Should we return to the Moon? While Elon Musk, Mars One, and even NASA have their sights set on the Red planet, many think that the Moon is a better option for space exploration.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is one — they just released a new video stating that the Moon is an important and crucial step in mankind’s future.
“In the future, the Moon can become a place where the nations of the world can come together to understand our common origins, to build a common future, and to share a common journey beyond. A place where we can learn to move onwards into the solar system,” ESA explains in the video “Destination: Moon”.
ESA envisions future manned missions to the far side of the Moon — also known as the dark side of the Moon because it never faces the Earth (though it isn’t shrouded in darkness at all). This alien landscape is a rugged terrain, scarred with billions of years worth of impact craters, including one of the largest impact craters in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin.
Scientists think the crater formed around 4 billion years ago. Inside of this 8.1-mile-deep crater, certain parts are shrouded in perpetual, freezing darkness, but at the crater’s rim, shown below, are high, mountainous peaks that bathe in almost-constant sunlight. It’s here, on these lunar mountains that ESA plans to send robots and eventually humans.
Mankind has never set foot on the far side of the moon before. The first to investigate this hidden half of the Moon were the Soviets in 1959 when they sent the Luna 3 probe. Luna 3 took 18 resolvable photographs that were compiled into the first published atlas of the far-side of the Moon.
These mountains along the crater’s rim are an ideal place to explore because they have “the potential for near continuous solar power and a spectacular view over the rugged and cratered landscape below.”
Those aren’t the only reasons: In 2009, NASA sent the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite to the Moon’s South Pole. The instrument impacted the ground at 5,600 miles per hour and then analysed the chemical composition of the material below the surface discovering traces of frozen water.
By sending future missions to the Moon we will be able to answer questions like:
- Is there water elsewhere on the Moon?
- If so, how much?
- Where did it come from?
- And what can it teach us about the origins of water and life on Earth?
If the Moon proves to have an abundant store of water under it surface, then future human generations can use the hydrogen and oxygen atoms for rocket fuel.
“Fuel to propel us further into the solar system and onto the next destination of our journey into the cosmos,” the video concludes.
Check out the full video below:
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