4th International Conference on the Exploration and Utilisation of the Moon
Sponsored by The International Lunar Exploration Working Group
ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, July 14, 2000
Over 150 people gathered at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre ESTEC in Noordwijk, The Netherlands, to discuss the prospects for lunar exploration, development and utilisation. We found that interest in these topics has been significantly advanced by recent discoveries made by lunar orbiting missions and will continue to advance as new missions to the Moon are implemented. The ESA SMART-1 and the Japanese Lunar-A and SELENE missions are under development and government and private organisations are proposing other lunar missions.
In recognition of this re-emerging interest in the Moon, particularly among young people, the Conference attendees strongly support the formation of a Lunar Explorers' Society. This organisation, which was created today with intense participation from young explorers from around the World, will promote interest in science, technology development, new missions and better understanding of the role of the Moon in the future development of human civilisation.
The space agencies of the world are urged to focus their efforts to promote both public and private initiatives for lunar exploration and development. Government efforts should focus on the creation of technologies needed for lunar development and the conduct of intensified scientific studies of the Moon, from the Moon and on the Moon. Government - Industry partnerships should address the development of the resources and infrastructure needed for long - term human activities on the Moon, and there are nearer - term commercial opportunities.
The Earth and Moon have been linked from the time of their formation, over 4.5 billion years ago. The ancient record of events in our region of the solar system cannot be discerned on the Earth, which remains geologically active. On the Moon, much of the early history still is available to be deciphered and is the focus of much scientific interest. The advances in knowledge being made with data from the recent Clementine and Lunar Prospector missions allow many lunar problems to be reassessed, and new priorities have emerged for lunar scientific exploration. The geophysical characterisation of the interior and the return of samples from key locations are important near-future mission objectives, and opportunities for higher resolution chemical and mineralogical mapping from orbit should be pursued.
The Moon is an ideal test bed for demonstration of technologies to be used in the exploration of Mercury, Mars, asteroids or moons of the outer planets. In addition, many exciting advances that lead to long - term human exploration, development and settlement of the Moon can be initiated now through robotic programs (that is robotic outposts). Robotic missions can conduct scientific investigations, investigate the lunar environment, develop and demonstrate key technologies, and begin to establish the infrastructure that is needed to support humans.
Because the Moon is close to the Earth, and has a much smaller gravity field, lunar resources might one day be exportable for use elsewhere in space. Potentially, some products (solar energy, 3He for fusion reactors) may be profitably brought from space to Earth. Technology for accomplishing these possibilities should be investigated further. We urgently need conclusive data and knowledge about the physical, chemical and mineralogical composition of the lunar polar regions, which might contain supplies of hydrogen and water that could be useful for the near-term development of space. These should be developed in a considered, step-wise process, keeping in mind the potential for environmental impact on the Moon. The protection of the lunar environment is of high importance, but it now appears that localised resource exploration and utilisation can be conducted without global adverse effects.
As plans for lunar exploration and development are prepared, attention must be given to the inclusion of people from the entire world, and especially the young, in this endeavour. The Moon has a special significance in many cultures and sensitivity to these cultural aspects must be balanced with economic and technological advancements. The youth especially should be encouraged, perhaps by the creation of national programs to support small lunar missions designed, developed and implemented by students.
We believe that the Moon can be both a beacon and a focus for the next generation of space exploration, which will concentrate on bringing new and important benefits (resources, technologies, employment and education) to the people of all Nations on Earth.
Development of human capability on the Moon will be the next major step in humanity's emergence into the universe.
Last Update: 19 Mar 2013