As a budding newspaper reporter I interviewed Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, one of only 12 astronauts to walk the moon when he flew the Apollo 17 mission. I remember being fascinated by his stories of driving the lunar rover around as he looked for geological samples. Now I've driven off-road in some of the most beautiful and exotic locales, including Egypt, Alaska, Mexico, Hawaii, Japan and Australia. But I would trade all those experiences for a chance to bust berms on a lunar surface. That's why this story about setting up camps on the moon caught my eye. While the big plans that call for mining operations on the moon would require heavy equipment, this new generation of lunar explorers will also need basic transportation. Click on the slideshow that accompanies this story and you'll see artist's renderings of different rovers, both concept and actual. The one shown above was especially interesting. It would maintain normal air pressure inside and serve as "the lunar equivalent of minivans or recreational vehicles." How cool is that idea? Of course, all these vehicles would have to be solar or fuel-cell powered EVs. Now that's a great reason to fast-track battery technology.
[Source: Alan Boyle / MSNBC)