- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
This book focuses largely on new results from recent missions and on their implications for how we interpret results from older missions. The new results have also renewed awareness of the Moon as a future target for exploration and many people see development of the Moon, particularly its resources, as a key step in the future exploration of the solar system (Aldridge et al. 2004). The interpretation of the lunar data sets in the context of future exploration and development of the Moon is, therefore, parallel to new scientific interpretations. This is in a sense a forward-looking view inspired in part by New Views of the Moon perspectives. It is also timely, as the United States is currently reconsidering its space exploration program, with a greater focus on renewed exploration of the Moon.
Earth’s Moon can be looked upon as an enormous Earth-orbiting Space Station, a natural satellite outside of Earth’s gravity well, with raw materials that can be put to practical use as humanity expands outward into the Universe. As outlined in previous chapters, new remote-sensing data for the Moon have reinvigorated lunar science and improved understanding of the Moon’s composition, the ages of its prominent formative events, and the character of the earliest lunar crust and its subsequent geologic evolution. In this chapter, we consider how we might use lunar materials for exploration, utilization, and development of the Moon. The Moon offers a nearby location from which to develop resources and capabilities to explore further in the Solar System. The natural resources of the Moon include minerals, rocks, and soils, which can be processed to produce metals, oxygen, glass, ceramics, and other useful products (McKay et al. 1992). Water ice may exist near the poles and low concentrations of volatiles deposited by solar wind (H, He, C, N) …