February 14, 2007

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Why Not?

image from NASA, Washington, DC

In January 2003, President Bush announced a new space vision for long term human and robotic exploration of the solar system. The first stop for America’s new space venture is the Moon, with the establishment of a base by 2020. After soliciting reasons to go to the Moon from the public and other space agencies, in December 2006 NASA released a Global Exploration Strategy (why “Global” rather than “Space”??) that identified six broad reasons for humans to return to the Moon. This recently released poster summarizes the agreed upon rationale. On the Why the Moon? website six short videos give peppy answers: to prepare for human settlement, for science, to prepare to go to Mars, for international cooperation, for economic expansion and to inspire. The next decades will bring ever more knowledge and familiarity of the Moon to our living rooms, iPods and whatever comes next (mind-pods?). Today’s observers of the Moon should download the full size poster and look at it carefully. The image shows the Moon at full phase, but there is topographic shadowing nearly everywhere. How did they do that? I worry about the man at bottom left - his telescope isn’t aimed at the Moon and what is he doing with the telescope? Fortunately, the boy’s finger points toward the lunar south pole, so the generation who will go there knows where the proposed base will be!

Chuck Wood

Technical Details:
Notice the less common variant of the Tsiolkovsky quote - more commonly it is Earth is the cradle of mankind,… I wonder what he actually wrote?

Yesterday's LPOD: New Observations in a Well-Known Area

Tomorrow's LPOD: Iranian Moons


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