PerspectivePlanetary Science

What Do We Need to Know to Land on the Moon Again?

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Science  11 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5750, pp. 983-985
DOI: 10.1126/science.1115126

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Nearly 40 years ago, humans first touched down on the Moon short of fuel and seeking a safe landing spot. In part, this was the result of limited knowledge of the lunar surface. As Zuber and Garrick-Bethell discuss in their Perspective, future missions (whether human or robotic) will require more information about the lunar surface to achieve safe landings and fulfill the mission goals. The recent Mars rover missions may offer a model: Scientific knowledge was used to inform engineering decisions that in turn enabled scientific discovery. A number of planned lunar orbiters will carry instruments to collect fundamental geophysical, geological, and geochemical data necessary to land safely and maximize the potential for future scientific discoveries.