Bombing the Moon

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 ?


3 Responses to Bombing the Moon

  1. Tony says:

    OTOH I’ve often wondered why we spend so much money on looking at and trying to understand things so far away that the human race is likely to be extinct before light they are now (accepting that NOW is a relative term) emitting ever reaches us. Why not put all the deep space astronomy money into solar, STP and planetary physics and into manned expeditions to the Moon and beyond? I accept that blue sky and pure research benefits humanity as a whole but we’d get a lot more out of research based nearer to home – no? I also know that spinoffs from astronomy research benefit us directly but we’d likely get the same or better spinoffs from solar astronomy and planetary visits.

    [Quickly ducks!)]

  2. andyxl says:

    Tony – why not both ? The point really is that its a different subject. Its not about choosing between different types of astronomy; its more like choosing whether to fund geophysics or genetics. My answer is “both please”; but solar system exploration is much much much more expensive than stars and galaxies and the CMB. For 100M you can be a world leader in extragalactic astronomy, or a walk on extra in solar system exploration. So if we transfer the UK astronomy money to solar system exploration it makes a negligible dent in the fact that actually the US does all that stuff.

  3. […] fundamental sense I have no problem with all this – STFC is doing its job. Of course as I said in a recent post, the worry is whether its as-well-as or […]

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