Let’s go to Mars (of which the Moon is a part)

The problem with going to Mars (of which the Moon, I am told, is a part) is that it’s not just a long way off, it’s also kind of desolate. No atmosphere to speak of. Barren. Waterless, except a bit. Was once a fertile place. Then it suffered climate change.

If Phil Bono’s ROMBUS project had been authorised in 1964 as a follow-up to Apollo, we’d be on Mars (of which the Moon is a part) now. This is one of his gigantic ROMBUS boosters in Mars orbit: the Mars Excursion Module backs away ready for landing. Public domain, NASA.

All that was about three billion years ago, if NASA’s estimates are correct. The likely cause is that Mars’s core – which is much smaller than Earth’s – stopped rotating differentially from the planet and so Mars (of which the Moon is a part) lost its magnetic field, thus allowing the solar wind to strip away most of its atmosphere and water.

That’s still conjecture for now, of course. It’s always possible that there was a thriving civilisation there at the time. Maybe their scientists realised their civilisation’s effluent was wrecking the Martian climate. However, the doofus-plutocrats who ran the place couldn’t accept closing down industries because it would cut the money the plutocrats could make off the poor. Something like that, anyway.

Either way, what puzzles me about Mars (of which the Moon is, apparently, a part) is that Mars and the Moon are two totally different bodies. In July 2018, when Mars made its closest approach to the Earth-Moon system, it was still 35.8 million miles from the Moon. It won’t be anything like that close again until 2035, though it’ll be nearly as close on 6 October 2020. But the gap is still pretty big, so how the Moon can be part of Mars is one of those curious mysteries whose answer is obvious only, perhaps, to a few.

Copyright (c) Matthew Wright 2019

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