I25 Science opportunities

A lunar base will be a superb platform for scientific activities of, on, and from the Moon. For example, the Moon is a much more stable platform for the operation of space telescopes than Earth orbit or free space, and the lunar regolith can be used to shield instruments from ionizing radiation, micrometeorites, and temperature extremes. Interferometry, the high-precision telescopic technique that yields images of very high resolution in optical and longer wavelengths, can be fully exploited on the Moon. The far side of the Moon is also free from all radio interference from the Earth, and is therefore the ideal site in the solar system for the operation of radio telescopes, including the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The Moon will eventually become a coordinated astronomical observatory that will greatly expand humankind's knowledge of the universe. The Moon is also a treasure trove of information on the geologic history of the solar system, and a global program of geologic exploration of mountains, rilles, maria, and lava tubes will commence with the permanent return of humanity to the Moon.

The scientific/industrial base of the Moon will be an excellent site for research and development of "spacefaring" technologies such as in-situ resource utilization, electromagnetic propulsion, power beaming, materials science, agronomy, pharmacology, and life support systems. These advances will benefit the people of the Earth and will be applied to the exploration of more distant sites in the solar system such as Mars. Few of the processes or tools for lunar base operations now exist in a mature form - they will have to be developed incrementally from existing technologies. As the technology is developed, additional copies of working systems can be made on the Moon, essentially "bootstrapping" into full deployment, starting from small caches of Earth-manufactured machine tools, communications devices, and other portions of payloads yet to be defined. Once these "off-Earth" technologies and innovations have been developed for lunar purposes, however, they will have ubiquitous applications in space, on asteroids, planets, and moons throughout the solar system.

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