Stephen Hawking, world-celebrated expert on the cosmological theories of gravity and black holes who held Issac Newton's Lucasian Chair at Cambridge University, called for a massive investment in establishing colonies on the Moon and in a lecture in honor of NASA's 50th anniversary. The Moon is a good place to start because it is "close by and relatively easy to reach", Hawking said. "The Moon could be a base for travel to the rest of the solar system," he added. would be "the obvious next target", with its abundant supplies of frozen water, and the intriguing possibility that life may have been present there in the past.
Last week, in a presentation to the AIAA Space conference in Pasadena, California, Ouliang Chang of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, suggested that NASA build a supercomputer and accompanying radio dishes on the far side of the moon in a deep crater near a pole where it would be protected from the moon's extreme temperature swings, and might let it tap polar water ice for cooling. This lunar supercomputer would not only ease the load on terrestrial mission control infrastructure, it would also provide computational power for the "first phase of lunar industrial and settlement development."
NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) currently controls its space missions through a network of huge satellite dishes in California, Spain and Australia. Even the Voyager 1 35 years after it's launch from Earth relies on the DSN as it enters the frontier of the solar system, NASA's Voyager 1 probe may be tasting interstellar space for the first time, according to scientists analyzing fresh data from the distant explorer sent via the DSN. But the network data stream is growing fast, at a rate that the current systemcan't handle. The USC presentation at the conference also suggests that the moon-based dishes could work in unison with those on Earth to perform very-long-baseline interferometry, which allows multiple telescopes to be combined to emulate one huge telescope.
Companies like HP and IBM now build modular blocks which can be plugged together on location to provide massive computing power that could be shipped to the moon by the new commercial space cargo companies such as Space X.
Source: The Daily Galaxy via New Scientist and USC Viterbi School of Engineering