|ESA Science & Technology||30-Jun-2005 15:14:06|
Space enthusiasts often regret how, having left footprints on the Moon, no one went back there after the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Man's return to the Moon is not for the immediate future. Other planets are also enticing us.
The Moon, however, is considered as a realistic first step for human expansion in the Solar System. Compared to Mars for instance, the Moon is closer, less hostile, far more accessible - and it could be a springboard to future manned exploration of the Solar System. High technology missions in orbit (such as SMART-1, Lunar-A, Selene) or on the surface with rovers and robotic outposts (under study) are within reach.
The scientific results and technology consequences of the recent lunar and planetary probes, and those scheduled over the next few years show a renewed and important role for the Moon as a testbed for science and technology, and for resource utilisation.
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