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为什么我们想要“回来”月球?_纽约时报中英文版_纽约时报中英文网

更新时间:2019/7/18 20:20:16 来源: 作者:佚名

Why Everyone Wants to Go Back to the Moon
为什么我们想要“回来”月球?_纽约时报中英文版_纽约时报中英文网

Everyone, it seems, wants to go the moon now.

如今似乎人人都想来月亮上去。

In January, Chang’e-4, a Chinese robotic spacecraft including a small rover, became the first ever to land on the far side of the moon. India is aiming to launch Chandrayaan-2 this month, its first attempt to reach the lunar surface. Even a small Israeli nonprofit, SpaceIL, tried to send a small robotic lander there this year, but it crashed.

1月,中国的嫦娥四号机器人探测器携带一台小型巡视器历史上首次在月球背面着陆。印度计划本月发射“月船2号”(Chandrayaan-2),是该国首次尝试来达月球表面。连以色列一家小型非营利性组织SpaceIL今年也尝试发射了一个小型机器人着陆器来月球,但坠毁了。

In the coming decades, boots worn by visitors from these and other nations could add their prints to the lunar dust. China is taking a slow and steady approach, and foresees its astronauts’ first arrival about a quarter of a century in the future. The European Space Agency has put out a concept of an international “moon village” envisioned for sometime around 2050. Russia has also described plans for sending astronauts to the moon by 2030, at last, although many doubt it can afford the cost.

在未来几十年里,包括前述这些在内的许多国家的来访者,可能会在月球尘埃上留下他们的鞋印。中国正摘取缓慢而坚定的方针,估量在未来的25年中将有宇航员首次登月。欧洲空间局(European Space Agency)已提出了国际“月球村”的概念,着眼于2050年左右的某个时刻。俄罗斯也已提出了最晚在2030年将宇航员送上月球的计划,尽管许多人怀疑它是否能负担得起这笔费用。

In the United States, which sent 24 astronauts toward the moon from 1968 to 1972, priorities shift with the whims of Congress and presidents. But NASA in February was suddenly pushed to pick up its pace when Vice President Mike Pence announced the goal of putting Americans on the moon again by 2024, four years ahead of the previous schedule.

在1968年至1972年间将24名宇航员送往月球的美国,各项事务的优先级会随着国会和总统心血来潮的想法而转变。但在2月,美国国家航空航天局(NASA)突然被推着加快了步伐,那时副总统迈克·彭斯(Mike Pence)宣布了2024年美国人将再次登上月球的目标,这比之前的时间表提前了4年。

“NASA is highly motivated,” Jim Bridenstine, the former Oklahoma congressman and Navy pilot picked by President Donald Trump to be the agency’s administrator, said in an interview. “We now have a very clear direction.”

“NASA很有冲劲,”被特朗普总统挑选担任该局局长的前俄克拉荷马州国会议员、海军飞行员吉姆·布里登斯廷(Jim Bridenstine)在一次摘访中说。“我们现在有一个非常明确的方向。”

For India, reaching the moon would highlight its technological advances. China would establish itself as a world power off planet. For the United States and NASA, the moon is now an obvious stop along the way to Mars.

对印度来说,登月将突出其技术进步。中国则将把自己建成地球外的世界强国。对美国和美国国家航空航天局来说,月球现在是前往火星路途中一个明确的停靠站。

The fascination with Earth’s celestial companion is not limited to nation-states. A bevy of companies has lined up in hopes of winning NASA contracts to deliver experiments and instruments to the moon. Blue Origin, the rocket company started by Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon, is developing a large lander that it hopes to sell to NASA for taking cargo — and astronauts — to the moon’s surface.

对这个地球天体同伴的迷恋不仅仅限于民族国家。许多公司都已排队等候期望获得美国国家航空航天局的合同,以便向月球递送实验和仪器。由亚马逊(Amazon)创始人兼首席执行官杰夫·贝佐斯(Jeff Bezos)创办的火箭公司蓝色起源(Blue Origin)正在研发一种大型着陆器,它期望能将其卖给NASA,以便将货物和宇航员送往月球表面。

Eyes on other prizes

关注其他有价值项目

For three decades after the end of the Apollo program, few thought much about the moon。 The United States had beaten the Soviet Union in the moon race。 After Apollo 17, the last visit by NASA astronauts in 1972, the Soviets sent a few more robotic spacecraft to the moon, but they soon also lost interest in further exploration there。

阿波罗项目结束后的三十年间,很少有人想来月球。美国已经在登月竞赛中击败了苏联。在1972年美国国家航空航天局宇航员最后一次登月的阿波罗17号行动后,苏联又向月球发送了几艘机器人航天器,但很快也对进一步探索那里失去了爱好。

NASA in those years turned its attention to building space shuttles and then the International Space Station. Its robotic explorers headed farther out, exploring Mars more intensely, as well as the asteroid belt and the solar system’s outer worlds.

那些年间,美国国家航空航天局把注意力转向建造航天飞机以及后来的国际空间站。它的机器人探测器来达了更远的地方,更密集地探索了火星,以及小行星带和太阳系以外的世界。

Bridenstine says one of the main reasons for accelerating a return to the moon now is to reduce the chances of politicians changing their minds again. A 2024 landing would occur near the end of the second term of Trump’s presidency, if he wins reelection next year.

布里登斯廷称,如今之所以加速回来月球计划,主要是为减少政客们再度改变主意的可能性。2024年登月的目标可能会发生在特朗普总统第二个任期接近尾声之时,如果他能赢得明年大选的话。

“I think it’s sad that we have not been back to the moon since 1972,” Bridenstine said. “There have been efforts in the past. They’ve never materialized.”

“我认为,我们自1972年来还没有回来登月计划令人遗憾,”布里登斯廷说。“过去曾做过努力。但从未实现。”

NASA has named the new moon program Artemis, after Apollo’s sister in Greek mythology. Its first mission would be a crewless test of the Space Launch System, a big rocket already in development. It is scheduled for late 2020, although many expect the launch to slip to 2021.

美国国家航空航天局已用希腊神话中阿波罗的姐姐阿尔忒弥斯(Artemis)命名新的登月计划。它的首次行动将是对建造中的名为太空发射系统(Space Launch System)的巨型火箭进行无人测试。行动计划于2020年底进行,尽管许多人估量此次发射将延后至2021年。

The second flight — the first with astronauts aboard — would zip around the moon, but not land, in 2022.

第二次飞行暨首次载人行动将于2022年绕月快速飞行,但不着陆。

On the third flight, in 2024, astronauts would first travel to Gateway, an outpost in orbit around the moon, and from there take another spacecraft to the lunar surface, somewhere near its South Pole.

2024年第三次飞行时,宇航员将首次前往月球轨道上的前哨“门户”,并从那里使用另一个航天器前往月球南极附近某处地表。

Bridenstine, echoed by other NASA officials, has repeatedly said that Artemis would take the “first woman and the next man” to the moon。

布里登斯廷和其他NASA官员都曾表示,阿尔忒弥斯将把“首名女性以及又一名男性”送上月球。

So why go back?

为何回来登月计划

A primary impetus for a moon stampede now? The discovery that there is water there, especially ice deep within polar craters where the sun never shines.

现在竞相登月的主要动力何在?已经发觉月球上有水,特别是太阳照射不来的极地陨坑深处有冰。

That is a potentially invaluable source of drinking water for future astronauts visiting the moon, but also for water that can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen.

对未来访问月球的宇航员而言,这可能是宝贵的潜在饮用水源,但也可用来分解出氢气和氧气。

The oxygen could provide breathable air; oxygen and hydrogen could also be used as rocket propellant. Thus, the moon, or a refueling station in orbit around the moon, could serve as a stop for spacecraft to refill their tanks before heading out into the solar system.

氧气可供唤吸;氧气和氢气还可用作火箭的推进燃料。因此,月球或月球轨道上的燃料补给站可作为航天器的停靠站,在深入太阳系前为油箱加油。

“If we can do it, the Gateway becomes a fuel depot,” Bridenstine said.

“如果我们能做来,门户会成为燃料库,”布里登斯廷说。

A key turning point in the revival of interest in the moon came in 1998 from Lunar Prospector, a small, inexpensive NASA orbiter。 Alan Binder, a planetary scientist who worked at Lockheed Martin, conceived of Lunar Prospector as a way to follow up on hints of water ice in the shadowed craters and to demonstrate how to execute space missions at bargain basement prices。

人们对月球复新产生爱好的关键转折点是在1998年,NASA的小型廉价轨道飞行器月球探勘者(Lunar Prospector)发射升空。曾在洛克希德·马丁公司工作的行星科学家艾伦·宾德(Alan Binder)认为,月球探勘者是用来追踪暗影环形山中是否有冰,也是用来演示如何以低廉价格执行太空任务的。

In 2005, NASA rolled out plans for Constellation — a fleet of new and bigger rockets, capsules and landers it planned to build. Michael Griffin, then NASA’s administrator, described them as “Apollo on steroids.”

2005年,NASA推出了星座计划——一个由全新、更大的火箭、太空舱和着陆器组成的舰队。时任NASA局长的迈克尔·格里芬(Michael Griffin)将其描述为“食了兴奋剂的阿波罗”。

But over the next decade, the moon ambitions flagged again.

但在接下来的十年里,登月雄心再次受挫。

Delays and cost overruns plagued Constellation. The administration of President Barack Obama, who was inaugurated at the dawn of the Great Recession, canceled it in 2010 and set a different course, to aim for an asteroid instead.

延误和成本超支困扰着星座几乎。贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)在大衰退之初就职,他的政府于2010年取消了该计划,转而制定了一条不同的路线,以一个小行星为目标。

Then the Trump administration changed NASA’s course again。 Asteroids were out and the moon was back as NASA’s next destination。

然后特朗普政府再次改变了NASA的路线。不再以小行星为目标,月球再次成为NASA的下一个目的地。

Making moon money

赚月亮钱

As these administrations wavered, entrepreneurs had begun brainstorming possible business ventures on the moon.

在政府摇摆不定的同时,企业家们开始集思广益,考虑在月球上进行商业经营的可能性。

In 2007, the X Prize Foundation announced a $20 million grand prize, bankrolled by Google, that would be awarded to the first private team that could put a robotic lander on the moon。

2007年,“X奖”基金会宣布了一项由谷歌资助的2000万美元大奖,将授予第一个能够将机器人着陆器送上月球的私资团队。

The competing teams found the challenge much more financially and technically difficult than anticipated。 Even after the deadline was extended several times, the prize expired last year without a winner。

参赛队伍发觉这项挑战在财务和技术上都比预期要困难得多。甚至在最后期限被延长了几次之后,该奖项直至去年来期时都没有产生获奖者。

But while no company could claim the jackpot, many have not given up on the moon as a business opportunity。

虽然没有一家公司能赢得头奖,但许多公司并没有舍弃把登月变为商机。

The payoffs of the moon could include helium-3 mined from the lunar soil, potentially a fuel for future fusion reactors, although practical fusion reactors are still decades away.

登月的回报可能包括从月球土壤中开摘的氦-3,这可能是未来聚变反应堆的燃料,尽管实际的聚变反应堆还需要几十年的时间才会出现。

There could be an opening for companies that would ship the ashes of loved ones to the moon as a memorial. And some private companies could carry payloads for scientific research. For instance, the far side of the moon could be ideal for optical and radio telescopes because they would not face earthly interference there.

将亲人骨灰运往月球作为一种悼念的公司可能会有机会。一些私资公司可以为科学研究携带载荷。例如,月球远面可能是光学望远镜和射电望远镜的理想位置,因为那里不会受来地球的干扰。

With these potential businesses, the Lunar X Prize may turn out to be a success, even though there was no winner.

有了这些潜在的业务,就算没有赢家,月球X奖也可能是个成功。

In the past, NASA would have designed and launched its own spacecraft to accomplish those tasks. The agency had started down that path with Resource Prospector, a rover that would drill a yard into the soil and extract substances like hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water.

在过去,NASA会设计并发射自己的航天器来完成这些任务。为此该机构已经开始了资源勘探者(Resource Prospector)计划,这是一辆探测车,可以在土壤中下钻一码的深度,提取氢、氦、氮、二氧化碳和水等物质。

But last year, NASA canceled Resource Prospector, and it will instead pay commercial companies to take its payloads there. Many of the businesses are either former Google Lunar X Prize competitors or companies taking advantage of technology developed by those teams.

但去年,NASA取消了资源探勘者计划,转而向商业公司付费,让他们把载荷送来那里。许多企业是前谷歌月球X奖的参赛者,或者是利用这些团队开发技术的公司。

The fault is not in our stars

我们的星星没有缺憾

NASA’s efforts to reach the moon by 2024 will depend on whether Congress funds them. NASA has asked for an additional $1.6 billion for the 2020 fiscal year, and Bridenstine told CNN last month that the accelerated schedule might cost a total of $20 billion to $30 billion, raising worries that the money might be diverted from other parts of NASA to pay for Artemis.

NASA能否在2024年之前来达月球,这将取决于国会是否资助他们。NASA已要求在2020财政年度增加16亿美元,布里登斯廷上个月告诉CNN,加速计划可能总共要花费200亿来300亿美元,人们担心NASA可能会把其他部门的钱转来登月计划。

Bridenstine now says the price tag may not be as high. “I think it could be well less than $20 billion,” he said. “I say that, because a lot of our commercial partners are willing to put their own money into it.”

布里登斯廷现在表示,成本可能没有那么高。“我认为可能远远少于200亿美元,”他说。“我这么说,是因为很多商业合作伙伴都情愿投入自己的资金。”

Without support from both Republicans and Democrats, the moon program could stumble again, he said.

他说,如果没有共和党和民主党的支持,登月计划可能会再次受挫。

“My goal is to make sure that we’re looking at a very balanced portfolio and we don’t step on any political land mines, which has been the history of the agency,” Bridenstine said. “It should be, in my opinion, bipartisan and apolitical.”

“我的目标是确保我们有一个非常均衡的项目组合,我们不会踩来任何政治地雷,这是本机构的传统,”布里登斯廷说。“在我看来,它应该是两党合作的,不涉及政治的。”

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