×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA Explores the Moon's Water/Oxygen Deposits

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the not-a-very-big-pool dept.

Moon 73

destinyland writes "NASA's LCross mission will now test whether the moon's hydrogen and oxygen deposits could be converted into air, water, and even fuel. A dramatic crash by the rocket's upper stage will blast 200 tons of moon rock up 10 kilometers from a dark crater — where its constitution can be measured by LCross's instruments. (NASA predicts 'a number of different ways that we'll be able to create water from whatever form of lunar hydrogen we find' on the moon, noting recent missions have already confirmed the presence of oxygen in moon rocks, while the sun delivers a constant stream of hydrogen.) Carrying water to the moon costs $100,000 a kilogram, so these experiments could be a crucial step to getting more people on the moon."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

73 comments

Moon (0, Offtopic)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210509)

Did they blow it up yet?

I demand a live high def feed when it happens.

Re:Moon (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29210553)

It's cheese. How do you blow up cheese?

Re:Moon (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223297)

I don't know, but I imagine that once that's done it will probably rain toasted cheese for weeks. I love toasted cheese. The question is, where do we get enough bread to go with it?

Re:Moon (1, Offtopic)

Divebus (860563) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210633)

They'll find large quantities of hydrazane and oxygen in what gets tossed up... and aluminum.

blog (4, Informative)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210537)

The mission has a blog (with feed) [nasa.gov] where they reported an anomaly [nasa.gov] two days ago.

To the moon before Mars (3, Insightful)

antirelic (1030688) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210959)

I'm all for space travel (I think this is one of the few useful things a government agency does well), but like many people here have said many times before, we need to do it in ways that make sense and that we can build on. What started out with a quick dabble in LEO was slung shot to a space race to the moon. While some of the technology that came from that competition (mind you, many products were developed outside of the space program and adapted TO the space program where it became famous) has found great uses, the push to the moon did not yield much outside of the international political arena.

With that said, there has been a correction. The nations of the earth have begun to utilize low earth orbit: satellites (for various uses). This is the number 1 use of LEO. As time goes on and people begin to find ways to exploit LEO there will be more challenges to face (advantages and disadvantages to be gained). This analysis of the moon shows us how far we have come and how far we have to go. The moon is close, and cheapest heavenly body to get to. If we cant put and maintain a base there, how can we expect to exploit asteroids or even attempt to wrestle with landing and take offs on other planets (for example: tag: gettomars).

Every mistake made provides an opportunity to improve and do it again. Its best we learn (and we will learn many things) trying to land and establish outposts on the moon before we go any further, and this will likely be the case for the next several generations (unless some crazy breakthrough in physics occurs that results in easy and safe departure from the earths surface).

Go NASA!

Re:To the moon before Mars (2, Funny)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 4 years ago | (#29212147)

unless some crazy breakthrough in physics occurs that results in easy and safe departure from the earths surface

I think that is pretty much the key right there. It takes a tremendous amount of energy, calculation, and resources to life a tiny payload into space. We should be devoting more resources on cheaper and more economical ways to get into orbit...ie space elevators, assisted launch, etc. That makes it much easier to estabilsh space stations and you could construct spacecraft that rely on nuclear-based propulsion and launch them from these stations.

And then you start colonies in space and on the moon, and eventually there is war between the colony inhabitants and Earth, and we build giant robots and let psychic 16-year-old kids pilot them and beat the crap out of eachother and save humanity from itself in the process. Until of course the remnants of the defeated faction finish rebuilding in the asteroid belt and come back to kick all our asses. But such is life. For anime characters living in space, anyway.

Re:To the moon before Mars (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#29212173)

Stepping back to serious land, if we're going to go to Mars, we need to colonize the Moon first, and perhaps actually work on a bit of terraforming (mooniforming? luniforming?) just to see what we can, and can't, make work.

Besides, if we can get it properly set, then we can send all the old folks to the moon and they can walk around in lightened gravity. Just imagine, our satellite turned into a rest home for the elderly ;)

Re:To the moon before Mars (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29213675)

You can't lunaform the moon because it is already moonish. You can't terraform the moon because it can't hold an atmosphere.

Re:To the moon before Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29214763)

There is lots of silica on the moon, silica makes glass, with glass you make a giant dome. In the dome you put an atmosphere. Why do you have a problem with this, are you scared of living on the moon?

Re:To the moon before Mars (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29219263)

You're not getting it. The costs of what you or anyone else have proposed far outweigh any credible gains. Manned space exploration is pointless and colossally expensive. All the dubious dreams expressed in this thread, namely mining asteroids, building infrastructure for Mars colonization in some distant future, etc. can be far more readily and cheaply achieved with unmanned missions. Humans will have no compelling role to play for at least a century. It is just too expensive, unsustainable, and tangential to any desirable short and medium term practical outcomes.

Re:To the moon before Mars (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29222183)

You're not getting it. The costs of what you or anyone else have proposed far outweigh any credible gains. Manned space exploration is pointless and colossally expensive. All the dubious dreams expressed in this thread, namely mining asteroids, building infrastructure for Mars colonization in some distant future, etc. can be far more readily and cheaply achieved with unmanned missions. Humans will have no compelling role to play for at least a century. It is just too expensive, unsustainable, and tangential to any desirable short and medium term practical outcomes.

What do you think it cost to get New York City built? Do you think the governments of the Netherlands and Great Britain gave a concern about that cost when they endorsed the initial settlements into North America?

I'll admit that it costs a whole bunch of money to send something from the surface of the Earth and to put that onto the surface of the Moon. In 1620 it was also an incredible expense to send all of the materials and food supplies to build homes and provisions to Boston. Oh, wait, they didn't do that, did they? The materials used for developing North America came from... North America. The same will be done on the Moon.

In terms of being able to get to the Moon in the first place, it shouldn't cost nearly as much as it cost NASA during the Apollo program... and certainly as much as NASA is claiming it should cost for Constellation. A current cost-competitive estimate for performing a circum-lunar flight (duplicating the Apollo 8 experience) has been quoted at USD $100 million (by Space Adventures) per seat. Going from lunar orbit to the surface isn't really all that much more expensive. And that is using strictly current technology and launch vehicles that have been developed at government expense and have no real market studies or production costs from genuine commercial competition that would certainly drive that figure down quite a bit. Yeah, that is still expensive, but it at least gives a ballpark figure to compare to.

I'll admit, however, that there is a serious lack of business ideas that legitimately pay off the return on investment for a private company to go to the Moon... even if you ignore current space law or presume that the legal environment will allow a private company to own a hunk of the Moon for mining or other commercial purposes. No, the "Lunar Embassy" does not count and will be promptly ignored.

Assuming that kinetic energy launchers can be built on the Moon instead of requiring chemical rockets (for bulk cargo extraction), the cost per kilo for materials sent to a place like lunar orbit or the Lagrangian points could be at around $100/kg. At that price, you could certainly afford to engage in quite a bit of extra-terrestrial construction. That is the infrastructure that is necessary to get anywhere else in the Solar System for a relatively cheap price, and what can ultimately make all of this affordable for ordinary people to get into space in large numbers. $100/kg is cheap enough to send minerals other than He3 from the Moon to the Earth and make a profit when the stuff lands on the Earth.

BTW, in response to the parent post you were responding to, building a greenhouse on the Moon wouldn't be all that expensive... using existing resources that are already found on the Moon. Carbon certainly exists on the Moon in large quantities, as does Oxygen. The primary "missing" components are Nitrogen and Hydrogen that could sustain life in a major way, of which finding substantial quantities of water-ice on the Moon fills in one of those crucial missing elements.

More to the point, this is a matter of money and engineering, not the creation of new physics. Usually if something is possible and there is a desire for somebody to do an activity, a way will eventually be found for that thing to happen. It is that point which was made, including the ability to "terraform" at least portions of the Moon.

Re:To the moon before Mars (1)

Dodder (1410959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29217121)

Yes, serious land, let's get all the old people off the planet! Seriously :)

Re:To the moon before Mars (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29219281)

How much would it cost? How long would it take? What segments of society can and would pay for it? What are you smoking? Can I have some?

Re:To the moon before Mars (1)

Dodder (1410959) | more than 4 years ago | (#29217065)

No kidding! I bet they haven't even considered all of the complications of taking off and landing on getto mars.

"Excuse me. How do I get back into space?"
"Yo fuck yo mamma!"
"Thank you. Thank you very much."
- Clark Griswold, trying to get to Martian Walley World

Re:To the moon before Mars (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29220675)

I would have to agree with the sentiment of going to the Moon first. We already have the raw technology to get there, and truth be told... nearly everywhere else in the Solar System except for Mars is going to need the kinds of technology that are needed for serious exploration and development of the surface of the Moon.

As far as being close by, that is all that much more of a rationale for going first to the Moon. If there is any kind of emergency for somebody on the Moon, it will be by far and away easier to return to the Earth or be able to send a "rescue mission" to deal with the problems that would happen there. For example, if something akin to the Apollo 13 flight happened to astronauts while on their way to Mars, they would simply be dead. Apollo 13 was close enough to be able to improvise a "new mission" and somehow make it back to the Earth.

Assuming that there are regular flights going to and from the Moon, it would in fact be easier to send somebody who is needing desperate medical treatment or has a unique need to get back home from the Moon than it would be from Antarctica.

And in spite of what some may say, there is a whole lot more to learn about the Moon by doing a serious scientific investigation *at the moon*. This investigation needs to be done by scientists that are there, and not some tele-operated robots. Oh, some tele-operated devices can and should be used as well, but that is in compliment with and not in substitution of manned exploration as well. Besides simply the entire field of "lunar geology" (whatever that term may ultimately be called), there is also studies on what materials can work the best on the Moon, how to build more effective space suits (the Apollo space suits nearly disintegrated after 3 days of use), and the health effects of living in a partial gravitational environment. This is discounting projects like radio astronomy from the "far side" of the Moon that have absolutely no other equivalent.

Get well soon (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210549)

LCROSS had some issues last weekend [spaceflightnow.com] which caused it to lose a good portion of its fuel. The mission is down to the wire and may not make it. If it does, it will be because of the skill and dedication of the NASA team.

The data they collect from the impact, from LRO, earth and space telescopes and LCROSS itself, will provide the missing piece of the puzzle for Lunar ISRU. Up until now, the promise of ice on the Moon has been a distant "yeah, we'll do that one day" proposition, but with this data NASA will finally be able to do study on what kinda of equipment will be required to process the ice and produce potable water, oxygen and rocket fuel (most likely methane) and that will drive the design of Lunar exploration systems.

Re:Get well soon (2, Informative)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 4 years ago | (#29211047)

[...] what kinda of equipment will be required to process the ice and produce potable water, oxygen and rocket fuel [...]

One interesting thing mentioned in the article is that they can already produce oxygen from lunar minerals. The sun is sending a nice stream of hydrogen via the solar winds. This can be combined to produce potable water without having to process any ice whatsoever.

The question is whether it would "better" to melt the ice and filter it into something drinkable or to make the water from hydrogen and oxygen.

Re:Get well soon (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29211099)

That's true, but there's a consensus that processing ice will be much easier than processing regolith.. the question remains, is it really ice? And how pure is it? Is it mixed with regolith? Even in those worst situations it'll likely still be easier to purify dirty snow than melt regolith in solar furnaces. The important thing is, different materials require different strategies and that means different equipment.. they have to design everything and be 95% sure it'll work before sending it up.

On the other hand, virtually no-one is talking about scouting for high purity metals (say, from asteroid impacts) and the ease at which processing those ores would be compared to processing common regolith. It's not that the payoff is less, it's just that this kind of far off vision is stigmatized and if you want to keep getting funding you have to reign in your enthusiasm.
 

Re:Get well soon (3, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29211419)

The thing is, so far, we haven't found ice. Or any relevant quantities of hydrogen in any form. The concept of harvesting hydrogen from the solar wind seems silly; the solar wind at 1AU averages about 4 atoms per cubic centimeter. At an average 350km/s speed, this means a collector could gather no more than 0.7 milligrams per square meter per year. At 100% efficiency with no celestial shielding of the solar wind of any kind and with a heliostat. And not all of that would be hydrogen.

Re:Get well soon (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29215761)

Or any relevant quantities of hydrogen in any form.

Yes, we have. Other missions have detected hydrogen. As I understand it, if it's distributed throughout the regolith, then it'll be difficult to harvest, but if it's concentrated as ice, then it won't be difficult to harvest. In other words, we don't know how it's concentrated and hence how difficult it'll be to extract.

The concept of harvesting hydrogen from the solar wind seems silly; the solar wind at 1AU averages about 4 atoms per cubic centimeter. At an average 350km/s speed, this means a collector could gather no more than 0.7 milligrams per square meter per year. At 100% efficiency with no celestial shielding of the solar wind of any kind and with a heliostat. And not all of that would be hydrogen.

As I recall, about three quarters of the solar wind is hydrogen. The other quarter is virtually all helium, which is also useful. Whether harvesting roughly a quarter kilogram (halved for lunar night) of hydrogen per square meter per year (and considerably more during times of high solar activity) is worthwhile or not depends on how expensive hydrogen gets. My view is that it'll be trumped by high altitude scooping from the Earth's atmosphere or scooping the solar wind from much closer to the Sun (as you get closer, the solar wind becomes both much denser and somewhat faster).

Re:Get well soon (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29219701)

Yes, we have. Other missions have detected hydrogen.

Cite. The Apollo astronauts' samples yield hydrogen in ppb quantities. Lunar Prospector suggested there might be some at the poles, but subsequent followup attempts to find water or any other hydrogen-bearing minerals have come up [parabolicarc.com] empty [moondaily.com] .

As I understand it, if it's distributed throughout the regolith

Yes. In *ppb quantities*. Completely impractical to extract.

As I recall, about three quarters of the solar wind is hydrogen. The other quarter is virtually all helium, which is also useful.

For what, making your voice sound funny? The main use for helium in rocketry is as a pressurant, but on the moon, there are much better approaches than that.

And don't get into the Helium-3 fusion pipe dream. :P

Whether harvesting roughly a quarter kilogram (halved for lunar night) of hydrogen per square meter per year

*MILLI*gram, not kilogram. A quarter *milligram*. A quarter kilogram per year would take a collector 100'x100' across, *assuming* no celestial or collection losses, no night, and a heliostat tracker. And a quarter kilogram is nothing.

Re:Get well soon (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29219787)

I'm sorry; I misspoke. 100'x100' would be a quarter *gram* per year. A quarter kilogram per year would take a 1km by 1km collector. Again, assuming your mythical 100% efficiency/no night/no interference/heliostat setup.

It's just not realistic.

Re:Get well soon (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29225915)

I'm sorry, but I was referring to collectors of that size. Sure it's unrealistic now. Doesn't mean it'll be unrealistic later. I can see ways that would be very mass efficient. For example, an elevated grid of charged wire. You could have a small negative voltage region in the middle of a several hundred kilometer across positive voltage region. I bet the solar wind density could be increased by a number of orders of magnitude, if you did that. A harvesting efficiency of 1% across a 100 by 100 kilometer grid would mean roughly 20-30 kg of hydrogen per year. Natural features like craters or crevices might create regions with higher solar wind intensities.

Re:Get well soon (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29226907)

Right. Build a grid the size of Connecticut to get 50 pounds of hydrogen -- not enough to get a model rocket off the lunar surface. FYI, your suggestion wouldn't work because solar wind isn't unform energy. The perfect correction for one energy particle would just scatter a particle of different energy.

No, craters and crevices will not increase solar wind density.

It's just a stupid idea.

Re:Get well soon (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29230367)

Right. Build a grid the size of Connecticut to get 50 pounds of hydrogen -- not enough to get a model rocket off the lunar surface.

It scales. The Moon is a lot bigger than Connecticut.

FYI, your suggestion wouldn't work because solar wind isn't unform energy. The perfect correction for one energy particle would just scatter a particle of different energy.

Perfect correction? I'm just interested in capturing positively charged ions (most of the solar wind is ions as I understand it). As long as the grid is electrically neutral at a distance, it will work on anything positively charged. There's no need to "tune" it to a particular energy.

No, craters and crevices will not increase solar wind density.

Boy, I'm tempted to toss in a hypocritical "cite?" remark here. But you seem pretty knowledgeable on the solar wind. You can find out for yourself whether you are right or wrong. I bet you're wrong here.

It's just a stupid idea.

Depends how much you want that hydrogen and how expensive the alternatives are. It's a stupid idea to get water by desalinization, but people do it anyway because the alternatives are more expensive. It's a stupid idea to use an expensive satellite phone since cell phones and landlines are much cheaper, except of course, that some regions have neither working cell phones or landlines. Stupid ideas have a way of becoming smart ideas when the options are more expensive. In the case of the Moon, how expensive will it become to transport a kilogram of hydrogen there? I've heard guesses of $100,000 to $1,000,000 per kg with current technology and launch costs. So in other words, my little scheme would harvest two to three million dollars worth of hydrogen a year. If the infrastructure can be made locally for less than say $20 million or so (and to be honest that would require some sort of significant manufacture innovations that might on their own drive down costs to the Moon considerably), then it's a clear win.

Re:Get well soon (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#29233661)

Right. Build a grid the size of Connecticut to get 50 pounds of hydrogen -- not enough to get a model rocket off the lunar surface.

It scales. The Moon is a lot bigger than Connecticut.

It absolutely does not scale. Even if it was just sparsely scattered wires and towers, that would way more than the hydrogen it could harvest in a hundred thousand years.

Perfect correction? I'm just interested in capturing positively charged ions (most of the solar wind is ions as I understand it). As long as the grid is electrically neutral at a distance, it will work on anything positively charged. There's no need to "tune" it to a particular energy.

Wrong. Picture rolling an iron ball past a magnet at a hundred miles an hour. Now picturing rolling an iron ball past the same magnet at 1 mile an hour. Do you really think the balls will get deflected by the same amount? Solar wind isn't a single energy level; it's a broad range. Your idea is to try and concentrate solar wind into smaller collectors via an electrostatic grid. That would only work if the particles were uniform energy, which they're not.

Boy, I'm tempted to toss in a hypocritical "cite?" remark here. But you seem pretty knowledgeable on the solar wind. You can find out for yourself whether you are right or wrong. I bet you're wrong here.

It's very, very simple. Craters and crevices have no significant electrostatic charge, so they're not going to be bending ion paths. The only thing they can do is shield, which means, if anything, *less* hydrogen.

Re:Get well soon (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29238837)

It absolutely does not scale. Even if it was just sparsely scattered wires and towers, that would way more than the hydrogen it could harvest in a hundred thousand years.

The Moon has a radius of roughly 1700 km. That means an effective cross-section area of a bit over 9 million square km. Even at 1% efficiency, that's be 18 tons of hydrogen per year. At 100% efficiency that'd be 1800 tons a year. Not exciting, but you could still run a large civilization (with efficient recycling of hydrogen).

Wrong. Picture rolling an iron ball past a magnet at a hundred miles an hour. Now picturing rolling an iron ball past the same magnet at 1 mile an hour. Do you really think the balls will get deflected by the same amount? Solar wind isn't a single energy level; it's a broad range. Your idea is to try and concentrate solar wind into smaller collectors via an electrostatic grid. That would only work if the particles were uniform energy, which they're not.

Two observations to make here. First, you can tune the grid to the energy level with the largest population. Besides it doesn't have to be perfectly tuned in order to successfully deflect an ion. Second, I recall mentioning an efficiency of 1%. Make a guess why I didn't throw out 100% instead?

It's very, very simple. Craters and crevices have no significant electrostatic charge, so they're not going to be bending ion paths. The only thing they can do is shield, which means, if anything, *less* hydrogen.

One mechanism you missed: reflection.

Finally, to cut this interest debate short, I found the real killer flaw in the electrostatic grid idea. To deflect charged particles, you need a certain, probably rather high voltage potential. Make a guess what happens to voltage differences when you rain on them with a plasma? You get an effective current flow which reduces the voltage potential. So in order to continue to maintain the electrostatic grid, you need counter this current flow with your own in the opposite direction. That takes power, power proportional to the amount of solar wind collected and which increases as you try to make the system more efficient.

Re:Get well soon (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#29226019)

Cite. The Apollo astronauts' samples yield hydrogen in ppb quantities. Lunar Prospector suggested there might be some at the poles, but subsequent followup attempts to find water or any other hydrogen-bearing minerals have come up empty.

You've done my work for me. Lunar prospector. The single study you cite has two problems. First, the model it uses for crust rigidity in the presence of water could be wrong. Second, it doesn't say anything about the presence of hydrates. It merely claims to demonstrate that there isn't liquid water present which is a much weaker claim.

Yes. In *ppb quantities*. Completely impractical to extract.

Again this depends on the distribution of hydrogen. Just because it is ppb in some places, doesn't mean it is in those concentrations everywhere else on the Moon too.

For what, making your voice sound funny? The main use for helium in rocketry is as a pressurant, but on the moon, there are much better approaches than that.

Helium has a number of uses. I was thinking of its use as a coolant. For example, it'd be useful for an IR or microwave telescope/antenna. But sure you could use it as a pressurant or as breathing gas medium. And there's helium 3 too. Just because you don't like the hype surrounding the isotope doesn't mean helium 3 fusion won't become viable at some point.

Whether harvesting roughly a quarter kilogram (halved for lunar night) of hydrogen per square meter per year

My error, I meant to say per square kilometer. Seriously. I replied to your add-on comment explaining why I was thinking in scales that large.

Re:Get well soon (3, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29212039)

One interesting thing mentioned in the article is that they can already produce oxygen from lunar minerals. The sun is sending a nice stream of hydrogen via the solar winds. This can be combined to produce potable water without having to process any ice whatsoever.

Keep in mind that the "steady stream of hydrogen" amounts to a few pounds a year scattered across the entire lunar surface. Worse yet, AIUI, it doesn't stay on the surface long - it out gasses.

Re:Get well soon (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29211663)

I was thinking about that over the last few days (saw this monday). It seems to me that we really need to get the microsats going just for communication. It would be useful to get a network going around the moon and perhaps around mars. If we just do the moon first, we can use the experience for Mars. Yeah, I know. It was planned for Mars, but W's admin killed it. But the microsats could do this job NICELY for the moon. The same network could be used by Lunar prize.

Re:Get well soon (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29212899)

The worst job microsats can perform is communication. To do communication well you need big (read: heavy) antennas. What we *need* around the Moon is a TDRSS. The ones we have in GEO are some of the biggest satellites ever launched. It's said that the entire shuttle program was justified by the launch of just the TDRSS and they've been milking it ever since.

Re:Get well soon (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29215319)

While you need one to relay lots of info to earth, not all the sats have to be heavy carriers; Think of little home routers vs the large routers that are used at ISPs. What is needed INITIALLY is a simple network that can send moderate (ok small) amounts of data that would allow several other sats to send information via these relays. Something like marscom [usna.edu] would make sense, combined with ONE TDRSS like system located at earth-moon L1. Keep in mind that since we have so few sats there and for relatively short time, we simply need the ability to talk to them when they are on backside. Later, when more sats are up there, then it would make sense to put up large high bandwidth ones.

3..2..1.. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210575)

.. till we get "save the moon" morons.

Re:3..2..1.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29210641)

Imagine if the USAF had gone through with the plan to nuke the moon in the 50s.

Re:3..2..1.. (3, Funny)

ZackSchil (560462) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210701)

We're spending so much money, millions of dollars to blow up the moon when there's so much right here on earth to blow up. Mount Everest, the north pole, et cetera. We're earthlings, let's blow up earth things.

WE'RE EARTHLINGS, LET'S BLOW UP EARTH THINGS!

WE'RE EARTHLINGS, LET'S BLOW UP EARTH THINGS!

Cost of Water (3, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210585)

"Carrying water to the moon costs $100,000 a kilogram"

Yes, that's what happens when you fly to the moon with Ryanair and buy your water onboard.

Costs? (2, Funny)

hardburn (141468) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210637)

What costs more to get to the moon? A kg of water, or a kg of feathers?

Re:Costs? (4, Funny)

jfdawes (254678) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210749)

Given that feathers are much less dense than water, everything else being equal it would cost more to get the feathers there since they enclosure required to contain them would be larger than the enclosure required to contain water.

Things not being equal, feathers are far more compressible than water so you could perhaps increase their density substantially.

You don't specify what condition you want the feathers in. It might be possible to just glue them to the outside of the craft, in which case there are no associated container requirements whereas the water must still be contained. In this case it's going to cost more to get the water there.

On the other hand, if the water was already in orbit it would be as ice, in which case you might be able to just glue a chunk of that to the outside of the craft.

If we're gluing random chunks of stuff to the outside of spaceships, it's probably going to come down to how much friction each material causes and what loss of material each substance would undergo due to space friction.

HTH

Re:Costs? (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29211519)

Also, for those who have trouble remembering their metric units and conversions, a kilo of water (at room temperature) is 1 liter (1000 cm3) - slightly more than a quart. With serious rationing, humans can live on as little as 3 or so liters a day, but in your everyday life you probably use at least 50 (and that's if you shower quickly and use low-volume toilets).

This is why recycling water is so vital on spacecraft and space stations, and is also part of why being able to extract water is nearly essential to any even somewhat self-sufficient extraterrestrial base (never mind colony or town) we want to establish.

Re:Costs? (2, Interesting)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#29212221)

"With serious rationing, humans can live on as little as 3 or so liters a day"

On sea kayaking trips, where there isn't any fresh water, we usually bring about two litres a day, and that leaves a comfortable safety factor. That doesn't include showering, but it IS perfectly possible to have a sponge bath in less than half a litre, and people used to get along perfectly well having VERY infrequent baths.

The recommended daily intake of drinking water is around 1-2 L/day for women and 2-3 L/day for men. With "serious rationing," and living and working in a controlled environment you could cut that down by at least half.

Yeah, it's nice to have 100 L a day to flush toilets and take showers, but it's not really required.

Re:Costs? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#29213321)

"but in your everyday life you probably use at least 50 (and that's if you shower quickly and use low-volume toilets)"

It's probably quite a bit more than 50L per person. Here in Melbourne Australia we have strict laws on water use due to the "permenant drought", ( eg: no washing of cars, no sprinklers/garden hoses ). The govt have a public awareness campaign to try and get everyone to limit their use to 155L/day of mains supply by taking 3 minute showers, using the half flush button, etc.

Recent missions confirmed oxygen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29210661)

The majority of the mass of the Moon is oxygen. Most of the surface minerals are metal oxides. This has been known for quite a while.

Silly NASA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29210797)

NASA should take a leaf out of the Victorian (Australia) Governments book and build a pipeline. Though given the VIC governments brilliant projects the pipeline would probably be to somewhere like... the Sun. At least then the people on the moon would be warm, but a little thirsty.

No win situation (1)

Silent Objection (948709) | more than 4 years ago | (#29210949)

At first look at the article, I wondered how people would respond to the United States bombing the moon. Then a more careful reading highlighted that we are in fact not "bombing" the moon, to which I immediately thought, "wait, what do you mean we're not bombing the moon? Why the hell not?!"

Maybe that'll just have to be saved for a future mission.

Re:No win situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29211575)

I, for one, welcome our "Mission Accomplished" banner waving, plastic turkey carrying, NASA overlords.

Importing water to the moon (2, Interesting)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29211621)

An interesting effect of not having water readily available on the moon could be the development of missions to icy moons to get the water required for a moon (or Mars) colony. The Moon is going to be important if we plan to be a space-faring civilization as it's the closest place to Earth that has the raw materials to build spacecraft coupled to a very rocket-friendly gravity well. I am not sure about fuels (nuclear fuels), but the rest looks promising.

There are many nice places to collect water ice in the outer solar system and once you have a full tank of water collected you can use it as propellant in a nuclear-thermal rocket to get back to the Moon with still plenty left. It would be a bitch to do it with a fully automated and autonomous spacecraft, but, at least, it's conceivable. And even building the spacecraft itself should not be that hard if we can remission Ares-V (more likely an Ares XXVIII, considering the timeframes involved) main tanks for ferrying water back from out there. The spacecrafts would end-up being small when compared to their tanks.

Sigh (2, Interesting)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29211623)

What are they thinking?

Before they can think about a moon base, maybe they should fix the problem of getting into orbit in the first place. Right now, the current implementation is not a solution. $10,000 or so a kilogram is stupidly expensive. It costs many millions of dollars to blast just one astronaut into space.

Re:Sigh (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29212937)

It costs so much because its a government program. The design decisions that made the shuttle, and are now pushing the design of Constellation, were not about technology, they were about which congressional district the components would be manufactured in, how many government employees would be laid off, etc. Under those constraints I'm surprised NASA ever gets anything to fly.

How many kilotons of TNT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29211643)

I can't wait for Lunar Shock-and-Awe. I'll be walking around with a tent in my pants all week! Next time, we should do hydrogen bombs. You want hydrogen on the moon? I'll fuse its ass, bizatch!

We can, must, and WILL blow up the moon. (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 4 years ago | (#29211699)

I drove a car around on it.. Hit a golf ball. What else can you do with it?

Re:We can, must, and WILL blow up the moon. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29213509)

Just seen your username. Check out this [synthesiserpatel.co.uk] !

What if they shoot back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29211735)

I, for one, welcome our new lunar overlords.

Water on the moon + Earth drought = (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29211775)

Just wondering if we could import water FROM the moon seeing as we've got record drought levels around the world right now. Assuming they can get the water anyhow.

Also, if I were a moon landing conspiracy theorist, I'd say that this bombing is just a way for America to test their landers on the moons before using manned landers that they've never done before. Clever, but ultimately useless since I really do believe they've already been there.

Re:Water on the moon + Earth drought = (2, Informative)

psycho12345 (1134609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29212115)

Or we could spend far less and build a ton of desalination plants... Plenty of water on this planet (just not quite usable).

Re:Water on the moon + Earth drought = (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29212493)

But then what will we use all the left over salt for? Rubbing in our wounds and sowing in the lands of our enemies?

The Martian Way (1)

deodiaus2 (980169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29212257)

I read the book, "The Martian Way" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Martian_Way], which discusses capturing floating ice crystals and bringing them to a planet (Mars).
I was watching an episode of "The Universe", which stated that the vast majority of water on Earth comes from captured meteoroids. Light planets (Mars) lose their water because hydrogen evaporates off into space.

11% of cost (1)

drazed (1173351) | more than 4 years ago | (#29213131)

Shipping hydrogen to the moon is only 11% of the cost.
Water contains two hydrogen for one oxygen, but oxygen is 16 times heavier then hydrogen, you require 8 times the weight in oxygen vs hydrogen to create water.
If you can't find cheap hydrogen on the moon you can bring some with you, it's nice and compressible, to make h2o at 11% of the shipping cost less equipment ;)

$100 per Gram ? Ground Control to Major Tom.... (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29213501)

....we're just water junkies - strung out on a nervous high reaching an all time low.....(Bowie)

TANSTAAFL! (1)

shiloh.sharps (881311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29215173)

Am I the only one that's read "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"?

Re:TANSTAAFL! (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 4 years ago | (#29215211)

Note the tags on the story.

It was also the first thing I thought.. "Sure, they can make water, but how long until they can transmute the naturally occurring minerals into other substances to lessen the reliance on the evil overlords on Earth?"

Why the moon... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29215311)

I know being able to do something is cool, but do we really have to try and colonize the moon?
What is the point, I mean really, do we have no more room here?
I would say spend more on refurbishing the deserts in south african continent first,
and make them plush with greens and livable, before spending soooo much into THIS project.

Having a moon colony is cool, and might be a sort of fail safe should any big asteroid impact Earth, that our society lives on, but
we would have colonized a moon, the possibility of getting wiped out from an impact from an asteroid there are GREATER then here, no?

Repurpose the LHC or build a new one. (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29216183)

We are talking about shipping cargo to space, not people. G-forces are not an issue. CERN's Large Hadron Collider moves atoms at close to the speed of light, use the same magnetic principles to accelerate a container and launch it into space. The trick is then catching the object. It wouldn't work for anything living, because they'd be crushed under the forces, but for materials like water it wouldn't be an issue. You could even possibly launch satellites in this manner.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...