By NATHAN FULK
On Friday, CNN covered a NASA report about the unforeseen presence of water on the lunar surface, which may bring extraterrestrial colonization out of the realm of science fiction. When we first landed on the moon in 1969, our perspective as a species changed forever; finally able to look down at our planet as an “other,” we could view the whole universe as a potential home. Billions of souls were rejuvenated with a pioneering spirit, the impossible achieved. We were finally given a glimpse into the final frontier, but in the thirty years hence, we haven’t gone back. It didn’t seem practical. It didn’t seem particularly useful, until now.
CNN reports that there may be up to one quart of water per ton of lunar soil, and that this water, though frozen and impure, may be congregated in impact craters. This water could potentially sustain life for lunar explorers, and even permanent settlers. But how important is water, anyway?
Well, water is the single substance required to sustain all forms of known life. Starting with water, and the building blocks thereof, astronauts can produce hydroponic crops. This would prevent the need to bring food and water with you to the moon, and make travel there more inexpensive and feasible. That gets us to the moon, and maybe permanently. Undoubtedly cool, but the moon isn’t brimming with fossil fuels. In fact, it seems to be pretty devoid of useful resources. So what’s the fuss?
I can only come up with one answer, but it’s a doozy: the lack of gravity. According to the Wikipedia article on the Moon, the gravity there is only 17 percent that of Earth. You don’t have to ask a scientist; the hardest part of trekking across space is getting the craft out of Earth’s atmosphere. This is why you have primary thrusters on shuttles that they dispose of once they are free. Not only do they have gravity to deal with, but the friction from our layered cushion of gasses.
On the moon, it would be MUCH easier to construct large, well-supplied spacecraft, which would only have to overcome their own inertia to get going towards whatever planetary body one chooses. It would be far less expensive then, to send a man, or a ship full of them, to Mars. With a launch pad on the Moon, we could go, well, anywhere! However, this is all conjecture on my part, and I am certainly not a scientist. What do you think about the feasibility of lunar colonization? Furthermore, do you think it could be worth it?