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. Data collected by the moon-bombing LCROSS mission and the orbiting Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show the dark corners of the lunar south pole harbor more water than some arid regions on Earth.
By astronomical standards, that's huge. For a long time many scientists thought the moon was completely dry. But it turns out the soil at the bottom of the Cabeus crater is composed of about 5.6 percent water ice and could hold as much as 8.5 percent in places. By comparison, the Sahara Desert sands hold just 2-5 percent water.
The greater meaning behind all of this, of course, is that there is a potential source of water on the moon, and that removes a huge technical obstacle when you start thinking about things like permanently manned moon bases or waypoints for future trips into deep space. And abundant water – relative to expectations, anyhow – isn't the only thing LCROSS found in the Cabeus crater. Analysis of the plume from the moon bombing showed the presence of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, mercury, calcium, and magnesium.
Those elements might not be abundant across the moon – judging from some of the materials found, Cabeus could be a comet impact site – but it is certainly heartening to know that there are potential resources there that could be exploited for long-term living in space. And, of course, the most important of those is the water, which is what LCROSS went looking for in the first place.
Water on the moon isn't just potentially drinkable. It could be harvested to grow plants in a future self-sustaining moon base, split into hydrogen and oxygen to power a generator for such a habitable environment, or likewise be used to create fuel for rockets, either to return to Earth or to top off the tanks for a mission beyond the moon. The NASA authorization bill that was just signed into law by President Obama shifts NASA's research emphasis from the moon to Mars, but it might just turn out that you can use one to get to the other.
We are way over due to step up to the plate.
"The Lunar surface, been there done that," reminds me of what they initially found there : traces of water in the moon rocks passes off as an earth contamination as a result the moon is too baron of water to have a colony. 2010 water everywhere on the moon and is in high concentrations here...
Mars Viking missions, soil to acidic to sustain life, 2 out of three sample's prooved that life didn't exist on Mars one experiment was inconclusive, must have been a chemical reaction. Years later, Mars Phoenix Lander science team - "all the necessary ingredients to sustain life as we know it is at the Phoenix Landing site. The soil is more alkaline than acidic."
Our ignorance of being 100 percent right held us hostage to river-rats for too many years. It has led us to be ignorant of the higher probability of being right because the naysayer's wants 100 percent proof even though the evidence and logic is there that gives us a much higher probability of being right. The naysayers chance of being right, as in Texas Holdem on the river card, may be lower than 2 percent but we fold anyway under their bluff. For years we didn't do the science that is necessary to prove them wrong.
With this new evidence it is about time we stop talking about it and do something about it. We have been held hostage by loud mouth bluffing river-rats for too many years....
"split into hydrogen and oxygen to power a generator"
You need electricity to split hydrogen and oxygen so I don't think it would be used to produce power with a generator.
>split into hydrogen and oxygen to power a generator
Wow I really didn't think it was possible to think any less of you clay but clearly you strive to amaze me. Your inability to comprehend science must be legendary. Who did you have to sleep with to get a job that most high school students would be more competent at than you.
I just read one innuendo after another.
Jerks! You use solar energy to split the H2O into it's component atoms that you can then store for later use! There isn't constant light everywhere on the moon ya know. And that would be way easier then lugging batteries all the way to the moon >.< I'm not even going to bother describing the multitude of uses for that kind of energy solution.
Grrrr. Sometimes... So negative. Use your minds to come up with solutions! Not just to find ways to point accusatory fingers!
Well, to be fair, fuel cells would be much less cool on the moon than on Earth. Without an atmosphere, you have to carry the oxygen around, too, which means you lose most of the weight advantage.
And incidentally, Clay gets paid for a sense of style. The science isn't *always* 100%, but the humor is spot-on. = )
Weight advantage? Why not combine space suits with newly improved exo-skeleton/robotic body/whatever to carry huge weights. They could juice them with fuel cells and combine pleasure and gain :)
Anyhow, current spacesuits are very clumsy, can hurt astronauts (finger nails problem) etc. First fix that, then we go to moon/mars trip :)
I find that when someone posts on a website like this bashing the writers they probably work at Walmart or McDonalds and hate their life. If you have reading things here STOP COMING! Its really that easy. Although if you did that you would not get to be a whiney little drama filled BIT**
"If you have reading things here STOP COMING".
I am sure most people that post "have reading things here" does that make us all Walmart employees?
A-rock, your so right :)
Solar may provide all of the lunar colonists needs but a colony on the moon will have a night about two weeks long!
and when your in the dark for two weeks a hydrogen generator starts looking so good :)
I think what everyone is missing here is that this means that there will be plenty of crushed ice for your favorite ice-blended cocktail.
A-Rock has it right ... Crack the water with solar and you have "capacitence", for (almost) everything humans need ... Water ... O2 ... H2.
ALSO, A mile(s)-high solar tower (polar axis) could be constructed of telescoping carbon scaffolding (tent poles) and could even be positioned (rotated like a radar) manually, 28 times per month.
SPACE ELEVATOR ? The moon is made for that! Consider Lunar-stationary orbital physics. No weather. Light gravity.
(equatorial, of course).
E/M (Railgun) launchers and arrestors ? A cynch. Lunar orbits can be so low that you have to duck, not to get hit. (almost).
I am guessing we would be hauling Nitrogen (or related compounds) and refined, rare-earth, minerals, from Earth, to the moon (for "Air" and fertilizer and fab-doping).
I also speculate that hydroponics will not be enough to scrub CO2, without artificial "scrubbers" (re-breathers).
Would be nice to be able to reclaim both the O2 and carbon, from CO2.
There should also be PLENTY of nickel-iron meteor fragments (found with commom detector coils, which are semi-refined (smelted)in their natural state.
had to log in just to correct you... the moon is not a place for a space elevator; such an elevator would have to be in geosynchronous orbit, and the moon is tidally locked.
Someone more interested than me do the calcualtions on a tether between the moon and the earth, assuming the same face faces the earth at all times. ie: how long would it need to be for the pull of the earth to overcome the pull of the moon? probably times a safety factor of 1.5 or 2.
Wouldn't it be nice to not have to land? Just dock and let it ride down the tether? However, if the base is in the pole and this is on the equator facing the earth that places it some 1600 miles away from base camp... hmm quite a trek.