Why We Need to Return to the Moon

Why We Need to Return to the Moon

I vividly recall sitting up all night with a dozen other astronomy students as we watched live on television the first men walk on the moon.

The Apollo missions were more than just television spectaculars, however. The Apollo program helped us solve the mystery of the moon’s origin and helped establish how amazingly designed the moon is for the support of advanced life on Earth. Our books The Creator and the Cosmos and Origins of Life tell the story.

Return missions to the moon could yield even more evidence of the moon’s design for humanity’s benefit and help solve one of the remaining mysteries of life’s origin on Earth. In particular, the moon is the one place in the universe where we have a good chance of finding the fossils of Earth’s first life.

Thanks in part to the Apollo program, scientists now know that when the earth was young, it was bombarded much more frequently with asteroids and large meteorites. These colliders ejected large amounts of the earth’s surface material into outer space, and much of that material wound up on the moon. In fact, astronomers have calculated that about 20,000 kilograms of material from Earth have been deposited on every 100 square kilometers of the lunar surface.1 Embedded in that material are the remains and fossils of Earth’s first life.

As Fuz Rana and I described in Origins of Life (see pp. 63-92), scientists have chemical evidence showing that life was abundant on Earth as far back as 3.8 billion years ago. But tectonics, metamorphosis, and erosion have destroyed all fossils of Earth’s life prior to 3.5 billion years ago. The only place where scientists have any realistic hope of recovering intact fossils of Earth’s first life is on the surface of the moon.

In Origins of Life we built a biblical model for life’s origin where we predicted that Earth’s first life would be both complex and diverse and that the origin of life occurred suddenly and as soon as Earth’s physical conditions would permit life to survive. Naturalistic models predict almost the opposite. Thus, we are thrilled with the prospect that lunar missions could put our creation model to the test. The recovery of the fossils of Earth’s first life on the lunar surface will help prove or disprove our biblical model for life’s origin.

Return missions to the moon should also yield more evidence for the design of the solar system for humanity’s benefit. The recovery and analysis of a lot more material from lunar impact basins will give us an accurate and comprehensive record of the impact history of the inner solar system. Such a record will tell us more about how the late heavy bombardment refigured the Earth’s interior so that a dynamo of the just-right strength, stability, and longevity could allow for the existence of advanced life. Such a record will also help us pin down how many mass extinction events were caused by colliders, how extensive each of those extinction events were, and how they potentially provide more evidence for a supernatural cause for the mass speciation events that followed.

Seismic studies on the lunar surface can reveal the size, structure, and composition of the moon’s core. Such information will give more details about the moon-forming impact event and how exquisitely designed that event was for the future benefit of human life.

Many of the moon’s craters at its north and south poles provide permanent shade from the sun’s rays. This shading means that the floors of such craters are kept continuously colder than -390°F. These stable conditions of extreme cold imply that any frozen gases deposited into these craters via mini-comets and meteorites are still in their pristine state. Thus, samples of polar-crater materials are likely to reveal the history of volatiles for the inner solar system. A detailed knowledge of this history will potentially expose more of the exquisite design of the Earth-Moon system for the benefit of advanced life.

Finally, the moon’s surface is loaded with undisturbed meteorites not only from Earth but also Venus (as much as 300 grams per square kilometer of lunar surface), Mercury, Mars (as much as 1,800 grams per square kilometer of lunar surface), and Jupiter’s moons.2 Given that missions to the moon are at least an order of magnitude cheaper, quicker, and safer than missions to other solar system bodies, it makes both scientific and economic sense to focus our solar system research efforts on our nearest neighbor. For example, dollar for dollar and year for year, we may learn much more about Mars by going to the moon instead of to the red planet.

The bottom line is that lunar research realistically could help settle one of the great controversies of our time, namely the creation/evolution debates. NASA’s current attempts and plans to do so with costly and potentially dangerous missions to Mars, Europa, Titan, and Enceladus seem much less likely to produce unambiguous results. Therefore, I strongly urge that solar system research be refocused on the moon.

  1. John C. Armstrong, Llyd E. Wells, and Guillermo Gonzalez, “Rummaging Through Earth’s Attic for the Remains of Ancient Life,” Icarus 160 (2002): 183-96.
  2. Armstrong, Wells, and Gonzalez, 183-96.