Motives, methods, and essential preparation for planetary field geology on the Moon and Mars
Published:December 01, 2011
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H.H. Schmitt, A.W. Snoke, M.A. Helper, J.M. Hurtado, K.V. Hodges, J.W. Rice, Jr., 2011. "Motives, methods, and essential preparation for planetary field geology on the Moon and Mars", Analogs for Planetary Exploration, W. Brent Garry, Jacob E. Bleacher
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Future lunar exploration will provide opportunities to expand the human scientific exploration of the Moon and, eventually, Mars. Planning for renewed field exploration of the Moon entails the selection, training, and capabilities of explorers; selection of landing sites; and adoption of an operational approach to extravehicular activity. Apollo program geological exploration, and subsequent analysis and interpretation of findings and collected samples underpin our current understanding of lunar origin and history. That understanding continues to provide new and important insights into the early histories of Earth and other bodies in the solar system, particularly during the period when life formed and began to evolve on Earth and possibly on Mars. Specific new lunar exploration objectives include: (1) testing the consensus “giant impact” hypothesis for the origin of the Moon; (2) testing the consensus impact “cataclysm” hypothesis; (3) determining the temporal flux of large impacts in the inner solar system; and (4) investigating the internal structure of the Moon. Apollo samples also identified significant and potentially commercial lunar resources that could help satisfy future demand for both terrestrial energy alternatives and space consumables. Equipment necessary for successful exploration includes that required for sampling, sample documentation and preservation, communications, mobility, and position knowledge. Easily used active geophysical, portable geochemical, and in situ petrographic equipment can greatly enhance the scientific and operational returns of extended exploration compared to that possible during the Apollo program.