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Phil Stooke
Am I completely out of it, or is there no GLXP thread on here? I couldn't find one. Anyway, things are moving on it, so I thought we ought to have one.

For the record, I just turned down my second invitation to join a team. I'm staying as an interested observer on this - for now, anyway.

There is a forum at the GLXP site as well as team info. There are a lot of people with half-baked ideas of how to go about it. The real professionals are not doing much on the forum, just working behind the scenes.

At LPSC two weeks ago, Bob Richards of Odyssey Moon invited people to propose instruments to carry on their rover - targeted to a pyroclastic deposit, probably Rima Bode or Sulpicius Gallus. And I see they have now signed an agreement to carry Celestis's lunar burials to the Moon. Richards will be here next week, and I'll be spending some time with him.

This whole thing is going to be interesting.

Phil
djellison
I remember discussing it - but it must have been elsewhere.

I'm really looking forward to the creativity that comes out of this. However, the Google cash isn't enough, imho, to do the mission in full. As a result, there needs to be some commercial return (not insignificant commercial return) and I don't know where that will come from or what it will mean for the science that may or may not get done.

With the Ansari X-Prize, there was a world of commercial sub-orbital lobs to tap into, with a lot of people prepared to pay a lot of money. I'm not sure there's money to be made in small scale lunar rovers ( unless ESA/NASA/JAXA start paying people to do them - and the spending of too much governmental money outside of the nations in question isn't going to go down too well ).

And - can anyone figure out a way to get to the surface with just a Falcon 1 sized LEO payload?

Doug
ugordan
QUOTE (Phil Stooke @ Mar 28 2008, 09:53 PM) *
Am I completely out of it, or is there no GLXP thread on here? I couldn't find one.

Is it this one?
Phil Stooke
I've been thinking about the Google Lunar X Prize in the context of protecting historic sites. Transorbital, Inc. had to guarantee its end-of-mission impact (for the Trailblazer orbiter) would not harm old sites, as a condition of getting government licenses to fly the mission. GLXP specifically encourages people to land close to and visit old sites. Are these incompatible?

I have made this map of the Apollo 17 site to suggest otherwise. A rover could land in one of two relatively smooth areas near the LM and drive to within a few tens of meters of the LM (and the ALSEP just to its west) without even crossing old LRV tracks and footprints. A very accurate landing system could find landing sites just SW or N of the LM and be within the GLXP minimum traverse distance of 500 m as well.

I argue that most or all teams will need sponsorships and potential sponsors will not want the bad publicity that would come from and damage to the sites - purists might interpret that as including driving over old footprints.

Phil

Click to view attachment
Stu
Excellent post, and excellent work Phil. Preserving the historic nature and integrity of the Apollo landing sites really is something I feel strongly about, and is something that the Google people will need to sort out before hardware starts landing. I've been emailing them about it already, and although they do appreciate it is an "issue", there's a long way to go yet.

Some people might think it would be no big deal if Apollo footprints and rover tracks were disturbed by Google rovers. I disagree. These are important and historic sites, and need to be preserved for as long as possible. There will almost certainly come a day when these landing sites are visited, for genuine and scientifically sound reasons (to see how material there has been affected by long exposure to the lunar environment perhaps?), but those visits should be made by people, not robots. The only visitors allowed near to these "Apollo Heritage" sites should be trained professional astronauts who are fully aware of the significance of the sites and the hardware at them, who will make every effort to respect the sites and do as little damage to them as possible. I honestly shudder at the thought of little rovers scudding and scuffing around in the shadows of the lunar landers, obliterating the astronauts' footprints and kicking up dust everywhere.

And if that sounds a bit "rock huggy" and sentimental, or over-romantic, then fine, hands up, guilty as charged, because I seriously believe that a thousand years from now, when there are people living on Mars, Enceladus, Europa, Titan and planets orbiting other stars too perhaps, those people will look back at us, through the wrong end of the telescope of time, and will either praise us for preserving and protecting some of the most significant and - I hesitate to use the word, but I will - sacred sites in human history, or think us pitiful for allowing them to be ruined.

Betelgeuze
Also the moon is so big, why land on a place weve already seen while there are so many exciting things we haven't seen yet?!
climber
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 11 2008, 11:11 PM) *
Also the moon is so big, why land on a place weve already seen while there are so many exciting things we haven't seen yet?!

Because it's there...
Betelgeuze
Not sure I understand what you mean with that.

Whats there?
djellison
There's the whole of antarctica to visit - so why do so many like to visit Shackletons hut.

Why does anyone go to see the Bell X1, why take pictures of the empty lander from MER like the Lion King pan, why visit the Apollo landing sites...

It's a place of ultimate historical significance.

Or - to flip your argument - when there's so much of the moon to choose, why not choose the site the public will be most interested in from a revenue generating perspective.

Doug
ElkGroveDan
It kind of makes you wonder how in the future such sites might be protected and at the same time be available for people to experience the history and the wonder of it all. I'm guessing some kind of acrylic dome structure surrounding the site where people might be able to walk across a transparent floor 10 or 20 feet above it all.

But who knows what technology will bring in the next fifty or a hundred years?
Phil Stooke
An even better reason than 'because it's there' - because GLXP will pay several million bucks extra if you do.

Phil
stevesliva
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 11 2008, 07:17 PM) *
Not sure I understand what you mean with that.

Whats there?

Given the name "climber" I'd assume that he was quoting George Mallory's justification for climbing Mt. Everest. rolleyes.gif
Stu
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 11 2008, 10:11 PM) *
Also the moon is so big, why land on a place weve already seen while there are so many exciting things we haven't seen yet?!


Because somewhere in our DNA there's an urge to see places, people and things that we have heard about, been affected by, and attribute significance to. That's why we have museums like the Smithsonian and Natural History Museum; that's why we have "Pioneer Cabins" to look around; that's why we will drive hundreds or thousands of miles to see sections of Hadrian's Wall, the Oregon Trail tracks, or abandoned launch sites at KSC; that's why we go to art galleries to see famous paintings in person instead of just looking at them on t'internet. Looking at - better still, touching - something "famous" we've heard about makes it more real to us somehow, connects us to it and our own past, too.

I think this was beautifully shown in the Star Trek film FIRST CONTACT, when Picard and Data find the very first warp drive starship, the Phoenix, in Zeffram Cochrane's missile silo. To Data, lacking emotion, lacking a sense of history or occasion, it's just a spacecraft from his databanks... but to Picard, it's THE PHOENIX, the FIRST STARSHIP, the one that opened up the Galaxy to mankind and altered the course of history.

[Picard puts his hand on the Phoenix]

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: It's a boyhood fantasy... I must have seen this ship hundreds of times in the Smithsonian but I was
never able to touch it.

Lieutenant Commander Data: Sir, does tactile contact alter your perception of the Phoenix?

Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Oh, yes! For humans, touch can connect you to an object in a very personal way, make it seem more real.


I know that's just a movie, and it's a fantasy story, but it rings so true, doesn't it? Well, maybe not for everyone here, but for most, I'm sure. I'm certain many people here have visited the Smithsonian or other museums to see hardware from past space missions, because they want to see those pieces of history with their own eyes, and not just on pictures. I'm also sure many people here have waited (im)patiently in their gardens or on their doorsteps to watch the ISS going over on a clear night. Why bother, when the net is full of hi-res pics taken during shuttle missions? Because you can't beat seeing something with your own eyes and establishing a connection with it.

Which is why people want to see images of Apollo hardware now, and will go there to see it in person one day in the future, from a distance, under diamond sheeting, or whatever. Not just to wreck once and for all the arguments of the Moon Conspiracy nutters, but because that will link us to it personally. Right now, Apollo is almost considered "ancient history" by many people, especially kids who - rightly, I think, given the current state of manned space exploration - have a hard time believing we actually went to the Moon in those days of black and white television and funny haircuts. Check out the "Space Exploration" section on Amazon and you'll see one Apollo book after another, page after page of them. It's history, right there with the Victorian Era, Egyptians and Knights and Castles.

So, yes, you're right, there's a lot more of the Moon to see than the Apollo landing sites. I can imagine standing in the shadow of the Straight Wall and watching blazing sunlight slide down it as dawn breaks, or gazing across Copernicus crater from its rim, marvelling at the mountains looming up from its centre... but the Apollo 11 landing site is unique in the history of mankind as being the place where human beings first set foot on another world. In the future there'll be similar "First Landing" sites on Mars, Europa, Proxima Centauri B1 or whatever, and a thousand other worlds, but there'll only ever be one "Tranquility Base". Who wouldn't want to see the footprints of the first human being in history to walk on another planet?

smile.gif
nprev
QUOTE (Stu @ Apr 12 2008, 12:28 AM) *
In the future there'll be similar "First Landing" sites on Mars, Europa, Proxima Centauri B1 or whatever, and a thousand other worlds, but there'll only ever be one "Tranquility Base". Who wouldn't want to see the footprints of the first human being in history to walk on another planet?


Terrific, very moving post, Stu!

Yeah, I'm more than convinced that nothing & nobody should go near at least the Apollo 11 site--and maybe all the landing sites--except historians and preservationists to set up a proper viewing environment as EGD proposed. These places have the same significance as the unknown locales where our distant ancestors first set foot on the other continents of Earth beyond Africa.

Actually, even more: Neil Armstrong's first step is at the same level as the first step (or drag, or hop, or whatever) of the first ocean creature to venture onto land. It's damn hard to overstate the importance of preserving it.
imipak
QUOTE (nprev @ Apr 12 2008, 01:13 PM) *
Neil Armstrong's first step is at the same level as the first step (or drag, or hop, or whatever) of the first ocean creature to venture onto land.


I humbly submit that ~500m years gives us a lot of perspective about the significance of animal life leaving the oceans - a lot more than 35 or 40 years gives us on Apollo. In another half a billion years posterity, if there is one, will doubtless thank us for leaving the landing sites as they were when the ascent modules lifted off.

Referring back to Doug's earlier comment about the funds needed for a successful mission being more than the prize money: what options are there for raising additional commercial funding for a GLXP project?

- Planetary Society-style "fly your name to the moon"
- Kaguya-style sponsorship, funded by subscription access to video eye-candy
- straightforward "picture of your corporate logo on the lunar surface" sponsorship

Anyone know any other possibilities? These don't look like they could raise 7 or 8 figure sums sad.gif
Betelgeuze
1969 Is not that long ago (heh and I'm only 21), I can understand if the next generations find this place interesting to revisit but this is hardly history. We have pictures and movies of the first steps on the moon, whatís a robot going to show us that those existing movies and pictures don't show already?! The place still looks exactly the same as it did 50 years ago, and you'll get exactly the same pictures as we did 50 years ago, the only difference is that they are taken by a robot instead of a human.
I agree thatís its a very important 'historic' place and Iím sure people would want to revisit it in the future, but whatís the point of revisiting it so early? Itís the only historic place that will stay the same for ages; I want to see something new now that we finally return!
We've been waiting more than 50 year for the next moon landing and we are aiming for the exact same spot to see the exact same things? How crazy is that?

Tbh I would be a lot more excited to see some never before seen landscapes; mountains, gigantic craters, strange rock formations, ice(?!),...


QUOTE
That's why we have museums like the Smithsonian and Natural History Museum

Exactly my point; if I want to see some human history I go to a museum or just look around me. If we go to the moon with a million dollar robotic mission I want to see something new, something 'non-human'.
We go to an unexplored alien world to look for 'human remains', oh the irony...

Phil Stooke
I think this is missing the point. Look at Astrobotic's plan; land near Apollo 11 and look at it (there are other things they could look at in the area too - Surveyor 5, Ranger 8) - then drive 300 km to Apollo 16 and look at that. There is lots of new territory along the way to look at in addition to the historic sites. That's why rovers are part of it.

As for the business to support future flights, a big one is just data. Instead of NASA flying landers and rovers, they fly their instruments (maybe as Discovery Missions of Opportunity) on a commercial lunar service. This is Odyssey Moon's business plan, with commercial add-ons like Celestis as well, but a minor component. The Discovery MOO guidelines have, I understand, just been adapted to allow MOOs on commercial missions.

Phil
mcaplinger
QUOTE (imipak @ Apr 12 2008, 06:41 AM) *
Anyone know any other possibilities? These don't look like they could raise 7 or 8 figure sums sad.gif

If there is any possible way to make money winning the Google Lunar X Prize, I can't think of it. Then again, I didn't get rich in the dotcom boom, either.

Where's D.D. Harriman when you need him?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D._D._Harriman
Phil Stooke
It's not about making money - nor was the Ansari X Prize. It's just a subsidy, from that point of view. But also, by bringing in big names, it attracts publicity which makes sponsorships or other deals more feasible.

Phil
Stu
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 12 2008, 04:36 PM) *
1969 Is not that long ago (heh and I'm only 21), I can understand if the next generations find this place interesting to revisit but this is hardly history.


Trust me, to an 8 year old kid, Apollo is ANCIENT history! wink.gif And they're the guys we've got to inspire and excite and find a way to consider entering technology and engineering as careers if we're to leave footprints on any other body in the solar system before the next ice age, or send sample return missions to Mars, balloons to Titan and drills to Europa...
Betelgeuze
If pictures and movies from 1969 don't inspire them I'm not sure how new pictures of the same thing are going to inspire them instead. Hell, I don't think 8 year olds will be very excited about a robotic mission to the moon, knowing that humans did it 50 years ago.(that's actually depressing unsure.gif)
mcaplinger
QUOTE (Phil Stooke @ Apr 12 2008, 01:23 PM) *
It's not about making money - nor was the Ansari X Prize.

Sure, but you could argue that the suborbital tourism market was something that might make financial sense. It's far less clear to me that there is any source of revenue that could make commercial lunar missions on the scale of the GLXP worthwhile: the NASA data buy idea has been discussed in many contexts over the years and hasn't gone anywhere in any of them that I can think of.

As the saying goes, "the best way to make a small fortune in aerospace is to start with a big fortune."

But as noted, I could be wrong smile.gif
Greg Hullender
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 12 2008, 03:47 PM) *
I don't think 8 year olds will be very excited about a robotic mission to the moon, knowing that humans did it 50 years ago.


Kids definitely won't be excited if they perceive that the adults around them seem more interested in preserving the old stuff on the moon than they are in discovering new things there. Or even building things there.

--Greg
Stu
QUOTE (Greg Hullender @ Apr 13 2008, 01:10 AM) *
Kids definitely won't be excited if they perceive that the adults around them seem more interested in preserving the old stuff on the moon than they are in discovering new things there. Or even building things there.

--Greg


I have to respectfully disagree, based on 30 years' front-of-classroom experience Greg. Many of the kids I've talked to in that time have been fascinated by the idea of "Museums on the Moon" because they're familiar with the concept and aim of preserving the past so it can be used as a reference. They're dragged around - sorry, taken to smile.gif - museums quite often on school trips, so they know that it is generally felt important in society to ensure that "old things" of significance are preserved and protected. Surely, when we go to so much effort to preserve Roman pots, Greek coins and Egyptian mummies, wrecking an Apollo landing site would send out a message to kids that it wasn't such an important place, or event, after all..?

Besides, this isn't about preservation at the expense of exploration. No-one is suggesting for a moment that the Moon shouldn't be explored or built on; we're just saying that in the particular case of these rovers, they shouldn't be allowed to disturb, more than absolutely necessary, the Apollo landing sites, which are scientifically, historically and culturally significant. Think of it this way: if someone suggested to you removing all the barriers and guard rails in the Smithsonian to allow people to run their grubby, scratching hands all over the Kitty Hawk Flyer, and ice-cream and Coke-stained kids to climb over and into the Eagle capsule, would that be acceptable? No. There'd be absolute hell on if anyone suggested that. So I can't imagine why anyone would be happy to sit back and see the Apollo landing sites ruined either.

As others have pointed out there's a whole lotta Moon to explore - and build on - and I'm sure the vast majority of people here are in favour of lunar exploration and exploitation as soon as possible. But that exploration doesn't have to mean the desecration of the past.

I think the Google rovers project is a fantastic idea, with the potential to inspire a lot of kids, and I've already been in touch with one team about how I can incorporate their plans in my Outreach work to inspire kids about lunar exploration in particular and space exploration in general. But personally I'd be gutted if any of the rovers were allowed to tear around an Apollo landing site like the General Lee. There's no scientific benefit to be gained from that, not with the high-magnification, high-definition cameras available today. Here's my idea: land nearby, drive a bit closer, take your pictures of the LEM descent stage and rovers and flags from a respectable distance, get a killer front page shot of Earth shining above an Apollo landing site, then go look at new stuff, show us exciting landscapes and scenes we haven't seen before. It's not rocket science. Oh, okay, it is rocket science, but it's common sense too... smile.gif
Stu
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 12 2008, 11:47 PM) *
If pictures and movies from 1969 don't inspire them I'm not sure how new pictures of the same thing are going to inspire them instead. Hell, I don't think 8 year olds will be very excited about a robotic mission to the moon, knowing that humans did it 50 years ago.(that's actually depressing unsure.gif)


You'd be surprised. The difference is it's something we ARE doing now, not something that happened before they were born, when the world was a funny place with funny-looking cars, all the men wore white shirts and ties and the women wore horn-rimmed glasses and kids rolled hoops down the road with sticks and raced twigs down rivers... wink.gif

Seriously tho, I have been discussing future lunar exploration plans with kids in schools and they - some of them at least, I'm not claiming all - are fascinated by the idea of people going back to the Moon and exploring Mars one day, but they're also interested in rovers, on the Moon or Mars, because basically they're gadgets, and gadgets are cool. The kids have their own robots at home and school, and are familiar with the concepts of remote control and navigation in a way we weren't when we were at school. They know all about webcams, and satellites, and know that putting all those things together could allow us to "roam" the Moon remotely as if we were there, but without having to go there in person... and THAT'S the depressing thing, because kids today don't seem to have that adventurous streak. They're growing up in a cotton-wool wrapped, politically-correct, risk-avoiding environment where Health and Safety rules everything and it's not allowed to climb trees, stride across rivers or even, believe it or not, play Conkers or throw snowballs at breaktime. They have no modern explorer heroes to look up to or follow in the footsteps of. Modern astronauts come across to an 8 year old as glorified truck drivers or construction engineers. They don't GO anywhere.

So, my tack on this is to tell them that while the eventual aim is to send people back to the Moon, and on to Mars, that wil, and can, only happen, once we've studied their potential homes robotically, and made sure that those environments are reasonably safe to reach and live in. They accept that, I've found. But the unpalatable truth is we are ANOTHER generation away from sending people to Mars, and a good decade away from sending people back to the Moon, so today's kids are in a kind of limbo between two epic programs. But at least they will get to see the things shown on the fancy NASA CGI animations actually happen, unlike many of us here I fear... but that's a discussion for another place and time, I know.
Betelgeuze
I've never been in front of a classroom talking about space exploration, but Iím not sure I can agree with all the things you say. I honestly canít believe kids are more excited about robotic mission than human missions. If thatís so, why arenít the 2 mars rovers doing their trick? I remember seeing studies that showed that kids are far less interested in space-related things now. If itís correct what you say, we should be seeing the opposite now because we have never had so many great robotic missions at the same time.
I can understand your point about kids being familiar and more excited about robots that before, they are after all becoming part of our lives but still...
Media is also very important for kids nowadays; they have TV, movies and games. Sc-fi is an important theme and most of the time itís about 'humans' exploring the universe, if robots show up they are most of the time the 'evil' guys (Matrix, BSG, terminator,...). Iím not sure kids like the fact that robots will replace humans when it comes to space exploration.

Kids who are really interested in space probably have seen a lot of pictures from the Apollo missions. For me (and for those kids) it would be the first moon landing during my lifetime and I would be very disappointed to see the exact same things Iíve seen on all those pictures and movies from 1969.
So IMO kids who are interested in space will be disappointed, kids who are not interested in space just don't care; its a far-from-bed show 'with robots exploring a world far far away where people once walked but never returned'....
djellison
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 13 2008, 12:18 PM) *
I honestly canít believe kids are more excited about robotic mission than human missions. I


Why does it have to be one or the other? They might, just maybe, be excited about both. My experience matches Stu.

You keep saying it's the 'same imagery' from the Apollo Era. It really really isn't. We're now talking HDTV colour movies from the surface of the moon ( never seen before ) and surface imagery of an abandoned Apollo site ( never seen before ).

And there's the bits of the moon between landing sites that we've never seen before in any way.

Also - there is the scientific bonus of visiting those sites that have a ground truth for calibration.

Doug
ugordan
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 13 2008, 01:18 PM) *
For me (and for those kids) it would be the first moon landing during my lifetime and I would be very disappointed to see the exact same things I’ve seen on all those pictures and movies from 1969.

I, on the other hand, would be thrilled by the fact this kind of event happened during my time, even if it were an exact copy of the Apollo landings back then. This would be something I could relate to and say I lived through. It wouldn't be an event from the history books anymore. You can grasp the fact those old landings did take place from school books, but emotionally (and this is what probably matters in inspiring future generations), seeing something like that happen live is something completely different. I don't think we should underestimate the impact that fact alone would make.

This is the sort of thing that makes Pathfinder and the MERs, Cassini/Huygens, etc. much more real to me than Voyagers and Vikings were, even if they were the ones actually pushing the ultimate frontiers.
Stu
QUOTE (Betelgeuze @ Apr 13 2008, 12:18 PM) *
I've never been in front of a classroom talking about space exploration, but Iím not sure I can agree with all the things you say. I honestly canít believe kids are more excited about robotic mission than human missions.


I think we're actually on the same side here, because if you please read my post again, I didn't say they were smile.gif I said they were excited about robotic missions because they can identify with the technology. They're just as fascinated by manned missions, but when, being honest, I tell them that they are a long way off it brings home to them that, for the moment at least, robots are the only show in town. Sad, but true.

I have never, ever, in any of my talks told kids that robots have replaced, or will replace, humans. Human space exploration always has been and will remain my passion. So I take great care to put robots in the right context - i.e. we don't know enough about the long term effects of space exploration on the human body or psyche, and don't have the right "kit", to allow us to fire people off to the Moon again or Mars yet, but those things will come, and when we do boy will we see some great sights! But let's be honest: men and women ain't going to be landing on the rolled edge of Shackleton crater until the whole place has been thoroughly mapped by rovers and landers. There's no point telling kids - or anyone - otherwise.

The Lunar Google rovers could - if handled properly, and operated with dignity and respect - be the catalyst for a revival of interest in "space" amongst kids, as long as we make it clear that they are precursors to manned expeditions, not substitutes for them. There's a lot of scientific potential with them - studies of rocks and minerals - as well as the potential for great Outreach imagery too. I worry that there'll be too much emphasis placed on imaging Apollo sites simply because of the financial rewards such images could bring. As you rightly say, there's a lot more Moon to see up there! If the goal simply becomes Land, Take Apollo Hardware Picture, Count the Money, well, the whole thing will be a waste of time. But if Google Rovers do more, if they take amazing images of other sites, if they return useful scientific data, if they flood the media with lunar images, then they really could make a difference. I'm looking forward to "using" them in my talks, but never, ever, will I prioritise wheels and tracks over boots and gloves, no matter how much I adore Spirit and Oppy.

Hmmm, we're getting a bit off track here I think; this started off as a discussion about the merits of preserving Apollo landing sites and seems to have morphed into an old faithful robots vs humans discussion. Easily done, but I apologise if it was my fault.
Greg Hullender
QUOTE (Stu @ Apr 12 2008, 11:07 PM) *
I have to respectfully disagree, based on 30 years' front-of-classroom experience Greg. Many of the kids I've talked to in that time have been fascinated by the idea of "Museums on the Moon" because they're familiar with the concept and aim of preserving the past so it can be used as a reference.

This is a place where I'd expect to see a big difference between British and US school kids, though -- and not just because you have more interesting museums, having 10x as much history to put in them. :-)

--Greg
djellison
If you want to have a slap fight about education - do so elsewhere.

D
JRehling
QUOTE (mcaplinger @ Apr 12 2008, 11:05 AM) *
If there is any possible way to make money winning the Google Lunar X Prize, I can't think of it.


It just cuts your losses. Or if you had some separate way of monetizing the mission (crazy ad scheme), of putting you over the line from red to black.

Incidentally, the futures market at Intrade.com gives about a 24% probability that anyone will actually claim the X Prize (by 2012). The total amount of money bet so far is modest, so it's not like the world has really weighed in on the matter, but it's an interesting benchmark.

The only other space exploration issue that I ever saw on Intrade was posted after Spirit landed, and it concerned whether or not Opportunity would land safely (able to return at least one image). It got an estimate of 66% probability from the market. Probably about right.

And there we have the one truly credible way to make money off of space exploration -- bet on (or against) it.
JRehling
QUOTE (Stu @ Apr 12 2008, 12:32 PM) *
And they're the guys we've got to inspire and excite and find a way to consider entering technology and engineering as careers if we're to leave footprints on any other body in the solar system


I think the issue there is on the demand side much, much, much more than the supply side. 50,000 engineers without megafunding won't launch a Mars mission. And the people who ran Apollo didn't start their careers inspired by any massive project (by Lindbergh, perhaps).

I'm not sure inspiration is a good return-on-investment. Two people went to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean in 1960. No one has been back since. Moreover, I have never met a human being in any field who is even aware of the details of that descent, much less bought a book about it. Essentially no one's ever heard of it. Why didn't that event inspire anyone?

I'd warrant that inspiration per dollar gets a better yield from a modestly expensive accomplishment and brilliant marketing than from a colossally expensive accomplishment and just sitting back to rake in the laurels. Presumably what we're trying to inspire is accomplishment per young, prospective engineer, not federal budget fund-raising per young, prospective engineer.
Greg Hullender
QUOTE (JRehling @ Apr 14 2008, 08:41 PM) *
Moreover, I have never met a human being in any field who is even aware of the details of that descent, much less bought a book about it. Essentially no one's ever heard of it. Why didn't that event inspire anyone?

I sure remember reading the story of the Trieste as a kid. I think the image of the two men sealed in the steel capsule as "two mice in a tennis ball" really freaked me out. What other details do I remember (without looking it up).

The Trieste was a bathyscathe (unsure on spelling). A spherical steel capsule suspended under a large tank of gasoline. To sink, they let gas out and water in. To rise, they dropped a load of iron shot they had carried.

Challenger Deep, their destination, is at the bottom of the Marianas Trench near the Phillipines. Roughly seven miles deep.

I think the thing had lights under the capsule, but I'm not sure how they were powered. Batteries, probably.

The viewport (I think there was only one) was super thick glass, and it cracked during the descent but didn't leak in any material way -- which would have been fatal, of course.

The two explorers reported nothing particularly interesting, which is why no one ever went back. That's not to say there's nothing interesting in the abyss, but previous explorers (e.g. William Beebe in a Bathysphere) had already reported on it.

That's all I can remember about it. The claustrophobic aspect was more than enough to convince me *I* never wanted to do it. But I'd have loved to read more about it.

And I'd have been 100% satisfied if the data came from unmanned probes.

--Greg
Phil Stooke
I've made a map showing the various places on the Moon indicated in public statements as potential landing sites for the GLXP teams. Teams not named on the map have not announced a site yet. There should be more news after the Team Summit at ISU later this month.

Phil

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NOT liking the "Tranquility Trek", Astrobotic, or Frednet ideas at first glance for reasons previously stated in this thread mad.gif ; here are the Apollo sites. Looks uncomfortably close.

Might be time to petition for a ground rule: hands off Apollo 11. I honestly don't have a problem with visiting the other Apollo sites, but Tranquility Base is sacrosanct as an integral, known transition point for the very history of life on Earth, and they would be doing a grave disservice to all of our descendants by disturbing it.
Phil Stooke
The disturbance issue is going to be big, and I'll be presenting on it at Ames in July. (well, if they accept my abstract). I think it very likely that they will land safely nearby and drive to within 10 or 20 m - to get a good view but without disturbing anything. I would (will) argue the same for all Apollo and robotic sites, in fact, but Apollo 11 is even more important. There is a proposal in place to have it designated a US National Historic Landmark:

http://www.space.com/news/spacehistory/sav...nts_000418.html

and see also:

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1988LPICo.652..234S
(I would now go for smaller parks!)

But I don't think this should preclude respectful observation and imaging of the site.

Phil
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Glad to hear this, Phil. One other constraint must be brought up (which you've probably thought of already, but haven't read your links yet): the rover's landing ellipse can't contain Tranquility Base. I just had this nightmare vision of the thing landing right on top of the descent stage, or the flag, or cocked against the landing leg with the ladder and obliterating Armstrong's first footprint...
Phil Stooke
The landing ellipse issue is very important, and I have to say most people involved in GLXP (I really mean the participants on their forum, rather than official teams) haven't thought any of this through, assuming instead that they can land on a dime (assuming they can find one on the Moon). Astrobotic are on the ball, with partners Raytheon - and Odyssey Moon are too - I'm being critical of the others when I say that.

Phil
nprev
Well, I'd concede that the lack of atmosphere contributes favorably to targeting accuracy, but also have to assume that most of the proposals will be direct landings (no insertion into lunar orbit beforehand) for cost savings. I'd go for a 500m clearance guarantee, and if they land too far away to reach the site, well, them's the breaks; even if it crashes in, the damage to the site should be minimal, if any.
tedstryk
I would agree that I would hate to see an x-prize lander go splat onto the Apollo 11 site. However, in the longterm, I strongly disagree with totally avoiding the sites. I think a better solution, should human moon travel become a regular thing, would be to have a restricted path - perhaps marked out by a rover's tracks, carefully targeted to not cross over anything - through which one can pass. I don't see any point in preserving the sites if no one can see them.
Stu
Here's an idea: you disturb ANYTHING at Tranquility Base within 50m of Eagle, you're instantly disqualified. Simple.

It wouldn't be acceptable to go pull pieces off Scott's Antarctic hut, would it? Or hack a piece out of the Liberty Bell? Or spray paint a message on the side of what's left of the Titanic? Or stomp all over those preserved human footprints in Africa?

This needs sorting out, in a way that leaves doubt and no wriggle-room.
djellison
QUOTE (Stu @ May 4 2008, 12:06 AM) *
Or hack a piece out of the Liberty Bell? Or spray paint a message on the side of what's left of the Titanic?


Too late on both counts. A big fat chunk of the titanic was actually raised - you can buy coal, cutlery, crockery, from Titanic. - and I believe pieces of Liberty Bell 7 were sold after it was recovered. (unless you mean the bell, not the mercury capsule)

In the very grand scheme of things, Tranquility Base will be reduced to nothing my micrometeorites given long enough (a few tens of millions of years for footprints iirc) - who knows what the state of them is after a LEM launch. But in the meantime, a 50m radius centred on the LEM decent stage as a keep out zone would be a wise step.

Doug
Stu
QUOTE (djellison @ May 4 2008, 12:29 AM) *
Too late on both counts. A big fat chunk of the titanic was actually raised - you can buy coal, cutlery, crockery, from Titanic. - and I believe pieces of Liberty Bell 7 were sold after it was recovered. (unless you mean the bell, not the mercury capsule)


Actually I did mean the ring-ding bell, not the capsule... I can just imagine the reaction if someone suggested teams be allowed to compete to chip pieces off that bell with robots...

As for Titanic, yes, I knew that too; I said "spray a message on", as in deliberately ruining and defacing it. And if I remember correctly the Titanic bits raised so far have all been loose pieces or chunks lying around the main wreck; I don't think anyone's actually cut sections off the main hull, tho I could be wrong about that.

I just can't get my head around the idea that the landing site of the first human expedition off planet Earth to land on another world might be ruined by robots, for money. It's ridiculous, and shaming.
nprev
QUOTE (djellison @ May 3 2008, 03:29 PM) *
In the very grand scheme of things, Tranquility Base will be reduced to nothing my micrometeorites given long enough (a few tens of millions of years for footprints iirc) - who knows what the state of them is after a LEM launch.


True...but hopefully we'll have some permanent lunar denizens in place long before then to put some sort of protective structure over the site. smile.gif As far as the lift-off damage, gotta consider that as part of the event; I wouldn't restore any of it, not even right the flag if it was indeed blown over per Aldrin's account.
Stu
Here's an interesting tidbit... was quite amazed no-one had thought to do this before... wish I had! It's obvious when you think about it...

New photograph of Neil Armstrong on Moon
Phil Stooke
People who care about the protection of these sites should contact the GLXP or take part in the forum on their site:

http://www.googlelunarxprize.org/

The rules are still being worked out.

Phil
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QUOTE (tedstryk @ May 3 2008, 04:05 PM) *
I don't see any point in preserving the sites if no one can see them.


I'm betting, though perhaps very optimistically, that within a century or two someone will see them...hopefully hundreds of thousands if not millions of people over the next few thousand years or so. Tranquility at least should be protected and preserved at the same level as a UN World Heritage site. Really, if you look at it over an even greater time frame then I just spoke of it will forever be a priceless archeological site...the very first time "early" Man (by then!) left Earth for another place...

I don't have a problem with a rover getting within observing distance of TB, but would not advocate it disturbing the artifacts of any of Armstrong & Aldrin's activities (yep; that means footprints, to say nothing of the hardware.) We'll set foot on other worlds someday, but there's only one first time ever, and this is it. We gotta leave it alone until we're capable of protecting it from the elements for posterity and future appreciation.

Phil, thanks for the link; registered for the forum, will post my opinions shortly.

EDIT: Just did, if anyone else would like to chime in.
Stu
On the Google Lunar X-Prize website, a YouTube video from one of the teams ("Astrobotic") refers to their rover "seeing, at some point, the US flag, or the remains of it... the footprints of the astronauts and, up close, the plaque..." Now, how they're going to see those things - especially "up close" - without disturbing the site is beyond me. blink.gif
nprev
Yeah...esp. with that little robot-vacuum-cleaner-looking rover.

Starting to get a chilly feeling down my spine that TB may be much less than intact by the time the next human visits it... sad.gif
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