As a new administration prepares to take office, speculation abounds regarding what direction US space policy will take after the transition, as well as who will assume leadership roles at NASA and in other influential positions. Within this context, rumors are swirling regarding whether our nation will turn away from Mars and instead focus exclusively on the Moon.
One of the central arguments being advocated for “major” lunar activities is the unfortunately misguided notion that the construction of fuel depots on the lunar surface is a necessary precursor to eventual human missions to Mars. The reality, however, is that it’s not clear if there are necessary resources on the Moon that can be used for missions to Mars. In other words, it is questionable whether the enormous expenditure of time and resources that would be required to build up the required infrastructure on the Moon to utilize those resources would actually have any clear benefit to human Mars exploration. Thus, that diversion to the Moon would likely delay human missions Mars by decades or even by generations, and could very well delay other valuable lunar activities as well. In contrast, by aiming for Mars, we might very well get the Moon as a side benefit for the same cost. … (The Space Review)
Oh. And: Happy New Year!