Field Geology: Its Role on the Moon & Mars

Dr Harrison H. Schmitt

Apollo 17 Astronaut, Adjunct Professor, School of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

--- Abstract - Profile ---

Abstract: In spite of the record of the Apollo astronauts, the questions probably will always be asked: "Why humans in space? Wouldn't robots be better and safer?" I know from history and personal experience on the Moon that during exploration, appropriately experienced humans will provide instantaneous observation, interpretation, and assimilation of the environment in which they work and a creative reaction to that environment unavailable from any other source. Human eyes, experience, judgement, ingenuity, and manipulative capabilities are unique in and of themselves and highly additive in synergistic and spontaneous interaction with instruments and robotic systems. Due to inherent communication delays and the cost of returning samples to Earth, human exploration of Mars will depend on people and facilities on or near Mars for mission support and sample analysis. Earth will be entirely in a data analysis and advisory role, not in a full support role as for Apollo. On Mars, as for the development of the Moon's resources, cost considerations favor the rapid development of Martian self-sufficiency and early settlement.

PROFILE: Selected for the Scientist-Astronaut program in 1965, Dr Harrison Schmitt organized the lunar science training for the Apollo Astronauts, represented crews during the development of hardware and procedures for lunar surface exploration, and oversaw the final preparation of the Apollo Lunar Module Descent Stage. He was designated the Mission Scientist in support of the Apollo 11 mission. After training as backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 15, Schmitt served in that same capacity on Apollo 17 the last Apollo mission to the moon. On December 11, 1972, he landed in the Valley of Taurus-Littrow as the only scientist and the last of 12 men to step on the Moon. Dr Schmitt is Chair Emeritus of The Annapolis Center (risk assessment evaluation) and holds an appointment as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, teaching "Resources from Space". He is a founder and the Chairman of Interlune-Intermars Initiative, Inc., advancing the private sector's acquisition of lunar resources and He-3 fusion power and broad clinical use of medical isotopes produced by fusion-related processes.