Researchers believe a permanent moon base would be crucial if astronauts were to be sent to Mars

A permanent base on the moon would be an important stepping stone to allow humans to explore Mars in person.  Scientists are currently working on technologies that may one day help towards the final goal of a moon base.   Putting a permanent base on the moon will not be as easy as portrayed in many science fiction movies:  along with not having an atmosphere, the astronauts will have to deal with extreme temperature swings, blankets of dust that ruin supplies and cosmic rays are just several examples of the dangers that await.

"It's deep in the future before we go there," said architect Larry Toups, head of habitation systems for NASA's Advanced Projects Office. "But it's like going on a camping trip and buying a new car. You want to make sure you have a trailer hitch if you need it."

The Swedish are also trying to build a self-sustaining colony that will allow astronauts to spend time on the moon.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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