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NASA Strikes Gold and Water On the Moon

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the moon-is-a-moist-mistress dept.

Moon 421

tcd004 writes "The PBS NewsHour reports: there is water on the moon — along with a long list of other compounds, including mercury, gold and silver. That's according to a more detailed analysis of the cold lunar soil near the moon's South Pole. The results were released as six papers by a large team of scientists in the journal, Science Thursday. [Note: Nature's papers are behind a paywall; for a few more details, reader coondoggie points out a a story at Network World.] The data comes from the October 2009 mission, when NASA slammed a booster rocket traveling nearly 6,000 miles per hour into the moon and blasted out a hole. Trailing close behind it was a second spacecraft, rigged with a spectrometer to study the lunar plume released by the blast. The mission is called LCROSS, for Lunar Crater Observer and Sensing Satellite."

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421 comments

Well, that sure will change the song (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981314)

Twas a Miner 2049'er, and his daughter, Clementine!

She tripped and fell out an airlock.

Gold? (0, Troll)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981560)

I have to wonder how much of that gold was debris from the spacecraft - plating for connections, etc. Once the thing hit, I would imagine (and I am just guessing) that the plume that resulted was pretty well mixed with well-blended spacecraft.

Oh well, with the article behind a paywall, I'm not about to find out. Nice to pay for the science - NASA - out of the taxpayers pocket, then charge us again for the results, eh?

Re:Gold? (5, Informative)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981726)

I have to wonder how much of that gold was debris from the spacecraft - plating for connections, etc. Once the thing hit, I would imagine (and I am just guessing) that the plume that resulted was pretty well mixed with well-blended spacecraft.

Oh well, with the article behind a paywall, I'm not about to find out. Nice to pay for the science - NASA - out of the taxpayers pocket, then charge us again for the results, eh?

Thanks to google, I can find it all by myself.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/oct_21_media_telecon.html [nasa.gov]
-Taylor

Re:Well, that sure will change the song (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981980)

If gold ever becomes so expensive that mining it from the moon becomes economical, I might take that as a gold sell signal :)

AND CHEESE! LOTS AND LOTS OF CHEESE! (1)

unrtst (777550) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981334)

I've heard loads of these "there is water" "there isn't water" on such and such place over the ages, and I'm starting to be a bit of a doubting Thomas. They have yet to examine any of this stuff in-hand, or even in-robot-hand. We can send multiple robots to mars... where's the one picking up the gold on the moon? What are we waiting for? Bah humbug.

Re:AND CHEESE! LOTS AND LOTS OF CHEESE! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981362)

Smoke my lunar pole in your strawberry scented ASCII pipe.

Re:AND CHEESE! LOTS AND LOTS OF CHEESE! (2, Funny)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981714)

We all know that the moon is not in fact made out of green cheese. But what if it were made of barbeque spare ribs? Would ya eat it then? I know I would. Heck, I'd have seconds, and then polish it off with a cool Budweiser.

Re:AND CHEESE! LOTS AND LOTS OF CHEESE! (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981916)

We all know that the moon is not in fact made out of green cheese. But what if it were made of barbeque spare ribs? Would ya eat it then? I know I would. Heck, I'd have seconds, and then polish it off with a cool Budweiser.

A Bud with Moon Ribs?!? Yuk! I'd go with some Sweetwater Ale.

And Moon Cheese? That's have to be some full bodied red.

I can see it now... (2, Funny)

Lord Jester (88423) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981338)

Miners trapped in mine collapse on the moon...

And I thought the miners in South America had it rough waiting for rescue.

Re:I can see it now... (4, Interesting)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981450)

It really wouldn't matter if there were miners trapped on the moon. We would just shut them down and build a few new ones, or probably have reserves on standby. Maybe we could recover them for parts when it's convenient.

Or were you assuming humans would be doing the mining?

Re:I can see it now... (1)

Lord Jester (88423) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981640)

I wouldn't put it past some of the unscrupulous companies out there to do so to avoid the purchase price of the robots.

Re:I can see it now... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981692)

Think for one second about the cost of buying, transporting, and maintaining a radiation-hardened robot that can lie practically dormant at night (which lasts half a month, remember) if they run out of saved solar power.

Now think for one second about humans, who need radiation shielding, food, water, O2 (whether they're working or not), generate waste, and create political backlash at home if abandoned/neglected.

Now tell me again about "avoid the purchase price of the robots", with a straight face, OK?

Re:I can see it now... (1)

Lord Jester (88423) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981824)

I didn't say it was logical. I've seen plenty of examples of both corporate and government stupidity where corners were cut at the beginning without thinking it through.

But, more than anything it was a joke. No need to get your panties in a bunch. :P

Re:I can see it now... (1)

Cstryon (793006) | more than 3 years ago | (#33982044)

That is a scary thought, but intriguing to think about actually having miners on the moon. Maybe with the discovery of these metals, it might encourage the private sector to get to the moon. Heck, if I had the time and the money, I'd pay for a space station in orbit around the moon. Have it be to collect what's sent up from the surface, and ship to earth, and also receive new equipment, personal, and supplies from earth, until my surface station can be self sufficient. Then I'd start selling gold, silver, what ever has real value, use the water for my surface dwellers, and when I've gotten more money (Because I spent it all setting up my awesome space operation) I'd start developing and then selling, space tours, more stations, real-estate, ships, and get some healthy competition out in the black. Then, plan for Mars, and eventually figure out the Asteroid belt.

elements (2, Insightful)

Bradmont (513167) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981346)

Last I checked, none of mercury, gold or silver was a compound...

Re:elements (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981420)

elementary science and still the lies get through.

slashdot = stagnated

Re:elements (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981484)

You continue to obey, and to beg for more orders to obey.

Re:elements (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981522)

elementary science and still the lies get through.

slashdot = stagnated

Maybe we need to slam a rocket going 6000 mph into /. HQ and observe what is released?

Re:elements (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981434)

Well, gold and silver most often occurs in ores; the ores would be a compound, right?

Re:elements (-1, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit 24 (1916798) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981462)

well, the story summary didn't say ore; it didn't, right?

Re:elements (4, Funny)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981598)

No, they said it was in gold nugget rings, big thick chains, and little post earrings. All of which should be sent straight away to Cash For Moon Gold dot com!

"Dag burnit! Darn NASA done jumped my claim!" -- Grizzled Moon Prospector

Re:elements (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981910)

Great. There goes the neighborhood. And here we were hoping for some up-scale development.

Re:elements (2, Insightful)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981566)

I can't believe no one has comprehensively replied to this story yet. This is a huge deal -- a HUGE deal, and no one can deny that. Common knowledge has been, "well there's nothing on the moon, but perhaps on Mars or [celestial body]" and now we are hearing conclusively that both water and gold are present. This could be monumental, only time will tell.

Re:elements (2, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981846)

I would also like to point out that we also have water and gold on Earth, and a lot easier and cheaper to get to, using any technologies available now or likely to be available in the intermediate future. You're not getting gold off the moon unless you have heavy industry on the Moon, and putting that sort of investment there would be a monumentally stupefying waste when there are trillions of other things we can invest in down here on the surface and get much better returns much sooner.

So, nice to think about it, but don't expect it to be a really big deal this century.

Re:elements (5, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 3 years ago | (#33982038)

You're not getting gold off the moon unless you have heavy industry on the Moon, and putting that sort of investment there would be a monumentally stupefying waste when there are trillions of other things we can invest in down here on the surface and get much better returns much sooner.

True - but long-term, it's quite fascinating. It means there are at least some of the requisite resources on the moon for us to colonize it - for any number of definitions of "colony".

At the very least, there's water - a big cost for short-term missions. If there's water and "soil", you can create a cultivatable environment (if on a small scale). Get a small nuclear reactor up there and autonomous building drones (battery/nuclear powered, of course), and you've got an "unlimited" supply of water and hydrogen which could be used as a longer-term fuel source.

Such developments would almost immediately improve things here on earth, too: if you've got a portable, small ore refinery for moon use, you can use it for terrestrial industry, too (for those small-return, hard-to-reach locations).

Before long, you'd have enough materials and/or infrastructure on the moon that you could consider a permanent human settlement. This could be used for a number of things:

* Increased industrialization. With a little more research, we'd be able to package up the results and space-drop them to Earth.
* Increased research opportunities in low-gravity environments (good for long-term space development)
* A permanent low-gravity base from which spaceships could be more easily and potentially more cheaply built and launched. A 'space elevator' from the moon to a nearby colony vessel, for instance, would have significantly fewer requirements than one from Earth (strength and distance due to gravity well strength and size).
* Deep space telescopes (because building a large 'permanent' telescope in a gravity well would be easier than doing so in space/for space, as would its maintenance).

You minimize it, but "small" monumental jumps have had a very big impact, historically.
* Winged flight? Who needs it when we've got rail!
* Motor cars? What silly contraptions!
* Trains, for passengers? Ridiculous, nobody needs to go that fast!
* Go to the moon? What benefit is that? (Electronics industry revolution)

Also, imagine the opportunity for jump-starting another technological revolution. Due to the nature of space, this one, would, I suspect, be largely focused on 'reduce, reuse, recycle' as a core basis of functionality, not a dogma). Imagine: a small portable device which could take any waste petrol (eg. a processed food wrapper, or a great many of them) and turn it into a new, useful item. We're probably pretty close to being able to do that today, just not at an economy of scale. If there were a marketing push or something similar (say, the novelty brought on by 'astronauts are doing it'), such a thing - or something similar - could catch on.

Additionally, change in venue or requirements has often resulted in some interesting/novel/revolutionary improvements:
* Westerners improved their garments by observing the natives.
* New breeds of cattle were developed for use out West
* Canned goods were essentially 'invented' for Napoleon's large armies
* Larger, faster, more stable ships were invented to deal with the increased requirements of increased trans-Atlantic transit.

Just think how many 'common day' things we use today, on a daily basis, because someone decided the tool they were using did not work well within their specific constraints (but ended up being broadly applicable elsewhere, too):
* carbiner clips
* multitools/swiss army knives
* PDAs (and now, smartphones)
* post-it notes

I'm sure you can think of more. Those are the opportunities that further space exploration present.

I'm sure that, if there is a financial interest in doing so, someone will figure out how to get to the moon and stay there on a semi-permanent basis - if there's a financial case for doing so.

Re:elements (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981922)

Water = yes, gold = not really. Gold is about the most useless of all the elements. Yes, you can use it for wiring, but copper is about as good and much more plentiful. Gold is mainly valuable because fruit cakes think it is valuable.

Would love to go out there with a shovel.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981924)

Perhaps with the low gravity and massive impact craters rare elements that are normally deeper or even molten here on Earth might be near the surface. Now where's my darn spaceship and my moon-donkey? I needs to do me some Moon prospecin'

Re:elements (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981968)

Common knowledge has been, "well there's nothing on the moon, but perhaps on Mars or [celestial body]" and now we are hearing conclusively that both water and gold are present.

I wouldn't call that "common knowledge". We're fairly sure that the matter which makes up the moon was once parts of the earth, and got blasted off as a result of a massive collision. Therefore it stands to reason that the composition of the moon would resemble the composition of the earth, to a large extent. I've always figured there would have to be some water on the moon, as well as all the heavier elements which we see here on earth. We've just never had a chance to go take a serious look.

NASA found life on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981374)

But it was of the dead variety of life.

Space exploration has been vastly underwhelming since the mid '90s and earlier. They say they might have found life on Mars but $2 days they did it just to appease the scientific (atheist) crowd.

Obligatory Conspiracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981380)

And did they conviently slam the booster into the Apollo moon landing site? The moon not Nevada.

Lunar real-estate (1)

rickzor (1838596) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981398)

From TFA: "Roughly 5 percent of water ice - that's combined water vapor and ice - was found buried in the crater. This water ice could provide a valuable resource for human space travel, generating drinking water, but also possibly hydrogen and oxygen for breathing and rocket fuel."

Not to mention the profit from gold mining, my dream of living in space may not be too far off..

Bottled water at $50 for 500ml (1)

gapagos (1264716) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981404)

I can see it happening in the intermediate future... and some people will justify it as "healthier" than tap water, and others will justify it as "good for the economy".

Okay, it might be good for R&D, but that's it. I wish the bottled water industry would die. The only thing they're good at is finding new ways to sell us water and continue polluting our planet.

cheaper mining? (4, Interesting)

ddxexex (1664191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981414)

If you don't have to worry about the environment on the moon, how much gold (or rare earth metals or whatever) do you need to make a robotic lunar mining mission viable?

Re:cheaper mining? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981544)

realistically if the moon was made of solid gold, it would still not be viable. it costs upwards of $50,000 per kg to get robotic stuff onto the moon. it also costs a metric shitload to mine not to mention run the he3 fusion reactor to power the mining operation. it costs an even more metric shitload to return the material to earth and handle moon launch reentry and terminal guidance. not gonna be economically viable anytime soon. you need something which costs around $1 million per kg for the whole operation to be paid for easily. the only thing that expensive might be computer chips which are best made on earth anyway.

Re:cheaper mining? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981660)

"not to mention run the he3 fusion reactor to power the mining operation"

I know you were trying to inject some reality into a Space Nutter thread, but we have no such technology. Your sentence made it sound like we can buy one at Home Depot but it's just a matter of getting it to the Moon.

There is NO such technology. And if suddenly there WERE, you wouldn't need to go into space to get stuff, you'd have tons of power here on Earth (which also is made of elements...)

Most likely, a working fusion reactor would be as large, if not larger than a fission plant, much more complex, rely on even more exotic materials, have about the same electrical output (1GW) and only have a 90% uptime (like a fission reactor), and require a crew of people to operate.

For what? To get the same materials you can get on Earth from any Third World country ready to send its kids into mines?

Re:cheaper mining? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33982040)

To get the same materials you can get on Earth from any Third World country

Why do so many of you randomly capitalize words that are not proper nouns? Is this the new way to show off your functional illiteracy because failing to use there/their/they're, lose/loose, and where/were finally stopped being trendy? Is it a tribute to Emily Dickinson?

It's a legitimate question and I'll tell you why. It takes more effort to capitalize "third world" than it does to leave it lower-case. You are having to take the extra step of using the "Shift" key twice. In this case, doing it correctly is actually less effort than doing it incorrectly. You still choose to do it incorrectly. This is unique because most ways to show that you have no skill at using your own native language can be explained by laziness. That doesn't apply here.

Somebody explain this to me please.

Re:cheaper mining? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981954)

you need something which costs around $1 million per kg for the whole operation to be paid for easily.

In other words.... rare earth metals which go @ rates like $600,000 per Kg, before China cuts off the supply.

But not until the more cheaply available supplies on earth are exchausted.

Re:cheaper mining? (4, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981558)

A lot. First off is the fact to even send something to the moon requires a pretty big rocket, something like the Saturn V isn't cheap. Secondly, mining robots aren't hardly even used on earth, let alone on the moon. Thirdly we've found some water and some rare elements, not that we've found a lake and huge gold nuggets so we'd have to send many more missions to locate a suitable "mine".

Will we eventually mine the moon? Yes. Will it happen in the next 5 decades? Probably not and even then, the materials mined would make more sense to be used on something like a lunar colony, not for export back to Earth.

Re:cheaper mining? (2, Insightful)

insufflate10mg (1711356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981704)

That's extremely pessimistic. A living module and a couple astronauts could, with a reliable power source (whether solar or nuclear), begin mining the gold. You saw the old moon landing videos, those guys got out and walked around decades before microprocessing was a dirty thought.

Spirit and Opportunity were $400,000,000, and they had no purpose besides observation. A project to begin mining gold on the moon? I'm 100% positive it is not only possible, but extremely plausible that if a substantial amount of accessible gold was located, Earthlings would begin moonmining. It would be a symbol of a nation's advancement and status to be mining wealth from the heavens.

Re:cheaper mining? (3, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981990)

As stupid as it would be to go to the moon just for the sake of mining gold, I'd pay good money to see the looks on the faces of all the gold-hoarding doomsday-libertarians when the value of their stockpile plummets overnight.

Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981448)

Since NASA has no chance of ever establishing any more manned missions outside Earth's atmosphere, thanks to the weak political will in Washington, the continual myopic budget cuts for NASA, and the idiotic use of NASA as a jobs program for certain states by certain politicians (who I will not name, to avoid the obvious trolling that will ensue), this discovery may actually lead to future lunar missions in space. The Moon is just close enough to Earth to be nearly practical for the private space companies, and may be rich enough to be worth the haul. Especially with reports of China embargoing Rare Earth Elements.

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981476)

Unfortunately, REEs aren't overly abundant in basalts and anorthosites, the rocks that apparently make up virtually all of the lunar crust.

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981540)

Since NASA has no chance of ever establishing any more manned missions outside Earth's atmosphere

Really? Ever? As in For?

I highly doubt that. While at times I do share the same cynical outlook, political landscapes change. There is a lot of uncertainty in regard to the future of government sponsored space missions. You say "no chance". I say "some chance".

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981630)

Its been 38 years since the last manned moon landing. In that time the world has changed immensely. Think about it, in 1972, all the computing power in the world back then would fit into a cell phone today. But we haven't even been back to the moon despite it being easier to do than in the 60s.

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (2, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981718)

But we haven't even been back to the moon despite it being easier to do than in the 60s.

You're basically correct but the reason we're not back on the moon has little to do with electronics and lots to do with the fact that physics hasn't changed much in those 38 years. Gravity sucks.

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981930)

gravity sucks?!?

I thought it was acceleration down?

Shit! So it's 9.8 meters per second squared of suck?

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981862)

in 1972, all the computing power in the world back then would fit into a cell phone today.

So you're saying all I need to get to the moon is a cell phone?

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981830)

Private Space Companies?

Ok. Who owns the Moon? I remember hearing about some crazy stuff a little while back how somebody claimed ownership of the Moon and started selling plots. If we are actually going to go there and start mining it with private companies then ownership will HAVE to be decided first. Otherwise it is a free for all, might makes right, who has the most missiles type of deal.

I am not sure if we really know what the Moon is comprised of anyways. Sure we know about the surface, but do we know what is 10,000 feet below the surface? I am not sure there are craters deep enough to give us insight into what is that far down.

If the Moon really does contain valuable ore determining who owns it is going to be delicate issue.

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33982036)

Ok. Who owns the Moon? I remember hearing about some crazy stuff a little while back how somebody claimed ownership of the Moon and started selling plots.

I remember hearing about some crazy stuff a while back, like some guy selling the Eiffel Tower. Just because scam-artists are selling something doesn't mean that it's ownership is being disputed.

If we are actually going to go there and start mining it with private companies then ownership will HAVE to be decided first. Otherwise it is a free for all, might makes right, who has the most missiles type of deal.

You could make the same argument about Antarctica. I mean, yeah, you're right, but it's not an issue at this point, and we'll deal with it when the time comes. On the other hand, missiles won't have much to do with it - it's not as if there are hundreds of nations who can launch such a program at this point. Even if all 5 of the nations with advanced space programs manage to get there at the same time, the moon is more than big enough to share.

Re:Incentive for Private Companies? (1)

j_sp_r (656354) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981844)

Like building a lander while both canceling the payload (robot) and the heavy lift vehicle?

Rare Earth Metals, from the Moon ... (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981492)

The moon men announced that they are diplomatically officially in a "huff" with the Earth, and that no rare Earth metals would be shipped from the Moon to the Earth.

Off the record, sources close to the moon men said, "Get your own damn rare metals from your own planet!"

Sources to close for comfort to NASA officials have commented, "Do we have to bomb the Moon again, until they get it?"

Re:Rare Earth Metals, from the Moon ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981538)

You Earthicans, putting your labels on EVERYTHING.

They're called rare Moon metals!!

Re:Rare Earth Metals, from the Moon ... (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981542)

You joke but that's exactly what we should do. If there is an adequate amount of the minerals present, there's our incentive to get back to the moon.

Any rare earth metals? :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981502)

.. looks like the US could use a new supplier. :-/

Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (4, Funny)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981528)

This is a great discovery, but what are we going to do with it? The obvious thing is to mine it out, but wouldn't lightening the mass of the moon have a (probably quite bad) effect on it's tidal effects to the earth?

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981562)

Insignificant. It would take millennia to remove that much mass from the moon.

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981626)

but don't worry ... we would get there --- just so we can fuck up future generations

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (4, Funny)

Da Cheez (1069822) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981586)

This is a great discovery, but what are we going to do with it? The obvious thing is to mine it out, but wouldn't lightening the mass of the moon have a (probably quite bad) effect on it's tidal effects to the earth?

The mass of whatever rare elements we pull off the moon would probably be negligible compared to its overall mass. I would be more worried about the seemingly permanent change in appearance the moon would suffer with mining operations running on it. Without something like an atmosphere, any changes we make will be there for eons. I guess there's no practical reason for it, but I kind of like looking up into the sky and seeing a pristine lunar landscape. Maybe if they only mined the dark side of the moon....

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981724)

Being concerned about the image of the lunar surface make as much sense as being concerned over how your comment impacts the aesthetics of Slashdot.

Life is change. The Universe knows it - why don't you?

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (4, Insightful)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 3 years ago | (#33982056)

Just like when you stand on the moon and look down at the earth you see the landscape we ruined?

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981674)

Not so long as the materials are used for construction on the moon. Until we have some breakthrough in the efficiencies of space travel it wont make sense to bring the materials back to earth for use anyways. Not to mention it would take a very long time to bring down the mass of the moon by even 1%. And if/when we do get to the point for it to be economic to bring back materials from the moon it would likely be as trivial to take advantage of the asteroid belt.

This is great news for a future moon base, mined and built on the moon.

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981728)

"The obvious thing is to mine it out, but wouldn't lightening the mass of the moon have a (probably quite bad) effect on it's tidal effects to the earth?"

You are joking, aren't you?

And who the heck modded that "interesting"? Unless, of course, the "interesting" part is looking for how the heck are we going to mine to an extent that makes anything about a tiny fraction of a tiny scratch out of a whole damn body as massive as the Moon.

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981774)

Mass of moon is around 7.4 × 10^22 kg.

Ain't nothing we humans do gonna make much of a dent in that sucker.

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981804)

Just made some calculations:
To make the moon 1% lighter over 1 million years you would have to send 1.7 BILLION metric tons to earth every day. I would rather worry to flood Amsterdam by spitting into the ocean.

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981858)

To get material from Moon to Earth you need a delta-v of about 1 km/sec. That corresponds to a change in energy of 500000 J per kilogram. To remove even 0.000001% of the Moon's mass and send it down to earth, it would take 3.7e20 J, roughly the equivalent of 87 gigatons of TNT.

Re:Wouldn't mining the moon be a bad idea? (1)

baegucb (18706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981900)

Just remember, they slammed extra metal onto the moon at mach 8! It evens out ;)

Cheeeeeese. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981582)

What, no Cheese?

In the immortal words of someone... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981590)

Thar be gold in that thar planetary body!

So unless there's Unobtanium there too... (2, Interesting)

Gavin Scott (15916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981632)

It seems to me that everything that you can find on the moon (or in asteroids for that matter) can be found here on earth in similar quantities and accessed more inexpensively, probably by a factor of 1/1,000,000 or so.

Sure, building your starship construction facility on the moon has advantages, ok, one advantage, that of 1/10 the gravity of earth, but honestly is it really cheaper to build something there rather than just do it on earth? Sure it would cost a lot more to launch stuff out of Earth's gravity well, but is it so much more expensive that it justifies the cost of learning how to do all this stuff on the moon?

You tell me what you want to do on the moon and I'll tell you how to do it faster and cheaper here on Earth.

There are lots of fun reasons to explore space (and maybe even the moon) but not for silver mining (and spaceport construction).

I know people get all romantic about human space flight, but personally I'd say send the robots until we find something worth visiting in person. They're better at the job.

G.

Re:So unless there's Unobtanium there too... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981688)

No, they are not better at the job. They might be better in a specific task, but not over all.

Having someone on Mars to make judgments about where to look it far more productive, and humans are far more adaptable to obstacles....but it's also far more expensive.

Cue the "Get Off This Rock" crew (0, Troll)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981664)

Now the "Get Off This Rock" gang will start shouting to the four winds that we can now have cheap, self-sustaining moon bases and then go to Mars right away. The real loonies will start wondering if it can pay its own way through gold mining.

Re:Cue the "Get Off This Rock" crew (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981898)

Loonies? What does the Canadian dollar have to do with moon bases?!?

Are the Canadians going to build them?

I like gooooooooold! (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981666)

Now we need to launch a nuke at the moon to make said gold radioactive for years. Almost worked for Goldfinger.

Who has the mine rights? The us? USSR? China? NASA (4, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981740)

Who has the mine rights? The us? USSR? China? NASA it self? Neil Armstrong?

Re:Who has the mine rights? The us? USSR? China? N (2, Funny)

PGGreens (1699764) | more than 3 years ago | (#33982048)

We better get on this. We must not allow a mineshaft gap!

Mooninite Statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981744)

To: NASA, Earthlings, et. al...

Your recent violation of Mooninite ground is a clear violation of our gravity well, as well as the sacred ores contained within our 'Shrine to Cold Storage'. Unfortunately, that Shrine also contained our only weapons cache, else we would have destroyed your atomosphere by now. This act of aggression has set us back, technologically, 10 years. For future reference, mark the day 10 years for your 'experiement date', so that you may prepare for Earths astmospheric destruction.

Regards,

Mooninite Hall of Justice
Mooninite Sacred Crater Guild
Mooninite Defensive Strategies Conglomerate

Freaky (1)

az1324 (458137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981758)

Kind of strange that I saw this story whilst watching "First Men in The Moon" where they also happen to find gold on the moon.

Obviously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981770)

If something crashed into Earth and broke a bunch of debris off to form the moon, then it should have elements on Earth and maybe frozen water in it.

Assuming that's how the Moon was formed...

So the new question is simple (2, Interesting)

Tanman (90298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981820)

Is there any amount of materials on the moon that would make it profitable for a company to build the capability to mine it and ship material back to earth? I'm not sure there is. Lets say you found a boulder of gold that weighed three tons. A solid nugget. What are the costs associated with recovering that nugget? Now, realizing that they won't find that, but instead ore and other materials that need processing, there are additional considerations: Do you pay for the shipping weight of ore, or do you pay to process the ore on the moon and ship the material? If you process it on the moon, how do you handle the additional maintenance and engineering requirements?

I didn't RTFA, but just seeing that valuable materials on the moon made me question how valuable ANYTHING is when you have to pay so much per unit of weight to retrieve it. Maybe Chuck Norris' cancer-curing tears, if they were found on the moon. But I can't think of much else.

Re:So the new question is simple (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 3 years ago | (#33981878)

Freight costs overwhelm material costs, but that works in both directions.

Once you're out of Earth orbit, resources from the Moon are much cheaper to you than resources blasted out of Earth's gravity well.

Water is especially wonderful. Electrolyze it and liquefy the results, and you have rocket fuel.

wonders why it took 40+ years to find out, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33981938)

but so be it. awesome!

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