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The Moon

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45 and Counting.

“When I look back over the time that’s elapsed since 1969, I wonder what we’re doing. I remember the dreams of NASA, and they were too the dreams of a nation: Huge space stations, mighty rockets plying the solar system, bases and colonies on the Moon, Mars, and asteroids…Instead, we let those small-minded human traits flourish. We’ve let politics, greed, bureaucracy, and short-sightedness rule our actions, and we’ve let them trap us here on the surface of our planet.”

On the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, Phil Plait wonders what the hell happened to the Dream of Space in America. “Venturing into space is not just something we can do. It’s something we must do.”

Explorers on the Moon.

“The next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.” A belated happy 44th anniversary to the Apollo 11 crew, the first without Neil Armstrong. Speaking of which, it’s now been over 40 years since man walked on the moon — ’bout time to go back, dontchathink? (Spiffy Tintin image via LinkMachineGo.)

The Future is Off-World.

“In the next generation or two—say the next 30 to 60 years—there will be an irreversible human migration to a permanent space colony. Some people will tell you that this new colony will be on the moon, or an asteroid—in my opinion asteroids are a great place to go, but mostly for mining. I think the location is likely to be Mars.”

James Fallows speaks with Space Adventures co-founder Eric Anderson on the coming age of space colonization. “One key to making all this happen is that we need to use the resources of space to help us colonize space…The near-Earth asteroids, which are very, very close to the Earth, are filled with resources that would be useful for people wanting to go to Mars, or anywhere else in the solar system. They contain precious resources like water, rocket fuel, strategic metals.”

Along the same lines, and from last June, a Dutch company called Mars One has a very specific timetable in place for Mars colonization. “Lansdorp plans to send another couple of adventurous astronauts to join the colony every two years, but the idea is that no one gets a return journey. This is a permanent base, a Plymouth Rock in an entirely new world that will begin the long, slow and painstaking process of terraforming it.” The first four colonists, set to leave Earth in 2023, will be chosen this year.

Update: So far, it seems, the Mars One project has received 40,000 applications.

The Eagle has Landed.

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.

Commander Neil Armstrong, the pioneer who took the first step on extra-terrestrial soil and towards our ultimate destiny, 1930-2012. “The important achievement of Apollo was demonstrating that humanity is not forever chained to this planet…our opportunities are unlimited.

Not Just Water. Waterlogged.

“‘These things are not consistent with the amount of water that we find,’ he said. ‘I think in its very basic form, the [impact theory] idea is probably still correct, but there’s something fundamental about the physics of the process that we don’t understand.’

A new study of lunar magma returned from Apollo 17 finds even more evidence of water on the moon, calling into question our understanding of how the moon was even formed. “The analysis, reported in Science, has looked at pockets of volcanic material locked within tiny glass beads. It found 100 times more water in the beads than has been measured before, and suggests that the Moon once held a Caribbean Sea-sized volume of water.

The Challenge Remains.

We’ve grown used to wonders in this century. It’s hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We’ve grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.

25 years after a dark day in January, the Challenger is remembered. [Pictures.]

Update: As Dangerous Meta reminds me, yesterday was the 44th Anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy, and Tuesday will be the 8th anniversary of Columbia’s fall. This is just a terrible week for slipping the surly bonds and getting off-world.

Dark Side of the Moon.


Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice. These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.

In a fascinating remnant of alternate history, Letters of Note unearths Nixon’s Safire-penned speech on the (possible) failure of Apollo 11. “Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

Marshes of the Moon.

‘It’s really wet,’ said Anthony Colaprete, co-author of one of the Science papers and a space scientist at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. He and his colleagues estimate that 5.6% of the total mass of the targeted lunar crater’s soil consists of water ice. In other words, 2,200 pounds of moon dirt would yield a dozen gallons of water.

In keeping with recent studies, NASA is set to announce that there appears to be quite a lot of water on the moon, which would greatly facilitate setting up shop there. Alas, “the U.S. likely won’t be involved in manned voyages to the moon anytime soon…But other countries are gearing up. China has pledged to land astronauts on the moon by 2025, and India has plans to do the same by 2020. Japan wants to establish an unmanned moon base in a decade.” And, hey, why go to the moon when you can spend a decade in Afghanistan?

The Moon Awash.

Within 40 small craters, one to nine miles wide, they estimated 600 million metric tons of water. Perhaps most notably, ‘It has to be relatively pure,’ said Paul Spudis, the principal investigator for the instrument that made the discovery.

By way of a friend, scientists find more evidence of lots of water on the moon. “That is significant, because the ice in these craters could be easily tapped by future lunar explorers — not just for drinking water, but also broken apart into oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for fuel.” Hmm. Maybe it’s time to start thinking of ways to get up there

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