Author Topic: Why we need to go back to the moon  (Read 74392 times)

Offline Danny Dot

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Why we need to go back to the moon
« on: 10/19/2009 01:25 pm »
I started this idea in the thread on the recent experiment to look for water ice on the moon.  I hope this is a good topic and this is the right place.  I think we need to go to the moon to get more samples then via the internet and NASA TV get our school kids into the middle of the process.  The key is to not just publish the results, but to put the raw data on the internet and teach them how to do their own data reduction and analysis of the raw data.

I think we can even throw in teaching them climate change via antarctic ice core samples (like Al Gore did) and then lunar core samples (after we get them) to look at the history of meteor and comet bombardment and see if there is a correlation to our climate change history. 

I have been looking at the lunar data that supports water on the poles.  It is really strange.  There is a sharp drop off of a type of neutron flux starting at about 60 degrees latitude. 

To me this is more of a question than an answer.  To look further we not only need surface samples, we need core samples.  Core samples are probably a manned mission vs. a robot mission.

I think Obama and Bolden need to ask congress to fund NASA to get polar core (and surface) samples so we can see what is happening on the moon.  While NASA is at it, the sample returns can become a science experiment for school kids of all ages via the internet and NASA TV.  They will get to learn about high energy physics and nuclear fission in the process. 

We can even get them to help design the space ships and the other machines needed.  They will certainly learn things like if you are going to use solar cells for power, you need some huge batteries to power the system at night.  They can learn all about uranium rectors and why they aren't going to blowup and kill everyone.  They will be surprised they are really a very simple machine and very safe if designed and operated correctly (Three Mile Island had both design and operating problems).

A good teaching by designing exercise would be mining water if we find some, vs. recycling, vs. bringing it from Earth.  School kids would eat this right up.  The machines to do mining on the moon would be a blast to design.  They would need to operate at close to absolute zero, in the dark, go up and down a crater wall, and the ore is very, very abrasive.  Off the top of my head, I don't have a clue on how to build one.  NASA engineers would be required to spend a few hours on the internet every week teaching our kids how they do their job.  On the RLV thread I threw up the Chapman's equation on entry heating and a couple of guys are using it correctly to design a reusable rocket. 

When I taught physics the kids LOVED to design space ships, fighter aircraft and such.  One of the parents had some concerns that we were designing a weapon to penetrate deep into a cave to blow up terrorist, but they finally approved because it was the first time their son wanted to do his homework instead of watching TV.  I also assured them we were just doing a little linear kinematics to calculate the required impact velocity and not any details on how to make explosives and fuses and such.

I have also learned the moon is leaking radioactive gas in a couple of places.  I think we need a couple of sample return mission from those sites as well.

I have a longer list of reasons to go back to the moon.  Some manned, some unmanned.  The theme is to turn the moon into a giant science experiment for us and our kids.  There are plenty of questions we have no answers for.  Our moon may be the strangest, least understood body in the universe.  We know more about black holes than we know about the moon.  We don't even know how the darn thing got here.

Danny Deger

Edit: On this hypothetical internet site, the use of NASA acronyms will be strictly forbidden.  ISS will be called station, the STS will be called shuttle, etc.  It is impossible for even NASA engineers to read half of NASA's own writings.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2009 01:41 pm by Danny Dot »
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Offline Launchpad911

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #1 on: 10/19/2009 02:41 pm »
Danny,

You are absolutely right. We need to kid kids more involved. Not only for the educational value, but because it will be their generation will be the ones going to the Moon. Being that the return the Moon is several decades away, the next Gene (or Jeanine?) Cernan may be sitting in a classroom right now and we need to get them excited about the space program again.
My wife is a sixth grade science teacher and she knows that hands-on instruction is much better than learning by rote from a book when it comes to getting kids excited about learning. To me, a great idea would be teleoperated robotic rovers on the Moon that kids could run from their classrooms via the internet. Heck, I'd go back to school for a chance to use that!
You are also right that NASA needs to get more involved in the kids education about space. Of course, it takes a budget to do that. I know they try with some educational programs on NASATV, but I wonder how much of that makes it to the classrooms. How about some NASA funded scholarships for teachers and students? Select the best students and give them a chance to visit NASA centers so they can see first hand how the hardware is built and the science missions selected.
As to the use of of acronyms, amen to that. I wouldn't mind if a few less acronyms were used here, too.

Offline Celebrimbor

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #2 on: 10/19/2009 03:09 pm »
Danny,

I'm more than a little sceptical that improving high school education in linear kinematics and data reduction are sufficent reasons for risking the lives of astronauts on the Moon.

Why should a core sample mission be manned as opposed to robotic?

Why don't you advocate teaching kids how to design and operate robotic missions?

Lets step outside of ourselves for a moment and consider the possibility that our obsession that people should be on the moon is nothing more than the product of our own education.

Myself, I've finally submitted to disillusionment and now I'm wary of continuing the cycle.

Offline Danny Dot

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #3 on: 10/19/2009 03:48 pm »
snip
Why don't you advocate teaching kids how to design and operate robotic missions?
snip

I think this would be a great idea.  Dust off the very successful mars rover design, change it to operate on the moon and send up a bunch of them.  Land on one of the Apollo landing sites to take a look.  We could even let high school classes drive them around a bit to collect data they decide they need -- after they have completed their primary mission of course.

Core samples are a pain to get and the process is complex and prone to problems a robot might have a hard time resolving.  Look at the video of how much trouble they had getting them during Apollo.  If you look at what we did at each of the Apollo landing sites, it would be next to impossible to build a robot to do all they did and return the samples they did.  But, you could do core samples robotically.  It is actually too early to decide as you are pointing out.  But we could certainly use some polar core samples right now. 

I am just trying to generate reasons to go back to the moon.  I think discussing robots vs. manned is essential.  I am glad you pointed this out.

Danny Deger

Edit: I am willing to risk my life to teach our kids physics.  Every astronaut I have ever met I think feels the same.  We risk our lives all the time for a lot less than this.  I am about ready to risk my life by getting on the Houston expressway system to see a friend of mine  ;)
« Last Edit: 10/19/2009 03:54 pm by Danny Dot »
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Offline Danny Dot

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #4 on: 10/19/2009 04:13 pm »
snip

You are also right that NASA needs to get more involved in the kids education about space. Of course, it takes a budget to do that. I know they try with some educational programs on NASATV, but I wonder how much of that makes it to the classrooms.

snip


I can tell you the current NASA TV programs are not hit in the classroom.  There is one show that has a couple of guys chatting it up that is pretty good.  General Bolden would be a great teacher to put on.  He is in my opinion a great speaker and would connect with the kids.  Hire Bill Nie the Science Guy.  Maybe start a program called "The Mad Rocket Scientist".  It is essential to entertain while teaching the kids.  I found it an essential part of teaching astronauts actually.  Some of the material is really, really dry -- acting nuts in front of them at least keeps them awake  ;D

Even astronauts that are funny and could connect with the kids turn into robots on NASA TV.  It is OK to say we reek of body odor because we don't have a shower, we wear underwear over and over to save water; we have issues on whether we can share food with the Russian's or not, etc. 

Danny Deger
« Last Edit: 10/19/2009 04:43 pm by Danny Dot »
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Offline cgrunska

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #5 on: 10/19/2009 04:33 pm »
a thousand times yes to everything stated about connecting to kids

especially getting people in front of the kids who aren't afraid to talk about interesting, maybe not publically known (that well) stuff. Maybe knowing there is no shower isn't that scientifically beneficial for the kids to know, but i bet it would be one of the things they remember about that particular program.

Keep it looking fresh too. A huge turn off and instant glaze over for school kids is having someone put on a show or video that looks like it was made in the 70s or 80s, or even 90s now.

get the kids interested, use hands on stuff. Maybe rig a camera up on the moon with some cool things near by (apollo landing sights, geographic locations) that the students can use to pan and zoom as they see fit. The difficulty on that is, who determines which classroom in america gets to control the rover/camera that day, or that class period. 

Offline Danny Dot

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #6 on: 10/19/2009 04:40 pm »
snip
get the kids interested, use hands on stuff. Maybe rig a camera up on the moon with some cool things near by (apollo landing sights, geographic locations) that the students can use to pan and zoom as they see fit. The difficulty on that is, who determines which classroom in america gets to control the rover/camera that day, or that class period. 

That is easy.  The classroom that generates the most email and snail mail to congress begging for lunar core sample data so they can learn more about climate change  ;D

Congress would have to fund a manned mission just to keep their mail servers from jamming up.

Danny Deger
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Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #7 on: 10/19/2009 04:41 pm »
I like this thread.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline William Barton

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #8 on: 10/19/2009 04:42 pm »
We don't need to go back to the Moon, and didn't really need to go in the first place. The question now is, why do we want to go back to the Moon? (I know why we wanted to go in the first place, of course."

Offline Danny Dot

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #9 on: 10/19/2009 04:45 pm »
We don't need to go back to the Moon, and didn't really need to go in the first place. The question now is, why do we want to go back to the Moon? (I know why we wanted to go in the first place, of course."

Do you mean even with robots?

Danny Deger
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Offline veedriver22

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #10 on: 10/19/2009 05:07 pm »
 There is now a moon version of google eath.  Have them search for sites that look interesting or might have resources.   Sim's are ok for a while but having them work with something thats real I think would be more exciting.   Also have a kids section of NASASPACEFLIGHT.COM where they can post & discuss their findings.  You would want teachers & scientists that would review thier topics & give them feedback on what they are seeing and suggestions on what to do next.

 Even cooler would be for NASA to actually select some of the sites that look promisiing.   Maybe a list of the promising sites and the kids that found them.

Offline JohnFornaro

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #11 on: 10/19/2009 05:18 pm »
William:

I don't get this: "We don't need to go back to the Moon, and didn't really need to go in the first place."  We don't need to go to Mars either.  I'm not really sure where you're going with your remark.
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Danny Dot

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #12 on: 10/19/2009 05:49 pm »
There is now a moon version of google eath.  Have them search for sites that look interesting or might have resources.   Sim's are ok for a while but having them work with something thats real I think would be more exciting.   Also have a kids section of NASASPACEFLIGHT.COM where they can post & discuss their findings.  You would want teachers & scientists that would review thier topics & give them feedback on what they are seeing and suggestions on what to do next.

 Even cooler would be for NASA to actually select some of the sites that look promisiing.   Maybe a list of the promising sites and the kids that found them.

Sounds like we need a Space Act Agreement between NASA and Google.  Google can incorporate all the NASA data on the moon into the system.

Danny Deger
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #13 on: 10/19/2009 06:00 pm »
There is now a moon version of google eath.  Have them search for sites that look interesting or might have resources.   Sim's are ok for a while but having them work with something thats real I think would be more exciting.   Also have a kids section of NASASPACEFLIGHT.COM where they can post & discuss their findings.  You would want teachers & scientists that would review thier topics & give them feedback on what they are seeing and suggestions on what to do next.

 Even cooler would be for NASA to actually select some of the sites that look promisiing.   Maybe a list of the promising sites and the kids that found them.

Sounds like we need a Space Act Agreement between NASA and Google.  Google can incorporate all the NASA data on the moon into the system.

Danny Deger
This is a great idea, something that NASA should do anyway. It'd be great publicity for Google (not like they need it), could be done with their "20% time," and would greatly increase the quality and accessibility of NASA's data. Of course, it must all be open-sourced.
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Offline Patchouli

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #14 on: 10/19/2009 06:00 pm »
My big gripe is not the question of do we need to go back to the moon because we do but instead in it's execution.

The big problem with CxP is it gets the horse before the cart and thus makes the same fatal mistakes Apollo did as far as being a sustainable architecture.

The first problems that must be addressed is flight rate and the cost per Kg.
Ares and Orion do not make an attempt to address this in fact Ares I is actually much more expensive per Kg then the ELLVs or even the shuttle it is supposed to replace.

Project constellation went awry when they abandoned the spiral development plan.

Really they needed to first look at safe low cost access to LEO get that right and then develop an architecture around that.

Instead they threw out that plan and decided to repeat Apollo and so far this has proven to be the wrong course.

But some alternatives proposed such as Jupiter and ULAs depot based architecture do partly address these problems.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2009 06:03 pm by Patchouli »

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #15 on: 10/19/2009 06:14 pm »
NASA is spending untold billions right now because it insists on getting all the cargo up in one go WHILE making it bigger and badder than Apollo. If we designed something sustainable (and, dare I say, reusable), we could do all sorts of exploring on the moon.

We could afford a hundred lunar sorties per decade if commercially-refueled propellant depots in LEO and LLO (or, *sigh* some Lagrange point, if you insist) work out along with a (potentially reusable) small lunar lander that can act go from LEO to the Moon's surface and back to LEO just by refueling where necessary (preferably not on the lunar surface) and without staging. That way, you can also use commercial crew services for going between the Earth's surface and LEO (and back). Could be launched dry on anything.


If we have a Jupiter-130-class vehicle or better, we could go to Mars by using the same refueling technology (and even the same lander, actually, for a sortie on the Mars surface with ISRU).

Also, we could afford to study every nearby NEO that we find.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

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Offline Danny Dot

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #16 on: 10/19/2009 06:34 pm »
Can we keep focused on "why" not "how"?  We have many places on this site on "how".

For example, what data do we need to answer which question that we still have about the moon. 

Danny Deger
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #17 on: 10/19/2009 06:47 pm »
Can we keep focused on "why" not "how"?  We have many places on this site on "how".

For example, what data do we need to answer which question that we still have about the moon. 

Danny Deger

Sorry, gotcha.

I agree we just need to explore. We need to go out there and see what's there. Let's just make sure we do it responsibly so we can keep going out there.

But yeah. Another reason to go to the Moon is to encourage growth and experience with the sort of technology that is needed for exploiting energy and mineral resources on asteroids, etc. Heck, we might not even have enough inexpensively-accessible rare earth minerals on Earth to provide enough solar energy for everyone on Earth from the cheap thin-film solar panels that people like Nanosolar are making.

I really do buy the semi-religious argument of doing it for the human spirit, etc. I mean, we live short lives, and it's all purposeless if we are just sitting in front of the TV/computer until we die.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline ChuckC

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #18 on: 10/19/2009 07:20 pm »
The main reasons I think we need to return to the moon is the need for experience living on another planet. At this point we have exactly two weeks total time on another planetary body and that was about 40 years ago. This no were near enough to go heading off to mars.

The Moon provides an opportunity learn what we need to survive on Mars. Living on the Moon is harder than Mars and so if we can have a crew survive there for two yeas without re-supply then Mars will be do able. For example if we can maintain good health in the Moonís 1/6 g then Marsí 1/3 will not be a problem.

The Moon is a perfect test bed because it is so close. If a massive problem occurs on a moon base requiring evacuation, the crew can return to Earth any time it needs to, On Mars the crew would die. So lets learn to do it on the Moon where the risk to the crew is smaller. 

Offline agman25

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Re: Why we need to go back to the moon
« Reply #19 on: 10/19/2009 07:29 pm »
Figure out and properly date the Late Heavy Bombardment. Look for traces of aminoacids in impact craters. Figure out at what time the aminoacid bearing impacts were. Statistically sample and date the impact craters to find the probabilty of impact events and if that has changed over time.

Lots of fun stuff to do. All this requires sample return, covering large areas and detailed mapping and observation to get the Lunar stratigraphy right. So in the long run cheaper to send people. There's why we should go back.
« Last Edit: 10/19/2009 07:30 pm by agman25 »

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