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Should We Land on the Moon's Poles or Equator?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the either-way-cheese-for-everyone dept.

Space 408

Cujo writes "There is at present a lively controversy about sites for a crewed lunar landing. Advocates for landing near the poles, possibly on a mountain, point out the advantages of much higher sunlight availability and possible water resources in nearby cold traps. However, there may be more interesting geology and better mineral resources near the better-explored equator. NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture report lays out some of the tradeoffs."

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408 comments

promise me the moon (-1, Flamebait)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664294)

Yes, yes -- this is truly an important debate. However, what is also important is should we fund ESA/NASA/etc. or private enterprise? Shall we wait for Bush to reach a 3rd grade proficiency in science and finally allocate some $$ to NASA, or should we start promising Mars in a feeble attempt to mimic JFK? I'm sorry, but we haven't been back to the moon in a quite a while, and until we have rockets being built, tenders being floated, accountants furiously scribbling in their books and robots being trained, we can safely put off this debate. Also, it's nice to know that NASA is commissioning a report like this instead of trying to save their asses from going into bankruptcy, or actually inspiring the American public to get off the couch and give a damn.

Oh, and by the way, thanks for the "day pass" Verizon...

Re:promise me the moon (4, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664393)

I wonder (1)

Oldsmobile (930596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664518)

I wonder if the money will still be there, as the new budget proposal is NOT going to fix the federal deficit. At some point, NASA too will start hurting and when that happens, everything is going out the window. Right now, things are looking really bad. This years budget is set, but it is the long term financing that will lead to trips to the moon and further. That is in danger.

Right now the whole federal budget is running on money borrowed from China.

Another thing sucking the lifeblood out of NASA is the Space Shuttle that should have been retired ages ago and a replacement sought. Of course, now they can't do that if they want to keep the ISS. So by procrastinating they painted themselves into a forseeable corner -leading to them not having enough money to do anything of value.

Re:promise me the moon (2, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664416)

Swing and a miss... it was congress that was holding stuff up..Bush wasnt the issue. (but then again i bet you dont go a single day without griping about him (cause god knows he actually effects you in a meaningful daily basis)

Re:promise me the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664702)

Hey, at least you're right about something. He does not effect shit.

Re:promise me the moon (2, Funny)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664484)

ha, it would be more appropriate to hold this debate in chinese

Dark Side of The Moon (1, Interesting)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664299)

My bias would be to land on the dark side of the moon (cue music) in order to build an observatory that will be uninfluenced by the earths, radio/tv/light/RF pollution. It could be powered by a small nuclear reactor eliminating the need for solar panels and there may in fact be larger ice deposits on the far side of the moon anyway.

Also, what is this fascination with things on the moon that we can see? I would be much more interested in the things that we do not see as much of.

  But I am a neuroscientist and not a rocket scientist, so what do I know?

While we are talking about the moon, I can understand and see the scientific payoffs of sending people back to the moon, but I am much less clear on the whole Mars thing. What is the scientific end game of sending people to Mars?

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (4, Informative)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664345)

Please forgive if my sarcasm detector is on the fritz, but you do know that the moon's rotation coincides with its orbit around the Earth, not the Sun, right? There is no side of the moon [wikipedia.org] that's permanently dark...

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (1)

artakka (114455) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664376)

I think he means that there is a side of the moon that is always away form earth, and probably has less radio and light polution.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (1)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664379)

Doh! It's not my sarcasm detector, but the old reading-comprehension demodulator that's malfunctioning. My apologies...

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (3, Funny)

PayPaI (733999) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664398)

There is no side of the moon that's permanently dark...
As a matter of fact it's all dark.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664439)

Mod +1 Funny, +1 Insightful, +1 Interesting, +1 Awesome!

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (4, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664405)

Quite true. But at the poles, there are craters which are permanently dark.

Really, the poles seem an obvious choice to me - constant light, constant dark, potential ice, new ground to explore - why not? Besides, it would be neat to have a simple pole near your complex plane.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664622)

it would be neat to have a simple pole near your complex plane.

* groan *

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (1)

klipsch_gmx (737375) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664486)

There is no side of the moon that's permanently dark...

While that may be true, that does mean that the length of a day on the moon is ~14 days, with night being equally long.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (5, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664371)

What is the scientific end game of sending people to Mars?

It's the most earthlike planet in the solar system barring earth, and it appears to have formerly supported an atmosphere and liquid water, meaning it could possibly do so again. It's the only planet in the solar system that we could have a reasonable expectation of terraforming on a reasonable timescale. I'd say that's the long-long-long-term purpose.

On a shorter timescale, we'll certainly learn a lot, and a lot of it will be stuff we can't learn on the moon. However, we need to step up operations on both of them. What we learn from comparing similar surveys of three planets (or at least, two planets and a moon) will tell us a lot more than what we'll learn looking at two, and it won't be linear, because of the added basis for comparison.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664404)

Of course you realise that the 'dark' side of the moon is only dark when 'our' side is lit..?

Everywhere (2, Funny)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664409)

If we make a commitment to return to the moon we should be prepared to explore, armed with airplanes (both manned and UAV), MPS (GPS on the moon) constellation, multiple bases, regular supply drops and greenhouses. We made it to the moon in the 1960s with technology that is downright scary by todays standards, we should prepare to return to the moon with a vengence on July 20, 2019.

Re:Everywhere (4, Insightful)

oni (41625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664485)

armed with airplanes (both manned and UAV),

you do realize that airplanes don't work without air, right?

Re:Everywhere (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664492)

These airplanes you speak of - I wasn't quite clear on what you mean? The airplanes would be on earth somehow supporting the moon mission, or flying around on the moon? You do realize that without an atmosphere, it will be somewhat difficult to fly an airplane on the moon?

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664413)

The dark side of the moon isn't dark. It's just unseen.

You can have just as many solar panels. (Except for the reflected light..can you get solar energy from that?)

The best place for solar panels are... on the very tip-top poles..on a swivel.

Re: Mars (1)

chill (34294) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664544)

Mons Venus is so huge it reaches up out of the atmosphere. A great place for an asteroid (mineral) processing plant and launch facility. Mars is also close to the mineral-rich asteroid belt.

Self Defense (1, Funny)

Solo7473 (952491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664607)

While we are talking about the moon, I can understand and see the scientific payoffs of sending people back to the moon, but I am much less clear on the whole Mars thing. What is the scientific end game of sending people to Mars?

We need to take out those pesky martians before they invade us. Do you think those little green men want peace? No way! First Strike against the Martians, it is our only chance.

Jihad vs. the Martians!!!

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (1)

ricky-road-flats (770129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664627)

But I am a neuroscientist and not a rocket scientist, so what do I know?

Yeah, yeah - who do you think you are, some kind of frickin' brain surgeon?

oh. Erm, the dark side's not actually dark... except for the TV, radio, light and RF from Earth...

oh.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (2, Funny)

njchick (611256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664637)

The downside of being on the dark side is that you are likely to be eaten by a Grue.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664792)

And of course, living on the Dark Side, we wouldn't want to encourage anyone to turn to the Dark Side either...there are already enough Sith Lords, Daryl McBride Vaders, Bill Gates Borgs, etc. in the Universe.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664644)

We should build a giant prism there.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (4, Insightful)

TallMatthew (919136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664653)

What is the scientific end game of sending people to Mars?

The advancement of the species.

Not everything has to have an "end game."

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (0)

HaMMeReD3 (891549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664679)

Nuclear generators traditionally work by causing a reaction which generats heat which in turn generates steam.

Without water you have no nuclear power, so I dont think that would work to well on the moon.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664709)

Unless you could use your reactor heat to melt the preexisting ice to use as your coolant. Just a thought.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664740)

Screw the observatory.

put a radio telescope array or use a nuke to carve out a crater that makes arecibo look like a childs toy.

Imagine the sensitivity and possibilities with a dish the size of France unencumbered by the twits on the planet broadcasting at massive wattage AND having a nice big RF sink to your back between you and the noisy planet.

That would rock, be relatively easy compared to a regular observatory and probably only take very few launches to get all the parts on location.

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (3, Insightful)

sconeu (64226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664790)

What is the scientific end game of sending people to Mars?

Robert Burns figured it out in the 1700s.

"A man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

Re:Dark Side of The Moon (1)

E++99 (880734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664795)

My bias would be to land on the dark side of the moon (cue music) in order to build an observatory that will be uninfluenced by the earths, radio/tv/light/RF pollution. It could be powered by a small nuclear reactor eliminating the need for solar panels and there may in fact be larger ice deposits on the far side of the moon anyway.
That works until you consider communicating back to earth... I don't think a luno-stationary communication satellite would stay in orbit. But since they're talking about landing on a polar mountain, I think it would be ideal to build a nice shielded observatory on the "dark" side of the mountain, and a perpetually available solar collector and communication array on the peak of the mountain. ...And an Eath observatory on the "light" side of the mountain.

I know (3, Funny)

johnnyb (4816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664307)

Wherever it has the best/most cheese. Therefore, if the astronauts get stranded, they won't go hungry.

Re:I know (1)

pizzaman100 (588500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664353)

Wallace and Gromit [slashdot.org] found plenty of cheese the bright side. Watch out for the skiing coin operated fridge though...

Re:I know (1)

pizzaman100 (588500) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664378)

oops, this link [imdb.com] might be better.

We should land (0, Offtopic)

PlayCleverFully (947815) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664312)

Where we can find out the most info. not about water..

It is everyone's dream to find water here or there, but its a waste of BILLIONS if thats what you are up there looking for.

There are much better things to spend the money on, like Windows Vista, which is RUMORed to be going on shelves for $500 a POP.

Land near the cheese deposits (-1, Redundant)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664321)

We need to do a study of where the richest cheese deposits are and land there.

Re:Land near the cheese deposits (4, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664768)

We need to do a study of where the richest cheese deposits are and land there.

Already found it.

Look here [google.com] zoom in completely on point D.

Seeing as how this is our first time on the moon.. (0, Troll)

rtconner (544309) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664341)

we might as well do it the right way.

Re:Seeing as how this is our first time on the moo (1)

Bin Naden (910327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664364)

we might as well do it the right way.
But with a moon this fine, you gotta romance first...

Re:Seeing as how this is our first time on the moo (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664516)

so true. I wonder how they can make this real trip coincide with all the flaws they had in the last mission (to make the old one still somewhat believeable).

Contact (4, Interesting)

umbrellasd (876984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664362)

In the words of John Haddon, "Why build one, when you can build two for twice the price?" We should build two and target both the pole and the equator. Example: two mars landers. Good idea.

Redundancy is always key and it is more efficient to built two highly probably successes than one extremely probably success.

Re:Contact (1)

Bin Naden (910327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664414)

"Why build one, when you can build two for twice the price?"
Why not just send a swarm of them up there since as you increase production, price goes down: this is simple economics.

Re:Contact (2, Informative)

Icculus (33027) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664501)

If R&D or production tooling were the primary cost then, yeah that's a good idea. Blasting expensive stuff like landers to the moon or Mars costs just as much as blasting a chunk of rock though and it is not a negligible cost.

Re:Contact (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664620)

Blasting expensive stuff like landers to the moon or Mars costs just as much as blasting a chunk of rock though and it is not a negligible cost.

Even space launches are not immune to the economics of scale. A large portion of operating costs stem from ground crews and service techs who work to get these birds in the air. The more you can launch in a shorter period of time, the more money you save on labor. The Space Shuttle was intended to take advantage of those economics, but fell down for political (no customers) and technical (long turnaround) reasons. That's why the price of a Shuttle flight increased from 200 million to 500 million as the number of flights declined.

Re:Contact (1)

The evil non-flying (947059) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664483)

I agree we *should* send two, but realistically we'll be lucky if we can afford to send one. All of our irresponsible spending these last few decades and the looming baby boom social security/medicare devestation to the budgets, means one thing -- we're broke. We still behave like we're rich but once our creditors get tired of loaning us money we'll end up bankrupt. And bankrupt nations don't fly to the moon.

Re:Contact (1)

mr_burns (13129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664793)

I agree about doing both from the research perspective. We want to explore and set up operations on the whole moon, not just a corner of it.

However, logistics becomes a problem. What if you're out of a crucial supply at the equator but the station at the pole has many of them. In order to transport the supplies you'd have to do a lot of work. Either build a rail line between the two, have astronauts/mooninites get in their buggies and meet half way, go across that huge expanse Lawrence of Arabia style and back, have a huge supply ship in polar orbit raining supplies down on stations... etc. That's a lot of work.

So it might make sense to have one station, then a few nearby so the people stranded out there can say... run next door when a meteorite wipes out their kitchen.

Once we get the kinks of moon life worked out, then we put up another set of stations in another location. Then we expand the two towards each other. Maybe set up sub-stations 1/3 a tank of oxygen away from the "main" locations by buggy. Each one a li'l oasis.

The Moon - A rediculous Republican Myth (1)

heauxmeaux (869966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664363)

It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the republicans have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)

Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the GOP have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the Republicans will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Princeton is updated with information about you.

Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the Republicans can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "Moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "Moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the right-wing community, the "Moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!

Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "Moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1980. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the Moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "Moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by rightists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.

Re:The Moon - A rediculous Republican Myth (1)

dasnov (900499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664606)

Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "Moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1980.

Is your whole post a joke? And if you think that the moon hasn't been mentioned before the 80's then you need to become a little more educated on mythology. Oh wait I forgot that is just an elaborate ploy by the government to.

Infact disregard my whole post, I am just another secret agent working for the government.

an unpopular opinion (0, Offtopic)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664382)

I know my opinion will never be popular here, it is a place for nerds and all. However, I don't think we should go to the moon at all. I think we should get our house in order first. We are poluting ourselves out of house and home, we are running out of viable resources and we are constantly killing each other. There are far more useful ways to use our scientific resources. In this time of global warming and pollution I don't like the idea of rockets on useless missions wasting our resources and polluting our atmosphere. Maybe instead of a space program what we need is to spend some resources trying to find viable alternative sources of energy. Maybe instead of NASA the US government could spend all that money on a sustainability research agency. I am a scientist and a geek but I will never understand why going to the moon is so important. Oh, and before you say "there are resources on the moon we can use to alleviate our resource lack", there is no fuel on the moon for cars... there is nothing on the moon that we can't get here. Additionally, with our current technology, it would use more resources to get stuff here from the moon than it is worth. I do not say we should never go to the moon, or further, but clean up our mess first. Who goes on holiday when their house is a mess eh?

Re:an unpopular opinion (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664454)

Is that a joke? First off, most rocket exhaust (it varies on the rocket type, of course) is steam. Secondly, the amount of exhaust gasses put out by rockets is incredibly miniscule compared to the amount put out by cars or industry. Rockets are so expensive to make that they simply cannot currently comprise a major portion of our atmospheric pollution. Third, NASA is involved in the alternative energy business, with nuclear and solar research. Fourth, if you have cheap electricity (there are good reasons why lunar He-3 is a silly idea, but that is neither here or there), you can have cheap cars; batteries already exist, and cars don't *have* to run on combustion. Lastly, the premise is wrong, that one is either for manned lunar exploration or for cutting NASA's budget. I, for one, wish we'd focus far more effort on *robotic* exploration, which is much cheaper and more productive.

Re:an unpopular opinion (-1, Troll)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664526)

Isn't it interesting that "space exploration is great" believers are as vocal and nasty as OS bigots.

I am merely doing what we should all be doing and provoking debate. It is my opinion that a program that eats so much of a country's research budget for so little immediate benefit should be examined. I am merely questioning why the US is willing to spend so much getting to the moon yet is unwilling to devote money and effort to reducing their contribution to the greenhouse effect.

Re:an unpopular opinion (1)

aelbric (145391) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664668)

It is my opinion that a program that eats so much of a country's research budget for so little immediate benefit should be examined. I am merely questioning why the US is willing to spend so much getting to the moon yet is unwilling to devote money and effort to reducing their contribution to the greenhouse effect.

Little benefit. Such as: pacemakers, scratch-resistant lenses, nitinol for dental braces, improved fire-retardant materials, composites, teflon, smoke detectors, battery-powered tools, "memory" metals, shock-absorbent footwear, improved cell culturing, implantable heart pumps, improved diagnostic aids, electric cars, emmisions controls, etc?

Feel free to browse the NASA Spinoff Database [nasa.gov] to understand where all of that money goes. The funds invested in space technology repay themselves at least a hundred-fold in my opinion. If we weren't so short-sighted we would be investing (publicly and privately) at least 10 times what we do now.

Re:an unpopular opinion (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664759)

As I said in another comment, there is no way that more is achieved as a side effect of research than could be achieved by researching these things directly. The "NASA Spinoff" stuff is self-justifying propaganda. If 18billion dollars (or whatever the budget is currently) was spent on medical research, for example, that science would get all the benefits not just a side-effect.

Besides, I said "direct benefit".

Re:an unpopular opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664669)

Uh, he did debate you. You just got sensitive that he pointed out holes in your argument. How about instead of complaining that pro-space people are pro-space, you counter his argument?

Re:an unpopular opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664465)

waah!

Re:an unpopular opinion (1)

CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664469)

To quote Robert Heinlein
"Here is a way to spot space-research spinoffs: If it involves microminiaturization of any sort, minicomputers, miniaturized long-life power sources, highly reliable microswitches, remotely-controlled manipulators, image enhancers, small and sophisticated robotics or cybernetics, then, no matter where you find the item, at a critical point in its development it was part of our space program.

The most ironical thing about our space program is that there are thousands of people alive today who would be dead were it not for some item derived from space research--but are blissfully unaware of the fact--and complain about 'wasting all the money on stupid, useless space stunts when we have so many really important problems to solve right here on Earth."

Re:an unpopular opinion (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664707)

so, you are honestly trying to tell me that more can be achieved in "minicomputers, miniaturized long-life power sources, highly reliable microswitches, remotely-controlled manipulators, image enhancers, small and sophisticated robotics or cybernetics" as a side effect of space travel than could be achieved if these things are reseached independently with the same money?

Helium-3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664525)

you state "there is no fuel on the moon for cars... there is nothing on the moon that we can't get here. "

I think it is a little easier to acquire helium-3 there than here.

Read about the Russian plan to harvest helium-3 http://www.thespacereview.com/article/551/1 [thespacereview.com]

Re:Helium-3 (1)

Claire-plus-plus (786407) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664542)

Yeah Helium-3, we can use it to run our fusion reactors

Oh that's right, we don't have any or even any real idea how to build them... I forgot.

Re:an unpopular opinion (2, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664561)

Meh. The problems of today are political, not practical.

It's not a lack of agricultural production or transportation capacity that causes famines anymore, it's politics. In recent times, India has had food supply shortages but no famine due to good management of available resources. And Somalia has had food supply surpluses but rampant famine due to bad management of available resources. And that's just one example.

I figure, politics is good for solving a lot of problems in the world, but not all of them. It also causes a lot of problems. And since it's not going away, at least it can give us some space research as a side effect.

I just about agree... (2, Interesting)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664618)

The moon is great and all. It does, in the long run, in fact help things like sustainability. And I'm not sure about other reasons like H3. But I just don't think it's realistic anymore. Going to the moon will get us advances in rocketry, robotics, and solar panels. And, with NASA, the focus is always on doing things the best way regardless of cost. Does anybody really need more expensive robots and solar panels to make their lives better?

Perhaps we would get more out of sending a few people into the middle of the Pacific and keeping them there for a few years. Let's see how cheaply we can pull off something like that. Instead of expensive electronics, equip them with basic, indestructible technology. We'd get advances in cheap renewable energy, micro-manufacturing, more efficient farming, and affordable, reliable technologies to perform basic tasks like water purification and waste treatment. Perhaps even self-replicating machines would benefit.

I'd rather see research in giving people with nothing more than air, water, and sunlight a standard of living higher than subsistence than figuring out new ways of extracting water from moon dust and building solar panels that work in the arctic. But, like you, I'm probably in the minority here on Slashdot in that regard.

The scientific solution: (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664634)

"Doctor, it hurts when I go like this . . ."

Now that we've got that science out of the way, can we go to the moon now?

KFG

The eye of course! (1)

Zardoz the Destroyer (952720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664383)

I saw we aim for the Moon's eye, pfff.

http://www.filmsite.org/voya.html [filmsite.org]

Re:The eye of course! (1)

freehunter (937092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664624)

Get it's weak spot! HIGH SCORE! Yeah, I am an idiot. -5, troll =/

Both (1, Insightful)

geekwithsoul (860466) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664385)

There should be a way to deliver (in the same mission)astronauts to the location that would deliver the most scientific benefit, and also deliver an instrument package to the other location. It is not rocket scie ... hmm, never mind.

Re:Both (1)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664552)

Water vs. Mineral resources?

Well, which is easier to ferry into space from earth as a payload? I would assume water (with some sort of renewable extractor) plus the already necesary food. Therefore, I would think the first step would be a mining colony on the Moon. The scientific research would come later.

Wouldn't that be the first logical step? Then, you would have a self sufficient and less expensive launchpad to Mars and beyond. So, I say let's dig up some trenches on the equator and build ourselves the Moon Alpha Mining Association (or MAMA for short). The Petroleum Alpha Production Alliance (PAPA) would soon follow...

not sure about the difference... (1)

Pavel Stratil (950257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664388)

I guess there won't be a breaktrough discovery if we land in either place. But if a decision has to be taken, why not using some relatively cheaper technology to have a look of whats on the poles... If the private sector can reach outer space, there shouldn't be a problem for NASA to come up with a low-cost survey method of the poles...

Re:not sure about the difference... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664649)

you think sending someone into 'space' for a few minutes is the same as going to the moon and taking a survey?

The Poles!???!!! (0, Flamebait)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664397)

The Polish put screendoors on their submarines! How did they get to the moon???

Re:The Poles!???!!! (1, Funny)

Gadgetfreak (97865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664674)

You know, I happen to be a mechanical engineer at Electric Boat in Groton, CT, where we design & build nuclear subs for the US Navy. The focus of design in the past several years (post cold-war) has been centered around special operations forces capabilities, like sending out Navy SEAL frogmen and the like.
And occasionally, I think... a screen door really would help keep the fish and seaweed out of the lockout chamber when the frogmen are out on the mission.
And then I just shake my head and say "How would I ever suggest to someone that it might be useful to put a screen door on the submarine?" I'm not even Polish, so I don't even have an excuse.

Land on the pole or equator? (0, Redundant)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664435)

Absolutely.

KFG

Well that brings up the question... (5, Funny)

suitepotato (863945) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664437)

...when did the Poles get to the moon ahead of the Americans and why are we considering landing on them? Let's make it the equator and take second place. Go Poland!

Huh? Oh.

Nevermind.

Re:Well that brings up the question... (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664779)

...when did the Poles get to the moon ahead of the Americans

Well screw them anyways.
We'll build our own moon base! Only with blackjack and hookers!

Or maybe we will just 'liberate' their base.

Land where the "man on the moon" lives. (1)

qcs-rf.com (952717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664445)

They should land near where the man on the moon lives. Then the astronauts could have a friendly little chat with him to find the best cheese, the best moon rocks, and the best place to land on their next visit.

Re:Land where the "man on the moon" lives. (1)

The UberDork (689979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664803)

"You might think it's goofy, but the man in the moon is a newfie."

Easy answer: Land near the poles... (1)

thx1138_az (163286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664461)

Simply because we now can. We've already landed along the equator in the 60's because we had no choice. Now we have the technology and extra "delta-v" to land anywhere.

Split the difference (1)

Expert Determination (950523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664474)

Land at 45 degree latitude. Hmmm...that gives an unfair bias towards the poles because there's less are at the equator. Ideally it should be at whatever latitude splits the area between 0 degrees and 90 degrees equally.

We should simply do it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664479)

Just land where we previously landed. Why? Simple:

1) We know how it needs to be done.
2) We can once and for all get rid of / prove without doubt - the several rumours about fake moon landings.

Re:We should simply do it again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664678)

Just land where we previously landed.

So we shouldn't go at all?

Heh (4, Funny)

aftk2 (556992) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664517)

At first I thought this was an "Ask Slashdot" entry, at which point I thought, "I'm not sure I want to trust NASA with a shuttle program."

Re:Heh or What I Wrote In Space Camp (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664587)

At first I thought this was an "Ask Slashdot" entry, at which point I thought, "I'm not sure I want to trust NASA with a shuttle program."

Heck, I'm not even that sure how many space shuttles we have left, they keep blowing them up all the time ...

Re:Heh or What I Wrote In Space Camp (1)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664642)

Heck, I'm not even that sure how many space shuttles we have left, they keep blowing them up all the time.

Once every ten years or so, you mean?

Its not possible atpit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664536)

I dont think it's possible, with our current technology, to actually land on the moon.

We should land in the Tropics (2, Funny)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664560)

after all, if we've travelled all the way to the moon, we might as well get an Earthtan for all our trouble, and break out the Virgin Daquiris in their squeeze tetrapacks all round.

Heck, we should think about making a Club Med on the Moon - we'll have lots of Lunar Tokens to buy water with - ok, dirty ice crystals from crevices, but the same concept.

And we should put up a big neon sign that says "UFOs Land Here! Interplanetary Spaceport! Have your Binary Passports ready!"

But whatever we do, let's just borrow the money for it from the overflowing national treasury built up by all those savings we've been saving ... um, wait, last time I checked we were at a negative savings rate as a nation because of Tax Cuts for Billionaires so they can buy jewelry for their teacup chihuahuas ....

Best spot for mass driver? (1)

kmahan (80459) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664568)

So where is the best spot for the mass driver http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_driver/ [wikipedia.org] ? We need to get construction started on that.

Why Not Have Both? (4, Interesting)

Jammerwoch (73739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664569)

The polar circumfrence of the moon is ony about 3500 km, so any point from the equator to either pole is approximately a quarter of that, 875 km. The original lunar rovers used in the first lunar exploration had a top speed of just under 13 km/hr and very limited ranges, so they would obviously be unsuited to take a "lunar road trip." But it seems to me that we could build a vehicle that was more like a "lunar RV" that could make the trip. Say we improve rover speed to a modest 45 km/hr and assume we can't take a perfectly direct course to a pole...call it 900 km. So it would take 20 hours in your VW lunar rover. As long as they pack enough ganja and doritos, they should be fine. It seems that with the low gravity and cloudless skies, that kind of performance could be achieved with solar power, perhaps boosted by some chemical propulsion. It would have to be capable of carrying enough oxygen for the crew to survive for several days, but it seems like this would be possible.

Re:Why Not Have Both? (1)

rahultyagi (924414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664758)

are you sure about the circumference? I thought the diameter of moon is about 3500 km. So, in order for both of us to be true, we'll have to agree to keep the value of pi to be 1.

Not sure if the Creator would be happy with that arrangement....

Re:Why Not Have Both? (0)

sconeu (64226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664814)

The polar circumfrence of the moon is ony about 3500 km

BZZZTT! And thank you for playing. Here's [sjgames.com] your lovely parting gift.

The moon has a diameter of roughly 2160 miles, giving it a diameter of 3500 km, and a circumference of roughly 21800 km. Equator to pole is therefore about 5450 km.

why we NEED to land on the moon... (1)

hangingonwords (581642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664599)

so i've read a few posts and whatnot and well it seems there's some debate on why we should go back to the moon. people ask what resources are on the moon that aren't here or debate that maybe we should spend nasa funding on fixing our own planet first, etc, etc... people seem to be missing the fact that if we DON'T go back to the moon soon that the moonpie shortage could spiral out of control... i for one support nasa's decision to return to the moon and resupply earth with moonpie.

Yes (0, Redundant)

richmaine (128733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664611)

Yes.

Equator! (1)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664643)

Wouldn't it be warmer there? The poles on the other hand, would be too cold!

Why ... the North Pole, of Course (1)

2Dumb2B4Gotten (952658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664650)

And I have just the man for the job, Yukon Cornelius:

http://actionfigures.about.com/library/tf01/ntf01- rudolph01.htm [about.com]

Only he will be able to find the existing but somewhat misfit labor force needed to begin Moon mining operations:

http://actionfigures.about.com/library/tf01/ntf01- rudolph09.htm [about.com]

Mountain for sure! (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664681)

I say go for the mountaintop landing. It's much harder, but if you survive you score way more points, and you get an extra fuel bonus.

I've always wanted to know the answer to this: (3, Interesting)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664691)

In the Mythbusters interview, among other places, it has been suggested that the best way to counter the myth that the moon landing was faked is to go back to the moon and bring back something from the previous astronauts.

I've always wondered why the hell we can't prove or disprove the moon landing myth by just pointing a friggin' telescope at it? I mean, if there is any such astronaut junk...couldn't the Hubble or even some small terrestrial telescope pick it out? There's no wind on the moon, so shouldn't the footprints and tire tracks still be visible? Did Neil Armstrong leave the flag planted or bring it back?

Why have I never seen pictures of these features? We can see planets a brazilian light years away but we can't pick out a landing zone a few hundred thousand miles away? The pictures on moon.google.com don't appear to have any better resolution than my digital camera can produce.

So maybe someone can answer this question for me. What prevents us from looking at the moon's surface with any sort of detail, and since the moon is our next big destination resort, why haven't we sent a probe to do the same kind of high-resolution imaging of the surface like we have for every other planet in our solar system? We might need to know where the best places are to build those hydrogen refineries or whatever.

-JoeShmoe
.

I say... (1)

Serff (183148) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664708)

We land on the equator! Am I a scientist? No, but I did stay at the holiday inn express last night...

Where is BSD? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14664721)

Why was the BSD catagory removed? This must be a mistake.

Short term vs long term (1)

caffeination (947825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664731)

For the sake of simplifying the argument into a single narrow viewpoint, which I can later defend to the death (don't we all love to do that?):
Go to which ever place is most likely to yield the most short term benefits. In the long term, we can go to both. It's only right now, in terms of specific missions, that we have to choose.
I predict many a boring paper being submitted arguing the case one way or the other.

WHICH EVER IS EASIEST (1)

solios (53048) | more than 8 years ago | (#14664806)

Can we just get BACK TO THE MOON ALREADY?!. Sheesh. Before I'm collecting social security, please?!

Seriously. Rebuild the launch technology first, then follow it up with improvements and start planting bases and solar arrays and observatories like cigarette butts in the park.
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