Moon Debate Lacking Scientific Input

Discovery Institute
January 14, 2004
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SEATTLE, JAN. 14 – "Let's not abort the mission to the moon before we're clear about it's goals and values," said astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, a member of NASA Astrobiology Institute, today in response to critics of President Bush's announced intentions to push for a return to the moon.

"So far all of the debate has been based on political and economic issues with little input as to the scientific benefits and research advantages of such a mission," said Dr. Jay Richards of the Discovery Institute. Gonzalez and Richards are the co-authors of the forthcoming book The Privileged Planet (Regnery, 2004).

"A decision as important as whether or not to go to the moon should be made with all of the facts both for and against on the table," added Richards. "We just want to make sure that people understand what's at stake scientifically when they make up their minds."

Gonzalez, who's research in astronomy has been highlighted in publications such as Science, Nature and Scientific American, argues that ancient rocks on the Moon hold key information about our Solar System that are unavailable on earth.

"With no water and weak geologic activity the Moon is a veritable archive of information about our solar system's deep past," explains Gonzalez. "Rocks on the Moon remain unaltered for billions of years."

"It's also possible we could find Martian meteorites on the Moon," added Richards. "Unlike rocks on Mars, these will not have been altered by billions of years of exposure to water vapor. They may very well reveal secrets about Martian history that aren't even available on Mars itself."

Both Gonzalez and Richards are available for interviews about this issue specifically and the importance of space exploration in general. If you'd like to schedule an interview contact Rob Crowther at the Discovery Institute's Center for Science & Culture, (206) 292-0401 x107 or For more information visit the Institute's website at

About Guillermo Gonzalez
Guillermo Gonzalez of NASA's Astrobiology Institute and a Fellow of The Center for Science & Culture, is an Assistant Research Professor of Astronomy at Iowa State University. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1993 from the University of Washington. He has done post-doctoral work at the University of Texas, Austin and at the University of Washington and has received fellowships, grants and awards from such institutions as NASA, the University of Washington, Sigma Xi (scientific research society) and the National Science Foundation. Gonzalez has extensive experience in observing and analyzing data from ground-based observatories, including work at McDonald Observatory, Apache Point Observatory and Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory. He has also published over sixty articles in refereed astronomy and astrophysical journals including Astronomy and Astrophysics, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Astrophysical Journal and Solar Physics. His current research interest in astrobiology focuses on the "Galactic Habitable Zone" and captured the October 2001 cover story of Scientific American. Another area of his research is focused on analyzing and interpreting ground-based photometric and spectroscopic observations of low and intermediate mass stars in relation to current theories concerning the late stages of stellar evolution and the formation and evolution of planetary systems.

About Jay Wesley Richards
Jay Wesley Richards, Vice President Discovery Institute and Sr. Fellow of The Center for Science & Culture, has a Ph.D.(honors) in philosophy and theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he was formerly a Teaching Fellow. His masters thesis (Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary) treated philosopher of science Michael Polanyi. From 1996-1998, he was executive and associate editor of The Princeton Theological Review, and president of the Charles Hodge Society at Princeton Theological Seminary. He has published in academic journals such as Religious Studies, Christian Scholars' Review, The Heythrop Journal, Encounter, The Princeton Theological Review, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith: The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation; as well as editorial features in The Washington Post, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and He is editor and contributor, with George Gilder of Are We Spiritual Machines?: Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong AI (Discovery Institute Press, 2002) and co-author, with astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, of the upcoming book The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery (Regnery, 2004).

Press Contact
Rob Crowther
Discovery Institute
(206) 292-0401 x.107