#95 May 1996
Section 22.214.171.124.095.of the Artemis Data Book
Peter Kokh"A TALE OF TWO MOONS": Earth-facing and Earth-oblivious
Relevant Readings from Back Issues of MMM
MMM # 9 OCT '87, "Farside: Part I"
MMM # 10 NOV '87, "Farside: Part II"
MMM # 69 OCT '93, p 7 "Seven Wonders of the Moon"
MMM # 86 JUN '95, p 8 "Relayside"
The fact that the Moon keep's the same hemisphere forever turned toward Earth, while the other hemisphere is forever averted from Earth, may well have profound effects on Lunan culture, markedly distinguishing Nearside and Farside folk from each other. Much that applies to Nearside applies to Farside equally (mineral character of the surface, airlessness and exposure to cosmic weather, low gravity, thermal extremes, general dehydration, etc.) It is life against these constraints that will shape the Lunan character in general. But the presence or absence of Earth over the horizon will introduce profound differences in the cultural spirit of Nearsiders and Farsiders.
Nearside: Earth hangs in the black star-filled sky like some bedazzling jewel filling thirteen times the sky area with some sixty times the candlepower the Moon in our own skies, phase for phase. Its ever re-marbling blues, greens, tans, and whites will make it the prime repository of color in lunar "nature". Paradoxically, where the Earth is at a very high angle over the horizon in central Nearside (the "Crooknecks"), it will be less obtrusive into daily consciousness than closer to the Nearside limbs where it hangs comfortably above the horizon (the "Postcardlands"). Many Nearside homes, offices, schools, hotels etc. will have windows built to frame the ever changing and ever fascinating spectacle of Earth.
It is, of course, possible to look at Earth, even study it from the Moon, just for its beauty and everchanging detail - without being reminded of the human culture on its surface, and its overwhelming dominance of the Earth/Moon economic equation. Some pioneers will be more successful than others in resisting the intimidation of the spectacle. Others, feeling Earth's presence as overbearing, will work the harder to develop genuinely Lunan forms of culture and expression.
Again, paradoxically, the presence of the Earth may insert itself most strongly right along the limbs of Nearside where libration effects sometimes let it slip just below the horizon (the "Peekaboos"). Here in a broad 14 degree swath around the Moon from pole to pole where Earth oscillates above and below the horizon on a four week cycle, there may arise major settlements involved in the construction and maintenance of lunar solar power arrays beaming electrical power Earthwards - as well as a scattering of resorts. For the Peekaboos in general may become a favorite Lunan honey-moon destination. Here one can experience alternately, Earth kissing the horizon, and the rapture of Earthless skies.
Farside: Beyond the limbs (the "Peekaboos"), Earth is out of sight and out of mind. Lunar Farside is rather turned towards the "rest of the universe, a universe without Earth". Its skies instead are dominated by the unchallenged splendor of the Milky Way in a glory not yet fully experienced by any human (excepting brief out-the-porthole glimpses by busy Apollo astronauts circumnavigating the globe).
Not only will Earth be visually out of sight, without cable relay to Nearside, or without satellite relays, the home planet will be out of sight electronically as well. The resulting "silence" will be an invaluable asset to radio astronomers attempting to listen to the whispers of the universe in order to learn more about its structure, and whether or not it harbors other contemporary and equally curious techno-sapient species.
Terrain-wise, Farside has great impact basins just as Nearside does. But because the Farside crust is much thicker, the molten magma from the interior has had less success in reaching the surface and pooling in great sheets within these basins - to make "maria". Farside "seas" are smaller and scattered in comparison. There is no convenient "chain of seas" as on Nearside, making long excursions much more difficult. Farside terrain will be more of a challenge to builders of global highway networks.
Pioneers will come to Farside not only in the support of scientific installations like radio astronomy arrays, but for mineral resources that may conceivably occur there in richer concentrations than on Nearside. For whatever reason, over time, Earth being out of sight, out of mind, Farsider culture will evolve as more fiercely self-reliant, more willing to cut umbilical ties to Earth, more fascinated with the greater uni-verse out there, more enraptured by the siren call of the stars.
If we do someday succeed in establishing self-reliant but interdependent pockets of humanity beyond Earth orbit, to the point where some sort of "consolar" organization or association seems called for, a site on the lunar Farside might command top consideration for a headquarters or solar capital. Lunar Farside is conveniently close to Earth in travel and communications terms - and - the vast bulk of humanity will remain on Earth for the foreseeable future. Yet lunar Farside will be a place preoccupied with "the rest of the universe", a place unintimidated by Earth and its massive civilization and economy. In contrast, Earth will be very much present in the skies of Martian settlements, shining almost Venus-bright.
Any particular favorite sites? It would seem the best site for an extensive radio astronomy installation would be in Thomson crater in the north east of Mare Ingenii, the Sea of Ingenuity. A solar "capital" could piggyback on such an installation. But seen from approaching spaceships, easily the most visually striking feature of lunar Farside is the very dark mare-filled floor of the great crater Tsiolkovsky, dominated by the very bright central massif, the peaks of Konstantin. Such a site would have much romantic appeal and the symbolism of the name could not be more serendipitously propitious.
It will take time, of course, for cultural differences between longtime Nearsiders and longtime Farsiders to appear. Once they do, the differences might become the stuff of friendly rivalry. Yet the much broader shared conditions of life on the Moon will dominate both cultures in the end. MMM
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto