Bombing the Moon

February 11, 2008

I do like Bill Bailey. In Part Troll he has this great routine where he explains that America is like the schoolyard bully, and Britain is the spotty kid who stands just behind him, waving his fist and saying “yeaaherrr… like he said.. wotch it mate.. yeaaherr…” So it seems to make sense that when NASA goes all gung ho for the Moon, Britain says “yeeahherr .. we’re goin’ too. We got this fing called Moon Lite see – Moonlight, geddit – and we’re like gonna chuck stuff at the Moon and see what happens. Its cool. And my mate’s gonna build it, right.”

Well, Moonlite is kinda fun, though of course we must wait and see if it passes the rigours of peer review. And the idea of building a Moon base is exciting, and some seriously good astronomy could be done. But its all so expensive. If its done out of the national-pride budget as it were, thats cool. But if instead it comes out of the same budget as measuring the CMB, or looking for exoplanets, or finding redshift seven quasars… well we’d better be really careful about what gets the most science for the buck.

But hold those horses, Joe.

Thing one : Barrack Obama reckons the lunar programme is a tad expensive and would slow it down by five years .

Thing two : there’s a scientific campaign underway aimed at scrapping the whole back-to-moon thing and arguing for landing on asteroids instead. Fascinating. Watch this space.

Personally I’d vote for going to Europa.

Ooo but hang on, didn’t HAL tell us not to ?