Destination Moon, but what for?

Once again, the Moon is in the news. Last week, NASA announced plans for a permanent base on the Earth’s immediate neighbour, to be started soon after astronauts return there around 2020. With a fixed budget of about $17 billion a year, the US space agency would develop rockets and spacecraft to send people to the Moon and establish a rudimentary base. There, other countries and commercial interests could expand the outpost to develop scientific and other interests.
 
Several space agencies around the world are working to unravel some lesser-known facts about the Moon. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials point out that understanding the evolution of the Moon would help resolve important mysteries about Earth itself. Since the last manned expedition to the Moon took place almost 40 years ago, the new lunar explorations, equipped with the latest equipment will generate a flurry of data and hence, are better equipped to unravel the hitherto unknown features of the Moon.

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