Dr. Paul Spudis of the Lunar Planetary Institute in his blog The Once and Future Moon has inundated us in the recent months with a reminder of the compelling reasons for our continued pursuit of a sustained human presence on the moon. If these reasons, summarized shortly, are not enough to continue our pursuit of an extended human presence on the moon, then add to them the recent discovery by Martin Wieser of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics of a 224-mile wide lunar region with a magnetic field.
“The magnetic region could be a great place to site a lunar base, since tomorrow’s lunar colonists will not only need water, but some protection from the heavy radiation in the solar wind.”
Add this new discovery to the list of other compelling reasons, and a return to the moon seems not only like a good idea but the right idea for human space exploration.
As promised, here is a summary of Dr. Spudis’ rationale for continuing Constellation and the lunar return directed by the Vision for Space Exploration: the moon provides… continuous accessibility for human missions with “easy and continuous abort capability” due to the close proximity, near-real-time communications for operating robotic systems from Earth, detailed geological records of the Solar events that are a “principal driver of Earth’s climate”, a ground environment on the dark side for radio telescopes that is free of Earth’s radio noise, poles with near-continuous light that eases the design of lunar-outpost thermal and power systems, and massive ice deposits that could be utilized for in-situ fuel rocket fuel production and for a multitude of human life-support and protection systems (in fact, we recommend scanning the NASA Lunar In-Situ Resource Utilization study of 2007 to get a full breadth of the uses of lunar water and other lunar resources for establishing a long-term human presence).