(Note: Originally published to the Pomerantz Report)
First and foremost, a hearty congratulations to the Mars Phoenix team for their discovery. I think it is awesome that it first came out via Twitter. This% is a monumental event, and one I hope people take time to ponder...
The Google Lunar X PRIZE was the subject of a nice article on CNN today. It's a good article, although I wish it hadn't ended by talking about Moon hoaxes.
NASA also has a nice article up on my personal favorite Apollo mission, Apollo 12, and specifically on the visit to Surveyor 3. Those people interested in the ethical issues about whether or not future missions should be allowed to approach historical past missions should surely consider this case study of the Apollo 12 mission. As the NASA article states:
On their second four-hour EVA, Bean and Conrad walked over to Surveyor 3, took dozens of photographs and measurements, and began snipping off parts of metal tubing and electrical cables. They retrieved a camera. The very last thing they removed was a small scoop at the end of Surveyor's extendable arm, which had dug into the dry moon dust and gravel to make mechanical measurements of lunar soil. .. [Back on Earth, these] were analyzed and then put in storage. ... And there matters quietly lay ... until recently when researchers at NASA's Glenn Research Center (GRC) realized that that little scoop could hold big secrets.It's clear that the Apollo 12 mission has done a lot of good that couldn't be accomplished if the astronauts hadn't been able to approach Surveyor 3. But it's also clear that anyone discussing approaching any heritage site will have to carefully consider the ethics of approaching and potentially disturbing a priceless, unique treasure.
Namely, the secrets of digging on the Moon.
As I've stated before, it's exciting to have a cause to have this discussion. It's a likely to be a lengthy one, and one that happens in many places, but here's a good place to start. I hope you'll chime in with your thoughts!