Oregon L5 Society
Memo to George

The following is the final draft of a Memo from Oregon L5 Society Research Teams to the President's Commission on Moon, Mars, and Beyond

2004 February 18: Oregon L5 Society, a chapter of National Space Society, has researched planetary bases and activities since 1986, with an emphasis on potential advantages of lavatube caves. If present as expected on the Moon and Mars, these huge caverns can increase capabilities, improve safety, and reduce costs of planetary bases. We have also explored other concepts that may apply to the Commission's Charter; please follow links for details.

A sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond:

Rains of Rock: "When are martian meteor showers, how big are they, and where do they come from?" ("Mars Meteor Survey," Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) Mars Exploration Workshop)

Lavatube Sensing: "Many of the sensors currently proposed to be placed aboard precursor missions for other reasons can also serve as elements of lavatube search and confirmation." ("Lunar Lavatube Sensing," Lunar Resource Assessment Technologies Workshop; [abstract])

Radar Flashbulb: "...rf energy can penetrate the dry lunar surface, reflecting off large discontinuities within the lunar material, including the voids of lavatube caves...." ("Probing Lunar Lavatube Caves by Radar Illumination," LPI Workshop on New Views of the Moon; [PDF])

Mother Goose: "One unique approach recently proposed employs specialized swarms of insect-like mini-robots accompanying one or more flexible rover/relay station robots." ("The Mother Goose Project," NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC))

Mars Caves: "...relatively simple, easily-deployable subsurface habitats are constructible in caves, lavatubes, and other subsurface voids." ("Caves of Mars," NIAC)

Extended human presence across the solar system beginning with a return to the Moon before the year 2020:

Lavatube Bases: "It would be structurally, economically, and even aesthetically advantageous to utilize lava tube resources which are already in place and available to us on the Moon and Mars." ("Utility of Lava Tubes on Other Worlds," LPI Workshop on In Situ Resources; tinyurl.com/22qc2 ) "Building lunar bases inside these natural shelters yields major savings in capital and operational costs and increased safety from the very beginning of human occupation on the Moon." ("Lunar Lavatube Base Construction," Space 2000 Proceedings, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Reston VA, USA, p. 631-637.)

Fossil Water: "Ice in Martian lava tube caves would have scientific and developmental value." ("Martian 'Ice' Caves," LPI Mars Exploration Workshop)

Flat Crops: "Bioregenerative life support on Mars will require more than your 'garden variety' crops." ("Flat Crops for Mars," NIAC)

Innovative technologies, knowledge and infrastructures to explore and support decisions about the destinations for human exploration:

No Launch Needed: "VLB techniques could now provide a synthetic aperture large enough to image large lavatubes close to the lunar surface (within 200 m)." (Billings, Thomas L., "Remote Sensing of Lunar Lavatubes from Earth," Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS) 44, 1991, pp. 255-256)

Oregon Moonbase: "The Lunar Base Research Team of the Oregon L5 Society... proposes development of a lunar analog facility at a lava tube complex in Central Oregon." ("Site Characterization and Phase One Development Plan for Oregon Moonbase," NASA Office of Exploration Contract NASW-4460; [Executive Summary])

Gecko-Tech: "The combination of better potential for financial returns, and more secure investment through better safety for each base site, allows more productivity for investments to expand human activities throughout the solar system." ("Gecko-Tech in Planetary Exploration and Base Operations," ASCE Robotics 2002)

Lavatube Entrances: "Since lavatubes on the Moon or Mars are expected to be vast, the effort of entrance amelioration is small relative to the sheltered space it makes available." ("Lavatube Entrance Amelioration on the Moon and Mars," ASCE Space 2002)

Moon Lighting: "Sulfur Microwave or Sulfur RF Lamps are the most efficient technology available today (Rubinstein 1995) (Table 2), and their major constituents are available on the Moon." ("Moon Lighting: Illumination for Lunar Base Construction and Operations," ASCE Space 2002)

West Pole: "Two simple changes would bring the lunar coordinate system up to modern standards, improve utility, increase efficiency, and reduce errors." ("Lunar 'West Pole' Prime Meridian," ASCE Space 2002)

Mars on a Windy Beach: "Specifically, some distinctive scoured landforms may indicate exposed and accessible permafrost-soaked sands, and gullies appearing to have been formed by water emerging near the tops of steep slopes may instead be formed by very dry, waterless processes in sand or dust." ("Mars at the Beach," 2003 Mars Society International Conference, Eugene OR)

International and commercial participation in space exploration to promote scientific, security, and economic interests:

Small Business in Space: "Sustainable planetary bases will be more than research outposts or company towns. Allowing entrepreneurs the freedom to set up their own small businesses is a system that has worked very well to tap local resources and human creativity.... Many small businesses, each contributing in their own way to the economy, will be more robust, more sustainable, and more enriching than any single target business.... Extra space should be allowed for unforeseen purposes, and for expanding families, small businesses and tourist needs. If planners do not provide avenues for growth, they may make it impossible for communities to thrive." ("'As long as we're here...': Secondary Profit Generators for Moon and Mars Bases," ASCE Space 2002)

We also recommend as a general principle that landers scheduled for the Moon and Mars be made of standard and modularized parts as much as practicable. It costs so much to ship things up to the Moon and Mars, that we should make these artifacts recyclable by future missions. The ability to take apart a device to recover motors, solar cells, radio circuitry, and instruments will help keep those who come later at least a little ahead of the game. We should give them every advantage we can. If possible, all satellites should also include a GPS transmitter to build up a global navigation system, even more important for the trackless Moon and Mars than it is for Earth.

We are encouraged by President Bush's announcement and feel this new vision is informed by some of the best ideas developed over the last 30 years. Members of Oregon L5 Society are at your service should you have questions or desire further discussions.

Allen Taylor
President, Oregon L5 Society
Robert McGown
Chair, Lunar Base Research Team
R.D. 'Gus' Frederick
Chair, Mars Instrument and Science Team
Bryce Walden
Tom Billings
Cheryl Lynn York
Thomas Hanna
Dick Steffens
Doug Weathers

Oregon L5 Research Teams
Oregon L5 Society, Inc.

The Planetary Society National Space Society

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