Space has sparked our curiosity, inspiring us to create new technologies to explore and help us understand a world beyond Earth. Could mining the moon be the next adventure? In our #DoNowMoon post, we asked students What do you think is the most important scientific or ethical concern to consider about mining the moon? Why? How should private companies that venture into space exploration be regulated?
Moon Express, a company based in Mountain View, California, is competing to win Google’s Lunar X prize, a contest that will award $20 million to the first private venture that can land a robot on the moon, have it travel 500 meters and bring back high-definition video and images of the lunar surface. Yet, Moon Express’ goal is to mine the moon for metals. Additionally, NASA is now offering non-financial support to assist private companies interested in commercial activities along with scientific and academic research on the moon. While the UN created the United Nations Space Treaty of 1967, which established guidelines for nations to abide by for space exploration, many are concerned about the ethics of mining the moon and whether or not the treaty applies to private companies.
For the past two weeks, students discussed the benefits and disadvantages of mining the moon, pointing to the possibility of discovering new information about the moon or how the activity can interfere with tides. The majority of students, however, argued that mining the moon can lead to several problems among nations, the moon and also life on earth.
Too Many Problems
Students discussed a variety of problems that mining can cause on the moon and earth.
— Breanna Madison (@madison_breanna) February 20, 2014
— Nicole sharp (@NicoleAPBio) February 27, 2014
@catherine_beee Besides financial problems, there will be environmental problems and disputes over power.
— Guadalupe Lopez ♔ (@lupstaplease) February 21, 2014
— Maya Bello (@B14Maya) February 28, 2014
Fix Problems on Earth First
Other students argued that we need to focus on the problems on earth before exploring the moon.
— anthony villanueva (@anthony52754985) February 25, 2014
— Benjamin Anderson (@Banderson579) February 24, 2014
Other students wondered if mining would lead to nations taking advantage of the moon’s resources.
— Itza (@BonillaItza) February 21, 2014
— Josie Icaza (@ihaveapetzygoat) February 27, 2014
It Would Give Us More Information…Let’s Try It!
Some students argued that mining would help us discover more about the universe.
— marianila (@angiee_nila) February 20, 2014
— ziggy (@ziggycanales) February 21, 2014
— Teah (@16Teah) February 21, 2014
The Moon is Worth More Than Money
Many students pointed to the inherent value of the moon.
— Abby Parker (@AbbyParkthat) February 21, 2014
— Breanna Scarborough (@BreannaNycolee) February 21, 2014
What about the Tides?
Many students expressed their concern about how mining would impact the tides.
— Arthur Dela Cruz (@kakaface_turo) February 21, 2014
The moon effects the tides and there is no way of knowing if or how mining it will effect our oceans #DoNowMoon
— Telesia Hunkin (@sialater7) February 26, 2014
This Could Lead to War with Other Countries
Several students discussed how mining could encourage countries to fight for territory on the moon.
#DoNowMoon if we r going 2 mine the [moon] we need 2 be prepared for the probs out of it like $ + nations fighthing w/ each other for power.
— Berenice Fuentes (@16Berenice14) February 20, 2014
— Vincent Cheung (@MrRiddlerVince) February 21, 2014