Here is Part 1 and Part 2.
The winner of this from the start has clearly been the Moon. Not just any other moon, it is our Moon. Life as we know it would not exist without the Moon. On top of that it is the only astronomical body humans have ever visited (a sad fact in my mind at this point). Even if it is a sad fact, it has been 50 years (Kennedy's speech was in 1961) since we started and the amazing technological feat is still jaw dropping and the is mouth watering for more.
|Crater Daedalus from the far side of the Moon. (Apollo 11, Crater 308)|
We Humans, Americans even, have the furthest probes from Earth and the best understanding of Earth. First their was the Pioneer program, which can't receive signal from wherever they are. Then the Voyagers, our first true cosmic travellers, now at the edge of the Solar System. We are approaching interstellar status due to these probes, even though we physically haven't been much further then our Moon.
|HIRES of the closer side of the Moon, click to Enmooninate.|
There is an idea for near-Earth asteroids, but they can only supply so much. They are best for economic needs. For true interplanetary action, you need the Moon, the resources there will help us in our travels. So at this point I've made my arguments for the Moon obvious, so what so we know about it?
The Moon is the fifth largest satellite in the solar system. That makes the Earth a weird place. Besides Pluto/Charon, we have the largest Planet/Moon ratio in the Solar System. The Moon has a quarter of the Earth's diameter and 1/81th the mass. The stirring of the oceans it causes, tides, might have helped to create life. It's size protects us from several asteroids and meteorites. It is a shield, we don't know if life could exist without such protection. Life has a great debt to The Moon.
|NASA's Idea on Structure of the Moon.|
We know The Moon has an inner iron core and most of it's composition, including titanium and aluminum deposits. The Moon was created from the Earth when a large Mars sized object impacted! Many of it's properties are similar to a smaller Earth. In fact. After Pluto/Charon, it is the next closest thing to a double planet in our solar system. There might be a bit of ying and yang there, as the Earth is large, blue and full of life. The Moon is small, grey and dead.
Ultimately, I hope for the best between humans and the Moon. We already own it, but maybe we can tame it in the next hundred years. Between the private companies and governments interested, it won't take long. I imagine Bigelow Aerospace dropping their inflatable capsules in the next few years. As long as the jerks below aren't involved.
|Adult Swim's Aqua Teen Hunger Force's Mooninites.|