It is a truism to say that the race to the Moon was never primarily about science. It was a political battle between superpowers, with ideology and economics at stake. Regardless of the motives, the US Apollo missions and the Soviet Union’s Luna programme did also result in plenty of new science and unprecedented technology breakthroughs. In addition, the era left many tantalizing questions about the Moon, which have grown more intriguing in recent years with data from unmanned missions.
Fast forward to 2019 and the race is back on. This time, there are more nations competing and the rise of commercial space players has diversified the field. But national pride, along with some big personal egos, are very much on the line once again. Fortunately, science and technology could stand to win as a result of this competition, with some of the key developments having been discussed at this year’s recent general assembly of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna.
Could we create a base on the Moon that could accommodate long stays and the possibility of a permanent human presence?
During a session on lunar science and upcoming lunar missions, delegates pondered questions such as how exactly the ...