Geologists Call For Greater Science Emphasis In Human Space Missions
More than 50 years ago, a concerted effort by a few geologists convinced NASA to add a science element to its Apollo lunar missions.
Now, two geologists — one of them a former astronaut — are renewing the call.
The editorial by Kip Hodges of Arizona State University and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt appears in the journal Science Advances.
Robotic missions cost less, confine risk to nonhumans and have shown their value through missions to the moon, Mars and elsewhere.
But the authors say our best chance of unlocking the secrets of our solar system lies with on-site experts equipped with the best technology.
Hodges says if we're sending humans anyway, then we should fully support them and their capacity for faster and more substantial research.
"We could do a great deal of science without ever sending humans to the surface of the moon, but it's not particularly efficient. And the science return is much, much greater with humans on site," he said.