22-25 July 2021 Jodrell Bank Observatory

Simeon Barber: Back to the Moon, and back to stay?

Dr. Simeon Barber is a research scientist at The Open University. He develops scientific instruments and missions to land on other planetary bodies. Past highlights include Rosetta Philae, which enthralled us all with amazing images and science at comet 67/P, and the ill-fated Beagle 2 Mars lander which was tracked by the Lovell telescope that provides the backdrop to bluedot. These instrument technologies are now being adapted to address a new challenge: to understand how water and other important building blocks of our Solar System are distributed on the Moon. Furthermore, can we find, extract and use these resources to enable sustainable exploration of the Moon and beyond? He is also the purveyor of a tempting business opportunity: he’ll try to convince you that water can sell for £1million a bottle…!

Talk: Back to the Moon, and back to stay?

50 years since humans first walked on the Moon and brought back precious samples for scientific analysis, a new fleet of spacecraft is being built. These landers will explore locations very different to the dry, equatorial Apollo landing sites. Near the lunar poles, we expect to find water and other ices frozen in cold craters which have not been warmed by the Sun for billions of years. Yet nearby there may be peaks of ‘eternal light’ – regions ideal for solar panels to harvest electrical energy. In this talk, I’ll describe the science we can achieve by sampling new areas of the Moon, and show some of the tools and instruments we will use on the surface. I’ll explain how this science can enable a new mode of space exploration, in which missions break their dependence on supplies brought from Earth, and instead harvest local resources for a more sustainable approach. Could it be that the next 50 years will see humans back on the Moon, and this time for more than a few days?


Saturday 2019