Where would we be if after Lewis and Clark’s path-setting exploratory expedition we had simply said “okay, we’ve been there and done that”? Instead their Federally supported efforts threw open the doors to the glorious opportunities of this great nation.  To this day, scientists continue to explore diverse areas of the continent we call home.

As we have learned, all our exploratory efforts are neither successful nor life sparing.  The price in human life is always high, but we also respectfully honor the benefits those sacrifices have provided us.  We simply cannot afford to be shy about revisiting exploration sites that on a first visit may have yielded only slight returns. The Apollo missions to the Moon were important “first steps”, but they remain as brave teasers that should be egging us on to look further and deeper into our Moon.

Yes, we must also explore the planet Mars for many important reasons, but what we learn from our Moon beforehand can both improve how we learn from Mars, and insure that we go ahead with a clearer understanding of the processes that formed all of our planetary neighbors.  Lewis and Clark had the advantage of the local knowledge and wisdom of their  guides, especially Sacajawea and Touissant Charbonneau.  They did not let the advice of those two esteemed aides go unnoticed, and we will be quite remiss if we do not take advantage of our first explorations of our Moon and the advice of its first explorers.

The history of the explorations of Antarctica is filled with acts of great courage and great scientific achievement.  Those explorations are still going on and with each one we gain a new understanding of our home planet and of planet formation and evolution.  The microbiologists with their super microscopes drill down into the very depths of life on this planet and continue to be both amazed and enriched by the diversity and resilience of many life forms that we will never see or meet.  If Louis Pasteur had clapped his hands, did a little dance, and after his many discoveries had announced that we have been there and done that and closed shop, where would we be in today’s bio-sciences? Most likely someone else would have picked up the ball, but at the price of relearning what Pasteur had already established.

There are important geo-biological and geophysical messages still waiting to be read on planet Earth.  There are also tons of similar messages waiting to be read on our Moon.  What we are learning and can learn from these two sources will enable us to more fully understand how our solar system evolved and most importantly what happened to Mars and the tenuous life it once supported.  So, in my opinion our first and most important step toward Mars, is a next and fuller set of steps back to our Moon.  Like Lewis and Clark we will be opening new doors of discovery and explanation in our effort to understand all that surrounds us and beyond.


Lewis and Clark in canoes:  Image from the National Archives.

Explore posts in the same categories: Astrobiology, Deep Space Explorations, Humankind and Exploration, Moon Base Mission, Paleobiology

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  1. Hey, ok, I get it, I guess – but does this really work?

  2. This is the greatest nonsenese I ever heared off.

    • XiNeutrino Says:

      Well what about space exploration would make sense to you? I would appreciate some examples.

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