LRO spots Apollo 12 footsteps

By Phil Plait | December 14, 2009 8:21 am

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has returned another incredible picture of an Apollo landing site, this time of our second manned walk on another world… and again, the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible!

LRO_apollo12

In November 1969, Apollo 12 touched down near the Surveyor 3 probe, which had soft-landed two years previously. The astronauts walked up to the lander and even brought back pieces of it! Surveyor is easily seen in this image, as well as the craters Pete Conrad and Al Bean investigated. In this high-resolution image (taken in September), you can even see their bootprints radiating away from their lander!

After the other Apollo images from LRO, I know this is more of the same. But don’t let it fall from your mind that these images show that once, not long ago, we dared to explore. For those few shining moments, we reached farther than our grasp, and managed to do something extraordinary. We let that slip away not too much later. Yes, our robots probe and peer into every corner of the solar system, and have done a magnificent job. But I am of the opinion that we need to send men and women out there as well, to extend the human presence beyond our own planet, beyond a simple low-Earth orbit.

I don’t know when we will exceed our grasp again. But I hope it’s soon.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Pretty pictures, Space
MORE ABOUT: Apollo 12, LRO

Comments (66)

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  1. Pulse on Techs » 3D Apollo! | Bad Astronomy | April 13, 2010
  1. Gary Ansorge

    Ah, dreams, the reason we explore. I had a dream,,,that one day we’d have nuclear powered space craft and industry on Luna and a chance for this species to spread life from one end of the solar system to another. Wish I could live a thousand years, just to see what we can accomplish.

    ,,,and to all those who say we have too many problems on earth to waste time/money exploring(like, when has that never been the case?), I have just one quote, from, again, Jerry Garcia:

    “A foolish heart will call on you to throw your dreams away, then turn around and blame you, for the way you went astray.”

    Yeah, ain’t that the way of things?

    Gary 7

  2. Derogatory “spam in a can” comment in 3.. 2.. 1…

    I have a compromise. Let’s figure out how to upload me into a computer so I can go into space without all that darned life support hassle.

  3. Stargazer

    Check out how close the Intrepid is to Surveyor 3. That’s some serious precision landing!

  4. It’s a trick! The evil Apollo conspiracy goes on.

  5. @Romeo Vitelli

    It was photoshopped. Robots made the tracks. Umm…soundstage!

  6. Carter

    Beautiful! Yet more evidence for the Moon-landing-hoaxers to feast their eyes upon. (“But, but but, it’s clearly photoshopped! Look at all the arrows on the picture!” Ha.) I agree that while robots are really good to have on other planets, we need to get actual people out there. A robot cannot replace a geologist like myself (hint hint, NASA) on Mars because they cannot think critically. Pictures and numbers beamed back from the red planet are not enough to make broad theories about the geologic history of a planet – I would argue that this is like reading a textbook about a type of rock and deducing the mechanisms of plate tectonics. You need the IMAX effect, if you will. A human can walk around and do what she or he desires to find the correlations between rock and earth (mars). And our poor little robots keep getting stuck. Alas.

    Well, at least NASA recently was allocated an extra 5% or so, bringing their budget proposed for next year to $18.7 billion! Woo and yay!

  7. Jim

    Great photo… and beautiful comments in the second and third paragraphs! I have taken the liberty of forwarding those words and a link to the blog to the Pres and my senators and representative, urging their support for manned space exploration.

  8. StevoR

    Awesome news and so impressive. 8)

    I’d like to see the first woman land on the Moon in my lifetime and also the first astronomer. These don’t *have* to be the same individual either! ;-)

    Most of all, I’d just like to see us (Humanity that is!) make some more advances and progress into space and the worlds beyond Earth; see us go further, fly higher and do & learn more. I sooo just want to see it happen!

    The recent unmanned test launch of the Ares & Branson’s new VSS Enterprise are both positive signs we may, at long blinkin’ last, be heading in the right direction again. IMHON.

    I’d like to see both public & private sectors working to get folks into space – like to see both robots and people & money spent on space accomplishments & technology and on saving the Earth in other ways, (eg,. poverty, disarmament, environment) too. I reject the zero-sum, either /or propositions made by some that we can only walk or chew gum rather than do both simultaneously.

    As Moon-walker as well as Mercury-7 astronaut Al Shepherd said :

    “Lets just light this candle!” (& keep it burning this time!) :-)

  9. It’s obviously faked – you can’t see any stars!

  10. Peter F

    That was the mission that brought back the contaminated Surveyor camera from the Moon, with Strep bacteria that had survived on the Moon and that continued to live after returning to Earth…

  11. rosebud

    That is so cool, Phil. Thanks for collecting this type of stuff for us!

  12. Harry Tuttle

    Wait a second… who’s HEAD did we leave on the moon!?

  13. JWB

    As a child, I was filled to the ears with wonder that we would some day, in my liftetime, see the beginning stages of our off-world explorations, that I’d live a life punctuated by news of men and women setting foot on far-off planets and asteroids.

    I am progressively sadder and more disillusioned with man with every day that passes, showing me how foolish those expectations were.

    And yet it seems to me that we might have been much further along by now, if only we’d put our full efforts and resources to the task.

    We’re going to need to get off this rock, and more and more, it’s looking like it might be sooner rather than later.

  14. I’m re-watching the Farscape TV series via Netflix/Roku. For those who don’t know about it, the basic premise is that John Crichton, a human from present-day Earth, gets shot through a wormhole to a distant galaxy with tons of alien life and where space travel is common. Anyway, in one episode, when presented with a strange phenomenon that the others (all aliens) have never seen before, he comments: “I haven’t heard of anything like anything happening before. My planet doesn’t even go to the moon anymore.”

    Instantly, I was ripped out of the episode (great though it was). There is so many amazing things out there and we can’t even get it together enough to go back to the moon. We’re like a kid at the edge of an ocean who gets his big toe wet and then runs back up on the sand lest his toes get damp again. I seriously hope that we go to the moon again (and possibly further) in my lifetime. I’d like to be alive for at least one moon landing.

  15. @StevoR,

    ‘I’d like to see the first woman land on the Moon in my lifetime and also the first astronomer.”

    I’d be satisfied with *SOMEONE* landing on the Moon in my lifetime. Last Moon landing was in 1972. I was born in 1975.

    On a related note, I wonder how a graph would look of distance from the Earth of the manned space trips taken over time. Though, it would probably be very depressing.

  16. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    Wow! This time I get the feeling that you should be able to match up footpaths with archival film. Wouldn’t that be a great promo/game set to move about in?!

    Next Q: When is the corresponding Mars game released? :-/

  17. Ralph Johnson

    Easy for us to dream, our bellies are full. But what about the millions of kids (and adults)who die each year from malnutrition on planet Earth? Don’t we have some business to attend to here first? Perhaps it is easy to turn away from the suffering, dreams are more comforting…

  18. Have any moon hoaxers come out and changed their minds yet?

  19. Erin K

    I’d like to see humans on the moon again because of the personal connection there–I feel more attached to Mars with the Mars Rovers trundling around than I do to the moon, and the moon is, comparatively speaking, right there. It’s hard enough to interest people in reading about, writing about, or supporting a topic even when they do have some interest in it, let alone when they don’t care at all.

  20. Greg in Austin

    Ralph Johnson said,

    “But what about the millions of kids (and adults)who die each year from malnutrition on planet Earth? Don’t we have some business to attend to here first?”

    Who said we’re NOT taking care of business here? Do we not have shelters for the homeless, food drives, clothing donations, free healthcare for the immigrants, etc? Do we NOT send tens- or hundreds-of-millions of dollars to other countries every time there’s a crisis? What MORE would you suggest we do?

    How does the exploration of our solar system take ANY food away from anyone?
    Better yet, how many improvements in YOUR life, and the lives of millions, has the space program made?

    8)

  21. @Ralph Johnson
    Oh please with the false dichotomy! Why make life sound like a choice between looking up and looking down? It’s easily possible to live life to the full, enjoying every moment, whilst supporting those less fortunate, it’s also possible to pursue human justice *and* space flight on both a governmental and personal level. I try to support myself, humanist charities and science outreach wherever I can with a limited income, it’s really not all that hard.

  22. Jason

    Ralph says:
    “Easy for us to dream, our bellies are full. But what about the millions of kids (and adults)who die each year from malnutrition on planet Earth? Don’t we have some business to attend to here first? Perhaps it is easy to turn away from the suffering, dreams are more comforting”

    Much of hte suffering and starvation is not due solely to famine conditions alone, but corrupt governments who freeze aid and demand bribes.

    My sister recently went to Guatemala as part of a Medical Mission trip with a lot of other doctors and nurses.
    The pastor of her church and lead doctor were help and the Antibiotics and equipment confiscated until they coughed up money to the customs agents and then local officials to allow them to setup a free clinic for people.

    In some african countries Food aid rots in wharehouses because the Aid agnecy cant afford the bribes to get the food through.

    Additionally… The cost of manned exploration, while Very expensive is a Small small percentage of the sums both private and Government that go to aid. Moving those sums to social programs would not significantly help

  23. Jason

    Oh, and on Topic! Those are some incredible pictures.

  24. @Ralph Johnson,

    How dare you suggest we should devote all our resources to fighting hunger! I think we should devote all our resources to fighting homelessness. Or maybe it was AIDS. Possibly mugging victims.

    Seriously, though, just because we want to fix Humanitarian Cause X doesn’t mean we can’t work on Scientific Cause Y or Exploration Cause Z. They aren’t mutually exclusive and the latter can sometimes help the former (through new technologies).

    In the case of world hunger, I’d imagine that lengthy space travel trips would require some technology to grow a decent amount of food in a small environment with little resources. If we could do that for a spaceship, we could adapt the technology for use here on Earth. (This is, of course, assuming we work past the whole “corruption stopping food shipments” thing.)

  25. @Ralph Johnson
    Sell your computer and give money to the poor, you hipocrite. Disgusting.

  26. The Other Ian

    @TechSkeptic,

    “Have any moon hoaxers come out and changed their minds yet?”

    Not that I know of, nor do I expect it. Since the LRO images are published by NASA, they’ll just claim the pictures are faked. When another space agency or company launches a probe that returns similar pictures, then the conspiracy theory will expand to include them. If the deniers ever get the chance to go to the moon and see the artifacts first-hand, then they’ll claim that NASA secretly put them there after the fact. That’s just the way conspiracy theories work.

    Besides which, the existence of the returned lunar rocks, the success of the Lunar Laser Ranging experiment, and the sheer ridiculousness of the scale of the cover-up are all much better evidence that we really did go to the moon. If they’re not convinced by those, then I don’t see why a few new images would make any difference.

  27. “I don’t know when we will exceed our grasp again. But I hope it’s soon.”

    As long as the current political climate holds sway it will be forever. The stars, a small price to pay for a really nice feeling about the planet, right?

  28. scottb

    I love these pictures but I think there is a big opportunity going to waste here. This is a perfect time to really push these pictures to the public along with comments and discussion from the moon walkers themselves. I may have missed it but I haven’t seen any astronaut comments on these photos at all. Those guys aren’t getting any younger and we should take advantage of that experience in continuing to popularize space exploration.

  29. ND

    One way ticket I say. One way ticket to the moon for the hoaxers!

    Of course they’ll claim it’s a CIA concocted drug induced hallucination.

  30. Big Al

    What was the “carbon footprint” of the old Saturn V? Didn’t all those trips to the moon hasten global warming along?

  31. Chet Twarog

    It’s obvious the USA NASA can’t get us back. It’ll have to be private/commercial enterprise, or China, or a cooperatve effort of USA/China/Soviets/Japan/ESA?
    Planetary Society recommends asteroid colonization, lagrange points, Mars’ asteroidal moons–colonize, capture, industrialize….
    It is estimated that a 1.6km nickel-iron asteroid is worth @ $3 trillion
    in metals–move it into NEO and smelt it with a solar furnance. How much more valuable if there are rare-earth elements in these?
    By the way, seems China is getting into rare-earths mining dominating the market necessary for “green energy” projects at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/paulmason/2009/11/rare_earth_the_new_great_game.html

  32. paradoctor

    I, for one, am fine with robots – for now. They’re relatively cheap; they don’t need air, water, food, gravity or radiation shielding; they can take one-way trips; and if something goes wrong then it’s not a national trauma. Also, robotic technology has Earthside applications, unlike space-suit technology.

    I say, send telepresence robots to the Moon; and send humans only after the robots have dug them shelter underground.

  33. I never knew Surveyor was that close to the landing site for 12… less than 200 meters, and look how both are soooo close to the rim of that well worn ‘Surveyor’ crater! Again, thanx Phil!

  34. Ralph,
    The problem of poverty is not a simple case of black and white: Poverty is the problem, therefore, we need to throw money at it to solve the problem.

    As some have pointed out in this thread, government corruption runs rampant in many impoverished nations. Most aid agencies realize, than in order to get aid to where it is needed, they have to deal with that corruption. We cannot simply throw money at the problem. It is an issue that needs to be dealt with politically, diplomatically, and most of all sensibly. Throwing money away is not the most sensible approach, since it has been proven that the majority of it does not end up where it’s needed. Nice try, but do your research before whining about the evils of scientific exploration.

    Speaking of which, we have no idea of what new technologies manned space exploration will yield yet. Anything from new propulsion systems, sources of energy to power our homes, medical research, and the list goes on. It may be, that some new technology developed may in fact lead to better methods of agriculture, water purification, cheap reliable energy production, and a multitude number of other technologies that will help eliminate poverty.

  35. Ahhh, I’ve daydreamed of visiting a space travel museum we are going to build near tranquility base one day.
    Thees photos are making me feel closer to the moon then ever.

    Caig

  36. Chet Twarog

    A follow on to my post: “Airship To Orbit: Cheap, Bulk, Safe Access to Space. It’s time to send out the fleet.” JP Aerospace at
    http://www.jpaerospace.com

  37. wright

    @ paradoctor,

    I believe Phil has said pretty much the same thing, that space exploration should use robots and humans in a complimentary fashion. I agree with both of you: it’s an entirely sensible way to get Out There, do science and establish a self-sustaining human presence in space.

  38. Ad Hominid

    @ Ralph Johnson
    Are you perhaps one of those people who believe that NASA gets something like 25% of the federal budget? If not, are you aware of the numbers at all? Produce some figures showing that the abandonment of spaceflight will contribute to an actual solution to the problem of hunger. Be sure to include the negative impact of higher unemployment and scientific stagnation while you’re at it.

    @Big Al
    One day of harping and other useless oxygen consumption by uninformed and thoughtless luddites will probably generate more CO2 than all ten Saturn V launches put together.

  39. Steve in Dublin

    @Naked Bunny #2

    I have a compromise. Let’s figure out how to upload me into a computer so I can go into space without all that darned life support hassle.

    Heh. The subject matter of one of my favourite novels: Host, by Peter James. In the end, it didn’t work out for the protagonist quite like he hoped it might…

  40. RWG

    The moon and all its territories are part of the centuries old palestinian homeland. All lunar settlements must stop. Manned exploration of outer space is an Israeli plot to deny true ownership of all land (uh I mean, uh uh uh.

  41. 38. Ad Hominid Says: “@ Ralph Johnson – Are you perhaps one of those people who believe that NASA gets something like 25% of the federal budget? If not, are you aware of the numbers at all? ”

    Just roughly, the NASA budget, even with the current proposed increases, is still less than 1% of the federal budget. Health and Human Services (the “welfare” department that’s supposed to “fix” all of these problems) is more than half of the federal budget all by itself. Put another way, they spend the equivalent of NASA’s budget twice every day!

    To be fair, HHS includes the Dept. of Education and all sorts of other large departments.

    - Jack

  42. 26. The Other Ian Says: “@TechSkeptic, ‘Have any moon hoaxers come out and changed their minds yet?’ Not that I know of, nor do I expect it. Since the LRO images are published by NASA, they’ll just claim the pictures are faked. ”

    ===========================

    Well, that’s what you’d expect, but I haven’t seen it. In fact, I haven’t seen any comments by MHB’s once we got past this exact scenario last July when the first LRO (low rez) images were released.

    This sort of confirms my theory that the Moon Hoax only works when you look at the Apollo program compressed through the lens of history. It’s easy to jam all of those events together and ignore the years of effort that unfolded a little at a time to those of us who lived through it. I came up with this idea after asking some MHB’s if the Shuttle and ISS were real. The answer was almost a universal “yes.” Since the LRO mission and its Apollo landing site images have been unfolding in a similar manner, they carry the same verisimilitude, thus are unarguably real. I can only imagine the kind of internal conflict this is causing in each of them.

    - Jack

  43. Copernic

    Yes, but they still haven’t explained the faked photos from the annual NASA organizational picnic. http://jgoodbody.blogspot.com/2009/12/area-man-attempt-at-onion-ish-humor_14.html

  44. T_U_T

    I came up with this idea after asking some MHB’s if the Shuttle and ISS were real. The answer was almost a universal “yes.”

    Wait just a few years after the last shuttle flight. Then ask again. I predict that the answer will be a resounding NO.

  45. Mark Hansen

    T_U_T, we already had a very strident NO about the ISS. Remember Neil? Unfortunately he probably isn’t the only one with… unusual ideas about the ISS.

  46. Messier TidyUpper

    @ 45. Mark Hansen Says:

    … Remember Neil?

    Sadly yes. How can we forget? :roll:

    Although he was *almost* entertaining in the “train wreck”, “how wrong-can one-man -possibly-be?” sorta way that trolls sometimes are.

  47. AJ

    Lovin’ the LRO pictures of the landing sites! I first heard of them here (thank you!) and now I use them on my iPhone during star parties when we have the moon up. Everyone is incredibly impressed and thinks it very cool we can now see all of that.

    Adrienne

  48. Hardcore MHB’s will probably not be swayed, although this puts another nail in the coffin. A multi-generational conspiracy? c’mon! NASA just funded and built the spacecraft. All the downlink work and the pictures are both done at Arizona State University by students and faculty.

    However “softcore” MHBs who weren’t “there” and may harbor doubts ( folks 35 and under), should be convinced. That’s satisfying. Hardcore MHBs have too much invested in a conspiracy theory, will do ANYTHING to continue their beliefs.

    Most MHBs believe we did not have the technology to land on the moon 40 years ago, but we had CGI and a huge vacuum soundstage capable of fooling everyone? In the 1960s?

    It’s fun to see just where they suspend their belief. “Do you believe we’ve been in space? Mars? Orbited the moon? Landed unmanned spacecraft on the moon? “(the Russians did!) You’ll get different answers.
    Kim

  49. Zucchi

    We’ve wasted almost a trillion dollars on our two ongoing military occupations. Imagine what we could do in space with that kind of funding.

  50. T.E.L.

    As it turns out, I’ve met a couple of people online within the last year who’ve changed their minds about the Apollo Hoax. They made their doubts known, they were presented rigorous counter-arguments, and they were graciously won over. Not all doubters are just cranks. Some are honest people whose only shortcoming is a paucity of knowledge. Share that knowledge with no strings attached, and they can learn.

  51. gdave

    @Jack Hagerty #41:

    For FY09, the total U.S. Federal Budget was around $3.1 trillion. The Department of Health and Human services had a budget of roughly $737 – far less than half the total federal budget. Of that, roughly $630 billion was for Medicare and Medicaid/SCHIP – health care, not food aid or direct poverty relief. NASA’s budget was roughly $18 billion – a lot smaller, but nothing near 1/730 (“they spend the equivalent of NASA’s budget twice every day!”). The 3rd largest item in the HHS budget is the National Institutes of Health, at roughly $29 billion, not normally considered a “welfare” program. The other $70 billion or so covers various other health, science, and welfare programs and institutions – including the FDA and the CDC – as well as administration. (All numbers from the Executive Office of the President of the United States website at gpoaccess.gov).

    HHS is NOT the ““welfare” department that’s supposed to “fix” all of these problems”. It is, well, the Department of Health and Human Services, and includes, as noted above, various public health and scientific research programs and institutions, as well as programs aimed at poverty relief. But “welfare” programs, providing food aid, direct poverty relief, educational benefits, housing assistance, and the like, are run out of a variety of departments, including Agriculture, Education, and Housing and Urban Development. Of course, that means the total “welfare” budget is larger than indicated by the HHS budget alone. Total food and nutrition assistance was roughly $62 billion, while total public assistance and related programs (most notably Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, and the Earned Income Tax Credit) was about $138 billion. That’s a total direct “welfare” spending of about $200 billion – a little more than ten times NASA’s budget, not twice NASA’s budget every day. (Again, all numbers from EOPOTUS).

    And HHS does NOT include “the Dept. of Education and all sorts of other large departments”. By definition, no federal department includes other federal departments. You may be thinking of the old Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), which was split into the separate Dept. of HHS and Dept. of Ed. in 1979.

    I agree that it is a false dichotomy to argue that NASA’s budget is taking food out of the mouths of the hungry. But, I don’t think we can assume that anyone making such an argument necessarily believes that NASA’s budget is larger than it is (an additional $18 billion of federal food aid would actually be a significant addition). And moreso, we need to make sure our own numbers are accurate.

  52. fred edison

    The skeptics and unbelievers included some within NASA, who saw before them the daunting and next to impossible task of landing men on the Moon. They soon shed their skepticism and became eternal believers in the ingenuity and dogged determination of humankind to achieve a unified goal, when Armstrong proudly and boldly stepped onto the Moon and ushered in a new era of space exploration. No one and no country can ever take that incredible and hard earned achievement from us.

  53. gdave – thank you for the updates. I admit that my information is out of date, and, yes, I was thinking of HEW. I was under the (obviously mistaken) impression that HEW had been incorporated into the larger HHS. Not the case. I’ll have to update the figures in my arguments.

    The case with NASA’s budget, though, is even more dire than I remember. Using your numbers, it’s budget is not just “less than 1%,” it’s barely 1/2 of 1%!

    - Jack

    PS – In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that one of my brothers is a section chief at FEMA in DC, so I am familiar with the various roles of the federal government. The next time he’s out, I’ll have to get an up-to-date briefing from him on the current federal org chart.

  54. Jean-Denis

    Phil (and others) say:

    “I am of the opinion that we need to send men and women out there as well, to extend the human presence beyond our own planet, beyond a simple low-Earth orbit.”

    There are several “cool” arguments to support that opinion. But is there any *rational* argument? As far as I can see, everything a human sent over there can do, a robot can do better and cheaper.

    I too find human exploration cool, but I’d be more comfortable supporting it if there was a rational justification too.

    Also, it seems to me this question is not a false dichotomy like the world hunger one. Unless you are of the opinion that “doing things the wrong (and costly) way is fine as long as we also do it the right (and cheaper) way”.

    (on a different topic what [didn't] happen a few weeks ago in Geneva for the international conference on world hunger is a shame to us all rich country citizens).

  55. Nigel Depledge

    OK, I haven’t yet read through all the comments, but I plan to pre-empt the naysayers (and I hope I’m not too late)…

    Phil, I think you let your enthusiasm run away with you a little bit. We can’t see individual footprints; instead, we can see the tracks of churned-up regolith where the astronauts walked between the various parts of their landing site.

    Also, coming back to the topic of exploration versus spending the money on other stuff…

    We are always doing stuff and building stuff that has no apparent “practical” value. Look at the Bugatti Veyron. It’s a 1000 hp road car that can do 252 mph. No-one needs that, and Bugatti lose about $5,000,000 for each one they sell (because its development cost was so huge). What purpose does it serve? Inspiration. It is a sign of what we humans can achieve.

    Similarly, look at Thrust SSC, current holder of the world land speed record. A supersonic car is of no practical use, and yet three teams are currently in the process of trying to build cars to not only break that record but to try to reach 1000 mph.

    Then look at the Apollo programme. It did achieve a huge chunk of good science, but its greater value was inspirational. It showed what we humans can achieve when we really get behind something and give it our all. I was 2 months old when Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert splashed down in their command module Odyssey. I had no part in the Apollo programme, and yet I’m proud of it.

    Sure, there are humanitarian causes on which we can spend out tax dollars (or pounds or euros) instead, but there is a limit to what money can do, as has been sorta pointed out by some other commenters already.

    If anyone really wants to complain about US government spending on wasteful projects, there’s an obvious first place to look that has about a hundred times (rough guesstimate) as big a slice of the pie as NASA. The US armed forces are the worlds largest, but has the USA ever been threatened with invasion by a foreign power? No, it has not. Some may say that this is because it has such a huge military budget, but that doesn’t wash. Other countries have retained their sovereignty with far smaller armies, navies and air forces (sometimes with assistance from the US, but as often without).

    Now, I’m not saying that I believe the US military forces should be disbanded, but I also believe that NASA should be given the resources to fulfil its mandate. However, for anyone who wants to complain that NASA is a waste of tax dollars, first start with the armed forces. If you can justify those budgets, then feel free to have a pop at NASA.

  56. Nigel Depledge

    Jean-Denis (54) said:

    As far as I can see, everything a human sent over there can do, a robot can do better and cheaper.

    Robots cannot improvise. Everything that a robot will do must be anticipated in advance.

    Here’s a simple example, from Apollo: The astronauts were trained to understand how a suite of rock samples from a site can represent all of the different phases and types of geological activity that have occurred at that site. Maybe one day, robots will be sufficiently sophisticated that they can do this, but at present they cannot.

  57. Nigel Depledge

    Big Al (30) said:

    What was the “carbon footprint” of the old Saturn V? Didn’t all those trips to the moon hasten global warming along?

    It depends on what you mean.

    If you refer to its own fuel consumption, only the S-IC (first) stage produced any CO2, as the second and third stages burned liquid hydrogen. However, that first stage contained just short of 2170 metric tonnes of fuel + liquid oxygen (sorry, but wikipedia doesn’t list the separate weights, and my Apollo 11 Haynes manual is at home). The fuel it burned was RP-1, which is (IIUC) mainly kerosene. So, this would represent a bit less than 2000 tonnes of CO2, which is a lot given that this stage only shifted the thing 42 miles up and 58 miles downrange (using Pythagoras, that’s a radial distance of just under 72 miles), but only 13 launches of the Saturn V were ever carried out.

  58. Nigel Depledge

    Ad Hominid (38) said:

    One day of harping and other useless oxygen consumption by uninformed and thoughtless luddites will probably generate more CO2 than all ten Saturn V launches put together.

    Erm … according to wikipedia, there were 13 Saturn V launches. Did you forget Skylab maybe?

  59. 35. Craig Sachs Says:

    Ahhh, I’ve daydreamed of visiting a space travel museum we are going to build near tranquility base one day.

    I think you should contact Kuhnigget about plans along those lines…..
    :)

    J/P=?

  60. 55. Nigel Depledge Says: “… anyone who wants to complain that NASA is a waste of tax dollars, first start with the armed forces. If you can justify those budgets, then feel free to have a pop at NASA.”

    What most people don’t understand is that a large percentage of the D0D budget (after the chastising by gdave, I’m a little gun-shy of saying “most” since I don’t have the current figures in front of me) goes into R&D. Much of this research (both basic, applied and manufacturing) eventually makes its way into the public sector. NASA in particular benefits from the military space program. The F1 engine used in the first stage of the Saturn V was originally an army missile project started in the late ’50s. Some of it, even the covert stuff, makes it into civilian use. Remember the early GPS units that had a dithering algorithm to downgrade their accuracy?

    The military, by nature, is not an efficient organization. They have to be ready at all times to conduct their mission. “Just in time” supply chains don’t work here. If they have a sudden need for a massive amount of materiel for a mission, they can’t start soliciting proposals. They have to be able to start loading it straight onto the transports without delay. This requires having, yes, wasteful amounts of just about everything sitting in warehouses ready to go.

    - Jack

  61. Nigel Depledge

    Jack Hagerty (60) said:

    a large percentage of the D0D budget (after the chastising by gdave, I’m a little gun-shy of saying “most” since I don’t have the current figures in front of me) goes into R&D. Much of this research (both basic, applied and manufacturing) eventually makes its way into the public sector. NASA in particular benefits from the military space program. The F1 engine used in the first stage of the Saturn V was originally an army missile project started in the late ’50s. Some of it, even the covert stuff, makes it into civilian use. Remember the early GPS units that had a dithering algorithm to downgrade their accuracy?

    You make a good point.

    I was unaware that the F1 engine had started as a military project.

    Some of the military R&D budget does indeed have benefits that are unforeseeable at the time the spend is approved.

    I was thinking more along the lines of a large standing army and many, many vehicles, ships and aircraft than I was along the R&D lines. I think my point still stands, but it is less compelling than before.

  62. Nigel Depledge

    Jack Hagerty (60) also said:

    They have to be ready at all times to conduct their mission.

    I agree with this in principal. In practice, of course, it all comes down to the definition of potential missions. What is the need to deploy a substantial military force anywhere outside your own sovereign territory? But that is a political dimension that I’d rather not enter into here, as it is completely off-topic.

  63. 61. Nigel Depledge Says: “I was thinking more along the lines of a large standing army and many, many vehicles, ships and aircraft than I was along the R&D lines.”

    That’s what most people think when you say “Defense Budget” and when we have an active war (like we do now) it is mostly true. But for the “regular” military budget, the development contracts are huge. They’re very expensive because they’re usually asking companies to do things that have never been done before, and sometimes require several attempts before something practical emerges (e.g. directed energy “ray guns”).

    - Jack

  64. 62. Nigel Depledge Says: “But that is a political dimension that I’d rather not enter into here, as it is completely off-topic.”

    Thank you. I’m sure your restraint is appreciated by the other readers, too.

    - Jack

  65. butch studley

    In response to TechSkeptic; Politicians kill more people than virus’s, toxic waste and lack of food. In fact, all of these problems have either been created from short-sighted pols and egomaniac leaders than any monies spent on space exploration.

    I know I’d love to fly me to the moon…

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