25 May 2012
Keynote 2: Exploring the Moon and Asteroids: A Synergistic Approach
Dr. Clive R. Neal of the University of Notre Dame delivered the second keynote address of the GLEX conference.
Neal’s talk explored the synergies between lunar research and asteroid exploration. Neal began by reminding the audience that it will be synergies between industry, government, and academics what will drive the next round of space exploration, and that these partnerships and joint projects will usher in a new era of exploration.
Neal reviewed the history of lunar exploration, and then went on to lay out a case for why lunar exploration is the natural stepping-stone to exploration in the rest of the universe. According to Neal, factors supporting the use of lunar exploration as a stepping-stone for exploration efforts on asteroids and other near earth objects include: That it is an airless bodies which features a harsh dusty environment, the surface contains rocks and other structures as would be found on asteroids, there are large temperature swings between night and day, and the soil and its substructure contain volatiles and metals, which could be mined. The only downside to using the Moon that Dr. Neal foresaw was that the gravitational field is slightly different from that which would be found on an asteroid, and that would make a difference in some of the training.
In the end, Neal summed up his reasons for using the Moon to prepare for future missions along three axes of argument: Science – pursue science to address fundamental questions about the Solar System, and the universe 2) Feed Forward – use moon to prepare for Mars and NEO exploration, and 3) Sustainability, keep extending our presence on the Lunar surface, using the materials found there to help us achieve that goal.