If humans ever move to the moon, we'll need a steady supply of the two most basic elements for life: Sunlight and water. The lunar poles have long been prime candidates for settlement, because they're exposed to sunlight almost all the time and because for at least three years now, scientists have known they contain water.
Would-be moon miners will need good lawyers if they want to keep the lunar resources they’re harvesting, according to space policy experts. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 appears to permit extraction of lunar water and other resources, but it’s not clear who would own the materials once they’re extracted.
When NASA "bombed" the moon back in October there was a lot of fanfare leading up to a visually anticlimactic live Webcast of the event. But a series of papers publishing tomorrow in Science pack some data that make up for the less-than-exciting event.
NASA's moon-smashing mission may not have provided a huge show for the folks on Earth, but now there's sweet vindication for scientists. The plume of lunar debris kicked up from ancient lunar crater kicked up 24 gallons of water, LCROSS mission staff reported today.
We waited, we watched, and for the most part, we were disappointed. But the lack of visual fireworks during last week's "moon bombing" doesn't mean the mission was a scientific dud. Though the empty Centaur rocket stage that crashed near the moon's south pole didn't throw a massive plume of lunar debris up into the sunlight as researchers wanted, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter snapped some images of the crash site that shed some light on the situation anyhow.
NASA's double sledgehammer shot to the moon succeeded early this morning when an empty rocket stage and a lunar probe each crashed into separate craters. But the host of telescopes and other instruments pointed at the impact sites did not immediately spot huge plumes of lunar debris.
The harvest moon--which came a couple weeks late this year, on Oct. 4--has long allowed farmers to gather their crops late into the night, using moonlight as a beacon.
Someday, the moon might yield a harvest of its own, thanks to a natural supply of water. A NASA probe is set to crash into the moon this week in search of that potential bounty. Here's how you can watch it from here on Earth.
Robert Heinlein got it right when he dubbed Earth's moon a harsh mistress. NASA's lunar orbiter examined some craters near the lunar south pole that never see sunlight, and may actually represent the coldest places in the solar system -- not to mention reservoirs of precious water ice.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has conducted an ongoing survey of temperatures on the moon's surface through its Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment. The temperatures in the craters can dip as low as -397 degrees F, the lowest temperatures recorded anywhere in the solar system.
In the 1960 cartoon "Hits and Missiles," Popeye the Sailor Man accidentally crashes a rocket into a moon made of cheese.
Popeye soon realizes he needs more fuel, "so we can gets back to Oyth," and he goes looking for help.
When a group of NASA scientists deliberately crashes a rocket into the moon this summer, they'll be looking for fuel, too -- in a way.