Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why go back to the Moon?

Apollo barely scratched the surface: Charlie Duke samples the "disappointing" enigma of Stone Mountain, integral to the mysterious Descartes Formation, long-time landmark for earthbound observers. Despite its distinct, brightly unusual structure Stone Mountain turned out to be composed of more of the anorthosite known to be common everywhere else on the Moon, though the landing site chosen for Apollo 16, a Cayley basalt-filled basin between the equally famous North and South Ray craters, was an unnecessary attempt to link volcanic activity to lunar morphology, its mystery persisted.

Later, the most intense magnetic field detected on any of the Apollo missions was discovered to be the strongest on the Moon, from data collected by Lunar Prospector (1998-1999), and linked to surface brightness on the Mountain in a confounding way that may indicate the region is naturally shielded against solar radiation. The 'disappointment' following Apollo 16 did not persist, and the landing site is now ranked high among 50 high-priority sites for future manned exploration.

By Richard Hollingham BBC News

The Apollo Moon landings were a remarkable technical, scientific and political achievement and their 40th anniversary is undoubtedly a cause for celebration.

I've been privileged enough to interview seven of the men who walked on the Moon and I'm enjoying this Apollo nostalgia-fest as much as anyone.

One phrase though always sticks in my mind, and it came from the last man on the Moon, Gene Cernan. He asked: "When are we going back?"

Perhaps now, the more important question is: why are we going back?

Read the Article HERE.

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