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From our Expert Voices conversation on what we could learn from a new human trip to the Moon.

Returning to the Moon makes good scientific and economic sense and will help enable sustainable human exploration of Mars.

  • There are volatile deposits on the Moon that contain water, establishing the presence of both human-life-support consumables and rocket fuel for human missions to Mars that can be created by recombining hydrogen and oxygen.
  • A protective sheath of water derived from the Moon could also be put around the human-rated capsule for radiation protection. This would be almost cost-prohibitive to launch from Earth.

What's needed: The next step is to find out if these resources are actually reserves that can be extracted, refined, transported and used. Prospecting rovers with drilling capabilities will be essential in that effort.

Why now: Recent efforts to send astronauts to the Moon have fallen through but this time is different in key ways:

  1. Fresh leadership: The Moon has been portrayed as a distraction, but the current nominee for NASA Administrator, James Bridenstine, would have the chance to refocus the agency.
  2. New space race: China is building its own capabilities for space travel, which should spur the U.S. to get back to the Moon.
  3. Unified focus: Our international partners have a common near-term goal of reaching the Moon, not Mars or asteroids. Eight landed lunar missions are planned between now and 2025, all focused on resource exploration and possible extraction.

The bottom line: The Moon has important resources. It's imperative the U.S. be a leader, and not a follower, as humanity expands into the solar system.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Updated 13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Report: Pentagon watchdog finds Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to an official report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

Driving the news: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation. Jackson has called the allegations "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.