Tuesday, December 05, 2006

to the moon, bitches!

NASA is planning on a permanent human base at the south pole of the moon. Why? It's sunny!
"Conditions at the south pole appear to be more moderate and safer," she said. The south pole is almost constantly bathed in light and would be an ideal place to set up solar-power collectors for an electrical system -- a precondition for achieving the kind of "living off the land" that NASA is aiming for.

Horowitz also said the polar sites are scientifically exciting because "we don't know as much about the lunar poles as we know about Mars." Officials said the area around the south pole has craters that probably hold volatile gases that could be collected for commercial purposes. Highest on the list of possible resources is helium-3, a form of the gas seldom found on Earth that could be well suited for nuclear power fuel.
Not every idea is a good one. Traveling to Mars is a likely death sentence for the first group of astronauts, for instance. It's a fun idea, I wish them all well; but, honestly, the tiniest problem and wham, they're completely SOL. It's just too goddamn far, for one thing. For another, they're going to have to find a crew of emotional mutants who can remain cheerful and cooperative while in close quarters for four years in a row, one way. As a former New Yorker, I think the odds of that are slim. What if they run out of coffee? Bedlam.

Look at what happened in Antarctica:
"Antarctic Life Proves Hard Even for Those Who Love Their Work"

... How boring is life in the Antarctic? People in one group wintering at the South Pole in the 1960s watched the film "Cat Ballou" 87 times. People in another, after tiring of the westerns, Disney features and pornographic films on hand, spliced the movies together into their own production and adopted a vocabulary based on their creation that was so strange that relief crews arriving in the spring could barely understand them.
-- Wall Street Journal, Dec. 10, 1985
Mars is out.

Traveling to the moon, on the other hand, our little lunar buddy just a skimpy 1.3 light-seconds away, is completely doable. Hell, we went there 40 years ago with computers less powerful than are in most cell phones today.

This is wonderful, superb, terrific news. It's not just me, a nerd who had a 10-foot-square map of the moon on his high-school bedroom, or who even now is rocking a nifty surfing/sailing watch that conspicuously shows the phase of the moon, who thinks that this is a good idea. Actual scientists think that this is a good idea!

Having arrays of telescopes on the dark side of the moon, with its lack of atmosphere and light pollution is a fantastic idea. (Of course, it's not always dark over there, Pink Floyd notwithstanding. One side of the moon constantly faces the earth, as its rotation slowed over the first billion years of its coexistence with the earth. A few billion years more, and the earth will also stop rotating, and one side will always face the moon.)

In summary, whee! This news makes me so happy. Also, you were probably hoping that I would link to a surreal play about moon bitches. Here ya go.

1 Comments:

Anonymous wrd said...

Where can we get a copy of the film that was spliced together in the Antarctic? I'll bring the popcorn.

Wednesday, 06 December, 2006  

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