Monday, 28 December 2015
"Military bases? No. Quite apart from the treaty forbidding them, they would have no usefulness that was not grotesquely outweighed by the expense and trouble."
-Poul Anderson, The Infinite Voyage: Man's Future In Space (London, 1969), p. 76.
That rules out the Space Patrol bases in Robert Heinlein's Future History or the Lunar Guard in Anderson's Psychotechnic History. However, nuclear missiles could instead be placed in Earth orbit.
"Scientific research?" (ibid.)
Yes. Anderson argues that machines cannot cope with the unforeseen whereas the purpose of exploration is precisely to discover (un-cover) what was previously unknown. Machines might become more sophisticated or might be remotely controlled but for the latter there would be a time lag. The purposes of exploration are many but Anderson articulates one that I had not encountered before. Maybe:
wind carried germs into the upper atmosphere;
light pressure drove them into space;
a few landed on the Moon;
some were protected from radiation by falling into cracks or mingling with dust;
there could be several hundred per year for over a billion years;
thus, the Moon might hold clues to the origins of life;
indeed, the Moon itself might have retained enough air and water to generate primitive organisms;
also, complex, pre-biological matter might have originated in the dust cloud that condensed into the Solar System;
the Moon will have vacuum-preserved any such earlier matter that landed on it.
So let's get some scientists onto the Moon.