To the moon…and beyond?

Science museums across the United States joined the Newseum, Washington, D.C., in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. A panel discussion, simulcast to six ASTC member institutions and moderated by journalist Nick Clooney, featured lunar module pilots Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11) and Charlie Duke (Apollo 16); John Grunsfeld, mission specialist during a recent Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission; and Laurie Leshin, deputy director for science and technology, Goddard Space Flight Center. The panel took phoned-in questions from audiences at Saint Louis Science Center, Missouri; the American Museum of Natural History, New York; Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colorado; Museum of Science, Boston; Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago; and California Science Center, Los Angeles.

The discussion reflected on past accomplishments and looked to the future of space exploration. The panelists all expressed a desire to expand deep space exploration but had different opinions on whether the U.S. space program should focus on a return to the moon or manned exploration of Mars. They also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of robotics versus human exploration of other worlds.

About the image: John Grunsfeld (second from left), Laurie Leshin, Charlie Duke, and Buzz Aldrin answer a question from a visitor at Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Moderator Nick Clooney at left. Photo by Christine Ruffo