Don Pettit, who obtained his doctorate in chemical engineering from UA in 1983, recently discussed the reasons why we visit the moon at TEDxNaperville.
Pettit, who has traveled to space three times – accruing more than 370 days in space and more than 13 hours on spacewalks – talked about how the moon’s relatively close position to Earth, its interesting properties, and its useful resources make it a worthy destination in its own right.
“We have learned rather recently something we didn’t know during the Apollo days: We have learned there’s water on the moon,” Pettit said, explaining that the water is in the form of ice and frost in deep craters. “Near the poles, around the rims of these craters, you have near-continuous solar energy, so you have this beautiful juxtaposition of energy and resources right next to each other.”
In addition to things we could learn from the moon’s own virtues, it could also be a perfect staging area for exploring beyond, Pettit explained. The fractional gravity means rocket launches from the lunar surface would use much less in the way of resources than launches from Earth.