Monday, September 22, 2008

Our Closest Neighbor : The Moon

It has been more than 30 years since Neil Armstrong stepped from the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander onto the surface of the moon. The moon is still the only celestial body other than the Earth where humans have stood. But why did we go there? Columbus had sailed to a place promising great riches to exploit. The moon, in contrast, was and is a lifeless orb, devoid of water (mostly!), air, sound, weather, trees, or grass. While Columbus’s voyages had their tight moments (he once had to “predict” a solar eclipse to impress the natives), on his return from the fourth and final voyage to the New World, Columbus announced that he had indeed found an Earthly paradise.
But the moon?
From the pictures we’ve all seen, the lunar landscape is one of rock, dust, and desolation. And although the astronauts were seen skipping across its surface, they were clearly happy to return to mother Earth. Why on earth did our nation expend such effort, treasure, and risk to send astronauts to the lunar surface? What have we

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