Ad Luna! Ad Ares! Ad Astra!
James W. Barnard
November 21, 2012
As my motto above suggests, our next human exploration target should be the Moon! I am a founding member of the Mars Society, as well as a member of the National Space Society AND the Planetary Society. First, I DO believe we should continue robotic probes of Mars, and the asteroids. But we do not know enough about the minimum long-duration gravity requirements for the health and safety of humans traveling to asteroids or Mars. The proposed Earth/Moon L2 station will NOT satisfy this requirement. The Moon IS a place where we can gain significant data points on this and other problems. In addition, the Moon can provide a base for all sorts of astronomical experiments that cannot be obtained in Earth orbit. Commerical potentials need to be explored by humans, as well. I am NOT talking about "colonization", but an Antarctic-type research station, providing a rapid return in the event of problems, as well as giving us the experience needed for human exploration further out. Neither the Moon, nor Mars, nor Titan nor the rest of the solar system is Humankind's "ultimate" objective. The stars are! I have watched and participated in our quest for the stars since early grade school, in the 1950's, and at the rate we are going, will probably not see humans land on Mars (I am 70), but I have hopes that one day, soon, I hope, humans will reach out once again beyond Earth orbit...to fulfill our destinies. /[paragraph text]
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.