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Surprising Science

The Moon Could Be the First Stop on the Way to Mars

NASA is considering the moon as a kind of galactic pit stop for astronauts to refuel before they go to Mars.

Could the moon act as a kind of space-faring pit stop on the way to Mars? Samantha Larson from The Smithsonian writes that NASA has considered a quick stop to the moon as a possibility to make the mission to Mars an easier one.

One of the many issues stalling the one-way mission to Mars is the question of fuel. The amount required to get there is tremendous, so one possible solution would be to outfit the moon as a kind of galactic gas station.

The issue would be convincing politicians that the moon is a worthwhile enterprise. As President [Barack] Obama made it clear in a 2010 speech that the moon has been done, “I just have to say pretty bluntly here, we’ve been there before.” But William Gerstenmaier, the chief of human exploration at NASA, explained in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that the moon still has potential:

“If propellant was available from the moon, this could dramatically lower the mass needed from the Earth for a NASA Mars mission.”

What’s more, a pit stop on the moon could solve other problems regarding food and oxygen supplies.

Gerstenmaier said:

“We have seen and done several studies that look at Mars missions as a logistics and resupply problem. These studies show that resources from the moon could be extremely beneficial for Mars missions.”

Though, NASA may not have to convince the government to lead a moon mission. Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks that the “been there done that” missions may be better left to the private sectors to monetize and explore, leaving the unknown frontiers, like Mars, to government bodies:

Read more at The Smithsonian and the Houston Chronicle.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


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