MOVING FORWARD IN THE BUOYANT LUNAR TIDE
For more than a decade now, exploration of the Moon has been highly international in character with the US, ESA, Japan, India and China all playing significant continuing roles. In addition to significant assessment of the surface and interior by geological and geophysical experiments, modern spectroscopy has played a central role in characterizing the surface in exquisite detail, producing both unexpected discoveries as well as characterizing and mapping an array of known and unknown rock and soil types across the globe (e.g., global hydration of the surface; recognition that the lunar upper mantle is apparently dominated by low-Ca pyroxene instead of olivine). In the near future Russia, Korea, Israel, Canada, and others along with commercial/private companies will join in implementing additional serious lunar science and exploration missions.
Much activity will focus on the Moon throughout the next decade. Not only because of the common scientific environment and history of the Earth and Moon, but also because the accessible Moon is poised to play a central role enabling exploration as humans become an integral part of what is a long-term evolving exploration endeavor: to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.