Pity Our Moon

Exeposé 556 (this one of a few pieces I’ve written which I’m actually ashamed of, born as this one was in the desperation forged by having two co-editors suffering from Swine Flu, watching your deadline swiftly draw nearer and realising that you have a large gap where an editorial should be. To put the stupidity of the situation into perspective; when I started writing this piece it was speculative, however a network crash meant that we were cut-off from the outside world for a few hours. When everything was repaired the mission had already taken place. I don’t even know if that’s scientifically possible, but it nonetheless meant a muddled, confused piece which has little bearing on my own personal opinion. Being a hack is fun).

On Friday, NASA fired two unmanned spacecrafts into the Moon in a bid to detect the presence of water-ice beneath its surface. to no avail.

A first rocket slammed into the Moon’s south pole at 1231 BST, followed by a second craft which looked for signs of water in debris kicked up by the first collision. Unfortunately, NASA scientists and lunar enthusiasts were disappointed to find that the expected debris cloud was not evident in a moment so anticlimactic as to rival the recent Varsity match cancellation.

The US space agency mission, also known as LCROSS (the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite), however could be seen by many as marking a dangerous galactic precedent. After all, this is a project whose entire premise rests on an federally-funded American organisation effectively bombing the Moon, calling into question as to whether one country has the right to do so. Ridiculous as the analogy obviously is, should the UK suddenly turn around tomorrow and propose carving Churchill’s face across the Dorsa Harker it would hardly be allowed. Should one country – who has already marked the lunar surface with their national (as opposed to a global terran) flag be allowed to take the initiative to fire a rocket into a realm which man hopes to sometime colonise?  To hamper scientific discovery with the petty beauraucratic ramblings of planning permission may sound madness, however it’s something that must be considered, and in my opinion should have been debated prior to the operation.

Indeed, this operation cost the United States government around $79 million (around £49 million), a sum which could well have been spent on projects which do not involve steering rockets into the dark side of the moon seemingly on the basis of “sure, why not?”. Of course, exploration is an extremely important facet of the human experience – it has always been out nature to expand, seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone befo… no, wait, that’s Star Trek. However, the point remains that instead of investing funds into an admittedly rather haphazard project which so far has yielded no initial results and could be seen as a display of American imperialism on our neutral Moon, the American government could be instead directing it towards housing schemes, relief for the poor or healthcare.

No matter what our dreams as a species may be, we must always remember the grim reality of life on our blue planet and do our best to balance our future conquest of the stars with ensuring the best quality of life for our fellow earthlings in the present.

Starfleet can wait.

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