Should we go to Mars or the Moon? For the past handful of years, ever since the rovers touched down on the martian surface, we don’t often hear too much going on with our moon.
Here is an article from Yahoo News, which originated by Mike Wehner at BGR.com, that got me thinking.
With the memory of the Schiaparelli probe’s crash still fresh in our memory, mankind remains steadfast in its pursuit of landing more hardware on Mars. To that end, the European Space Agency just finalized a deal with Thales Alenia Space for the second half of the ExoMars mission, dubbed ExoMars 2020, which hopes to land yet another rover on the Red Planet.
ExoMars 2020 aims to arrive at Mars, land and deploy a climate monitoring station and accompanying rover, and perform tests in the hopes of finding traces of life that may have one existed on the now barren planet.
What’s particularly interesting about the 2020 mission is the rover itself, which will be equipped with a drill capable of digging up to two meters into the surface. Scientists believe that the telltale signs of Martian life may still exist down there, and that once we have the right tools in place on the planet, we may stumble upon something truly amazing. ~ Read the entire article at BGR.com
I’m not the most scientifically adept person you’ll stumble upon, not by a long shot. However, this short article attached above caused for me to wonder a couple of things about how space exploration is being handled. Are we really that done with the Moon, that our focus should be on a much more distant and difficult project? Should we really be punching holes on Mars before establishing a continuous presence on the Moon?
Conspiracy Theories about the Moon
There are a host of different conspiracy theories about the Moon, as well as Mars. They can range to completely nuts, to almost plausible, followed by plausible but unlikely, to could be, to what have you. A quick couple of searches with some keywords that pertain to the topic can yield thousands of pages of different theories.
We hear that there is an abundance of resources hidden under the surface of the moon. We also find talk about there being vast amounts of gold peppering the surface as well. We also hear that the Moon is hollow and resonates like a bell. We hear that there’s different populations living on the Moon, most of which don’t want us there, and threatened the last away team to never come back.
You can find that there is indeed a breathable oxygen rich atmosphere on the Moon, and we are actively operating up there as we speak. You’ll learn that the Moon actually has a yellow/orange hue during daytime, instead of the blackness of space as we see from footage from NASA.
Many people believe that the moon landing was a fake, and that we can’t get past the Van Allen radiation belt that resides between the Earth and the Moon. There are also dozens of theories, each boasting some kind of evidence, that the moon is nothing that we’ve been told it is, but is a vessel that was parked there a long, long, time ago.
These are just a few of the different theories from off the top of my head. There is one outstanding reason that these theories exist.
We’re not there to observe it!
If NASA, or any space exploratory program dedicated itself to Moon exploration to the degree that exploration has been accomplished in the past right here on earth, these theories would be pecked away one after another. At least any of them that didn’t prove true. Wouldn’t you say?
For example, if it was just as easy for people to visit the Moon as it is to visit Japan from the UK, then there wouldn’t be any cause for conspiracy. But it’s not that easy, and I don’t believe for a second that the reason for that is lack of adequate technology. Would anyone argue that technology these days might be a little bit better than it was in the 60’s?
If we did it then, why not now? Why not to a destination constructed as a tourist attraction for those who wish to visit the Moon? Shouldn’t we be talking about stabilizing public transportation from the Moon to Earth before talking about sending people to Mars? The article above is speaking about a rover, I understand. Here is an article from nasa.gov that might allow you to see why I’m minimalizing the new rover mission.
Should we go to Mars or the Moon? NASA would seem to rather forget about the Moon, at least that’s the sense when reading the following article.
Journey to Mars Overview
NASA is on a journey to Mars, with a goal of sending humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s. That journey is already well under way.
For decades, the agency and its partners have sent orbiters, landers and rovers, dramatically increasing our knowledge about the Red Planet and paving the way for future human explorers. The Curiosity rover has gathered radiation data to help us protect future astronauts, and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover will study the availability of Martian resources, including oxygen.
There is more to learn as we expand humanity’s presence into the solar system: Was Mars once home to microbial life or is it today? Can it be a safe home for humans? What can the Red Planet teach us about our own planet’s past, present and future?
Building on the robotic legacy, the human exploration of Mars crosses three thresholds, each with increasing challenges as humans move farther from Earth: Earth Reliant, the Proving Ground, and Earth Independent.
Earth Reliant phase of NASA’s Journey to Mars
Earth Reliant exploration is focused on research aboard the International Space Station. The orbiting microgravity laboratory serves as a world-class test bed for the technologies and communications systems needed for human missions to deep space. Astronauts are learning about what it takes to live and work in space for long periods of time, increasing our understanding of how the body changes in space and how to protect astronaut health.
We’re also working with our commercial crew and cargo partners to provide access to low-Earth orbit and eventually stimulate new economic activity, allowing NASA to continue using the station while preparing for missions beyond.
Proving ground phase of NASA’s Journey to Mars
Next, we move into the Proving Ground, conducting a series of missions near the moon — we call it “cislunar space” — that will test the capabilities we will need to live and work at Mars. Astronauts on the space station are only hours away from Earth, but the proving ground is days away, a natural stepping stone to a Mars mission, which will be months away from home.
Why in the world would we do everything BUT set up an establishment on the Moon’s surface?
Which is easier – Mars or the Moon?
At least from a simpleton’s perspective (my own) I would think that any manned mission to Mars would greatly benefit from a lunar presence to launch from. I also think the success rate would skyrocket (pun intended) having that added experience under our kuiper belts. To me personally, it just doesn’t make any sense at all.
It’s that lack of sense that fuels the fire of conspiracy. Is there an untold reason that we’re not taking lunar vacations almost 40 years after having touched down on the Moon’s surface? It there’s not a reason, then what’s the problem? How could anyone imagine that it would be easier to head out to Mars, than it would to get things going on the Moon?
Thanks for reading this article/rant about the lunar facepalm. Leave your comments down below and fill me in on your thoughts about: Should we go to Mars or the Moon?