Friday, October 9, 2009

Fantastic Future Friday: The Lovely Lunar Landscape

I was hoping to write a few words on the LCROSS impact on the lunar surface this morning. Unfortunately, this morning I had trouble accessing GOOGLE, which is a problem as Google Adsense is on nearly every page that I normally look at so every page I went to I had to wait for my computer not to make a connection with Google before it continued.

I could be old fashioned and watch it on TV, except I don’t have one.

Now that I’m back up and running, it turns out the visual of the impact was disappointing to say the least and the analysis of the smaller than expected plume will take weeks, not days.

So I will have to write a philosophical piece than I had intended.

In space exploration the greatest missions have been the ones we sent to boring places.

The Voyager missions looked at Jupiter and almost in hindsight snapped a few pictures of the Jovian moons. Everyone (at the time) knew that Jovian Moons were dirty ice balls of no real scientific interest. When they were photographed we learned that those dirty ice balls were worlds.

Io is the most volcanically active world in the solar system, Europa almost definitely has an ocean under that ice and Ganymede probably does as well. We found out that this place of little scientific interest was one of the best places to search for extra terrestrial life.

After Apollo we ignored our own Moon as we figured the few pounds of rocks we brought back could tell us all we need to know. Until Bush pronounced we were going back to the Moon in 2020 it was totally ignored. Now we are looking at it again, and every time we look at it we find totally new things.

Just in the past year we’ve found heavy elements on the surface and water in the surface soils. Both of those things were believed not to exist.

In a few weeks we will have analysis of soil that has rested at a depth of 13 feet under the surface, more than twice as deep the Apollo missions were able to dig.

There have been a lot of predictions as to what the analysis will show but I will give my own prediction. All the predictions will be wrong, what we will find will completely shatter our current thinking about the Moon.

I’m willing to bet that we find something that no one expected, and with that discovery we will have completely change our preconceived notions as to what we can do with a base on the Moon.
This new knowledge will lead to a fantastic future.

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