An observational approach to Planetary Sciences and exploration from Earth applies to a quite limited number of targets, but most of these are spatially complex, and exhibit variability and evolution on a number of temporal scales which lie within the scope of possible observations. Advancing our understanding of the underlying physics requires the study of interactions between the various elements of such systems, and also requires study of the comparative response of both a given object to various conditions and of comparable objects to similar conditions. These studies are best conducted in 'campaigns', i.e. comprehensive programs combining simultaneous coherent observations of every interacting piece of the puzzle. The requirements include both imaging and spectroscopy over a wide spectral range, from UV to IR. While temporal simultaneity of operation in various modes is a key feature, these observations are also conducted over extended periods of time. The moon is a prime site offering long unbroken observation times and high positional stability, observations at small angular separation from the sun, comparative studies of planet Earth, and valuable technical advantages. A lunar observatory should become a central piece of any coherent set of planetary missions, supplying in-situ explorations with the synoptic and comparative data necessary for proper advance planning, correlative observations during the active exploratory phase, and follow-up studies of the target body or of related objects.
LUNAR AND PLANETARY EXPLORATION
Advances in Space Research (ISSN 0273-1177); 14; 6; p. (6)143-(6)158