder to reach).
While a helium nuclear fusion reactor does not yet exist, many expect that helium-3 could be the missing piece — and whoever secures the supply would unlock riches to rival Scrooge McDuck.
Two years ago, the federal government gave a private company its blessing to land on the Moon for the first time. Moon Express, which also plans to dump human ashes on the Moon (read: litter) for customers who want an unconventional cremation, has the ultimate goal of establishing a lunar mining colony. According to the company’s website, Expedition “Harvest Moon” plans to have a permanent research station up and running by 2021. At that point, it will begin extracting samples and raw materials to send back to Earth.
This could lead to more and (maybe) better research into the moon’s history and makeup, especially since our supply of samples from the Apollo missions is so limited. But helium-3 is what Moon Express is really after. And they’re not the only ones — the Chinese government also has its eyes set on the Moon’s helium-3 supply.
In addition to opening space up to private mining operations, Trump has reached out to NASA in hopes that the agency’s technology could be used to launch mining rigs to the Moon and to asteroids.
But there’s a lot that needs to happen before the spacefaring equivalents of coal barons start selling space rocks. For instance, we need to figure out how to approach and land on an asteroid, and to set up at least semi-permanent bases and mining operations. But still, some companies some companies are forging ahead.
3) Science! slash, practice for Mars.
The government, along with multiple space-interested billionaires, have some well-publicized plans to colonize Mars. Their reasons range from: furthering scientific research, to exploring the cosmos for funsies, to saving humanity from, uh, something.
The Moon could play a vital role in those plans — as practice off-world destination, and as a celestial truck stop along the way.
In February, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that setting up a colony on the Moon will be essential for future space exploration. Especially, he mentioned, so that it can serve as a refueling station. His logic seems to be based on the fact that the Moon exerts less gravitational force than the Earth, so landing and relaunching a refueled rocket would let that rocket explore farther into space.
Some have also proposed using a Moon base as practice for a Martian settlement, since they would be much closer to Earth — Moon-dwellers would only be three days from Earth, while human Martians would be eight months from home.
NASA’s Gateway mission, as Time reported, could give rise to lunar settlements within the next ten years. Gateway would function as a space station in orbit around the Moon, but would be capable of traveling to and from the surface. The expected Gateway timeline is controversial even within NASA, however, as some feel that its far too optimistic about when we might actually see results.
There are still too many unknowns and hazards for people in space settlements for such a program to succeed today. Even trying to simulate a Mars colony on Earth led to several unforeseen mental strains and complications.
But either way, ongoing exploration and research missions continue to radically change our understanding of the Moon.
“Ten years ago we would have said that the Moon was complete dry,” Ryan Zeigler, NASA’s curator of lunar samples from the Apollo missions, told Futurism. “Over the past ten years, new instruments and new scientists have shown this to not be the case, and that has had profound effects on the models that predict how the Earth-Moon system has formed,” he added.
Of course, there are financial reasons at the forefront the recent push for lunar exploration. But even if its just a pleasant side effect, we may get valuable new science out of these missions, too.
Read more about complications with NASA’s lunar plans: NASA Just Canceled Its Only Moon Rover Project. That’s Bad News for Trump’s Lunar Plans.
Here is the original post:
- History of nanotechnology - Wikipedia - January 27th, 2019
- Nanotechnology - Wikipedia - January 12th, 2019
- Artificial intelligence - Wikipedia - January 3rd, 2019
- What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? - Definition from ... - January 3rd, 2019
- Artificial Intelligence: The Robots Are Now Hiring - WSJ - January 3rd, 2019
- What is AI (artificial intelligence)? - Definition from ... - January 3rd, 2019
- Artificial Intelligence - Journal - Elsevier - January 3rd, 2019
- Benefits & Risks of Artificial Intelligence - Future of Life ... - January 3rd, 2019
- A.I. Artificial Intelligence - Wikipedia - January 3rd, 2019
- Artificial Intelligence: The Pros, Cons, and What to Really Fear - January 3rd, 2019
- A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) - IMDb - January 3rd, 2019
- Online Artificial Intelligence Courses | Microsoft ... - January 3rd, 2019
- Nanotechnology - Wikipedia - January 2nd, 2019
- What is Nanotechnology? | Nano - January 2nd, 2019
- Gov Shutdown Means 95 Percent of NASA Employees Aren’t At Work - January 1st, 2019
- Scientists to Test New Cancer Treatment on Human Patients in 2019 - January 1st, 2019
- Holograms Are Resurrecting Dead Musicians, Raising Legal Questions - January 1st, 2019
- New Theory: The Universe is a Bubble, Inflated by Dark Energy - January 1st, 2019
- Poll: Two Thirds of Americans Support Human Gene Editing to Cure Disease - January 1st, 2019
- Washington May Become the First State to Legalize Human Composting - January 1st, 2019
- NASA Clears “Dream Chaser” Space Cargo Plane For Full-Scale Production - January 1st, 2019
- Rerouting Nerves During Amputation May Reduce Phantom Limb Pain - January 1st, 2019
- Experts: Stop Adding Cancer-Causing Chemicals to our Meats - January 1st, 2019
- Google Wins Lawsuit Over Facial Recognition Technology - January 1st, 2019
- Elon Musk Thinks the First Mars Settler Could Be an AI - January 1st, 2019
- Leaked Documents Show How Facebook Controls Speech Across the Globe - January 1st, 2019
- Edible Coating Can Keep Food Fresh Longer and Cut Down on Waste - January 1st, 2019
- Bill Gates: U.S. Leaders Must Embrace Nuclear Energy - January 1st, 2019
- The EU Is Banning Almost All Coal Mining on Jan 1 - January 1st, 2019
- Foreign Cyberattack Cripples Major U.S. Newspapers - January 1st, 2019
- Demand for Combustion Engine Cars May Have Peaked in 2018 - January 1st, 2019
- Scientist Who Gene Edited Babies Is Being Held By Mysterious Guards - January 1st, 2019
- Tiny Robots That Repair Pipes Could Eliminate Road Work - January 1st, 2019
- Space Travel Doesn’t Seem to Shorten Astronauts’ Lives, Says Study - December 29th, 2018
- Elon Musk Pledges Tesla Superchargers For All of Europe Next Year - December 29th, 2018
- China Is Building Its First Huge Battery Storage Facility - December 29th, 2018
- Startup Claims Its Underwear Stay Odor-Free Through Weeks of Wear - December 29th, 2018
- Microorganisms That Eat Seaweed Can Create Biodegradable Plastic - December 29th, 2018
- Apollo Astronaut: It Would Be “Stupid” to Send People to Mars - December 29th, 2018
- Elon Musk Tweets Image of SpaceX’s Stainless Steel Starship - December 29th, 2018
- Musk: Tesla’s Fully Autonomous Capabilities “About to Accelerate” - December 29th, 2018
- An App That Does Your Homework for You Is Now Worth $3 Billion - December 29th, 2018
- Virtual Reality Tumors Could Help Lead to New Cancer Treatments - December 29th, 2018
- New Multi-Sensory Mask Lets You Smell and Feel the Virtual World - December 29th, 2018
- New Fiber Could Be the Foundation for Futuristic Smart Garments - December 29th, 2018
- Cacti-Inspired Tech Could Keep You Hydrated After the Apocalypse - December 29th, 2018
- Your Christmas Tree Could Be Recycled Into Paint or Sweeteners - December 29th, 2018
- Australian Autonomous Train Is The “World’s Largest Robot” - December 29th, 2018
- Chinese Scientists Reportedly Lost Track of Gene-Edited Patients - December 29th, 2018
- Netflix’s Bandersnatch Teases the Future of Entertainment - December 29th, 2018
- What is Nanotechnology? | Nano - December 27th, 2018
- Nanotechnology - Wikipedia - December 27th, 2018
- Nanotechnology | Britannica.com - December 27th, 2018
- Nanotechnology Conferences 2018-2019 | Nanobiotechnology ... - December 27th, 2018
- What It Is and How It Works | Nano - December 27th, 2018
- Eugenics - Wikipedia - December 23rd, 2018
- Maafa 21 - December 23rd, 2018
- eugenics | Description, History, & Modern Eugenics ... - December 23rd, 2018
- Eugenics in the United States Today: Are We on the Same ... - December 23rd, 2018
- Pope Francis Likens Abortion to Nazi Eugenics - WSJ - December 23rd, 2018
- Nanotechnology - Wikipedia - December 16th, 2018
- Ripple Price Forecast: XRP vs SWIFT, SEC Updates, and More - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency Price Forecast: Trust Is Growing, But Prices Are Falling - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News: What You Need to Know This Week - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News: XRP Validators, Malta, and Practical Tokens - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETFs, Andreessen Horowitz, and Contradictions in Crypto - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News: Looking Past the Bithumb Crypto Hack - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News: This Week on Bitfinex, Tether, Coinbase, & More - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News: Vitalik Buterin Doesn’t Care About Bitcoin ETFs - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News: New Exchanges Could Boost Crypto Liquidity - December 1st, 2018
- Cryptocurrency News: Bitcoin ETF Rejection, AMD Microchip Sales, and Hedge Funds - December 1st, 2018
- See How AI Can Turn Almost Any Surface Into a User Interface - November 27th, 2018
- Scientists Are 3D Printing Fake Moon Dust Into Useful Objects - November 27th, 2018
- A Wearable Robot Arm Makes You Work for Thanksgiving Leftovers - November 27th, 2018
- See the 3D Images Produced by the First Full-Body Medical Scanner - November 27th, 2018
- It’s No Ancient Secret, a High-Tech Headband Can Help Train Your Brain to Meditate - November 27th, 2018
- NASA Announces Date for First SpaceX Crew Dragon Test Flight - November 27th, 2018
- This Is the Biggest Thanksgiving Ever for Fake Meat - November 27th, 2018
- NASA Isn’t Happy About SpaceX’s “Frat House” Culture - November 27th, 2018
- The World Reacts to the Success of NASA’s InSight Mars Lander - November 27th, 2018