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Space Science

Hubble Zooms In On Moon Minerals 191

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the do-you-see-what-i-see dept.
DIY News writes "Lunar scientists have already returned to the moon, using the Hubble Space Telescope and old Apollo Program rock samples to begin prospecting for useful ores. Locating ores rich in oxygen and metals is seen as the first step in making the next decade's human return to the moon more self sufficient and cost effective. Some wavelengths of UV are filtered out by Earth's atmosphere, which is why Hubble can do the job better than a ground-based telescope."
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Hubble Zooms In On Moon Minerals

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  • Hollywood basement ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bushboy (112290) <lttc@lefthandedmonkeys.org> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:56PM (#13838255) Homepage
    So how about a hires shot of the flag and footprints so we can all say "I TOLD YOU SO !"
  • Thank goodness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by no reason to be here (218628) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:56PM (#13838259) Homepage
    I sure am glad that such a waste of valuable resources like the Hubble is going to be scrapped soon. The sooner we stop doing such useless things with it like valuable research that will directly result in more efficient space travel, the better.
    • As the car you're driving gets older and older, it starts to need more maintenance. This maintenance costs money that could instead be used to purchase a new car that only needs the occasional oil change. Do you immediately buy the new car? Probably not, since the old one's already paid for and it gets you to work & back just fine. At some point however, your mechanic will tell you that you've dropped your Johnson joint and you'll need new muffler bearings soon, to the tune of $2000. Only then is i
      • While I do understand and appreciate that the Hubble is getting old and is becoming obsolete, there is no real replacement for it in orbit yet, and the replacement won't be in orbit until perhaps after a time when the Hubble has stopped working. To continue with your car analogy, what is happening to the Hubble is sort of like deciding that one's car is getting old, and in a few years you'll have the money and other resources to buy a new car, so why bother with the expense of having the old changed and ot
  • by EmperorKagato (689705) * <sakamura@gmail.com> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @01:58PM (#13838274) Homepage Journal
    "We require more minerals"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:00PM (#13838289)
    here's some more [google.com].
  • Zoom (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mboverload (657893) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:00PM (#13838290) Journal
    I wasn't aware Hubble could focus to so close of an object. Anyone have details about this?
    • The Discovery Channel apparently does. It's linked to by the submitter. :)
    • Re:Zoom (Score:2, Insightful)

      by RapidEye (322253)
      Define close???
      The Hubble orbits 350 miles above the earth and the average distance to the moon is 238,857 miles.

      I'd hardly consider 238,500 (apprx) miles very close =-)
      • That's only about 10^{-8} parsecs, though.
      • Re:Zoom (Score:5, Insightful)

        by WhiteBandit (185659) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:16PM (#13838443) Homepage
        Define close???
        The Hubble orbits 350 miles above the earth and the average distance to the moon is 238,857 miles.

        I'd hardly consider 238,500 (apprx) miles very close =-)


        Considering the Hubble routinely examines objects hundred of millions to billions of light years away from Earth (See the See the Hubble Deep Field survey [stsci.edu]), I'd consider ~239K miles to be right the fuck on top of. ;)
    • Re:Zoom (Score:5, Informative)

      by twiddlingbits (707452) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:11PM (#13838400)
      I worked on HST software but it was years ago so I may be a bit off base but here is what I recall.

      The Cameras on the Hubble don't really focus like we think of with a 35mm camera. They take exposures of various durations and with certain filters in place. Then the raw data is postprocessed on the ground and based on the raw data, the wavelength filters, etc. then "image" is constructed.

      With the UV "camera" what they would be doing is taking a (TBD time) open shutter picture of the moon with the filters set to only let UV wavelengths pass to the detectors. The detectors will record the intensity of the light hitting each "pixel" of the camera ("binning") and send that data to the ground for processing. If you go to NASAwatch.com there is an article about this that actually links to the experiment definitions, process, etc that was submitted by the researcher in order to get the (very limited) time with the Instrument.
    • but it cant focus on things smaller than 60 yards across...?
      • Computer imaging and enhancement doesn't really work like a camera. It works more like a biological vision system by taking multiple sets of data and interpolating them to yeild a best fit... like if you look at a really pixelated still image, you can't tell what it is, but if you look at a bunch images of the same object that are all pixelated slightly differently, you can figure out what it's supposed to look like.

        Theoretically, the resolution is arbitrary- it's just a matter of how much raw data you ca

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:02PM (#13838317) Homepage

    I've always liked Hubble, not only for pushing back the bounds of our knowledge (and more importantly our ignorance, its made us realise there is much more we don't understand) but also for the very very cool pictures that get people interested in science.

    This is a very useful and productive use of Hubble... but will it help it get more funding? I'm not sure that the chaps in the Whitehouse will get excited about finding rocks on the Moon unless they can claim that THIS was where Saddam had is WMDs.

    Rock A - No oxygen
    Rock B - No oxygen
    Rock C - No oxygen
    Rock D - A bit of metal
    Rock E - A bit of oxygen
    Rock F - No oxygen

    When they find something the photo is going to be rubbish, even worse than when scientists try and get people excited about red dust on Mars.

    I suggest that they do the colouring job on the Moon that they always do on the star systems, and make it look way cooler...

    "Rock X not only has a large amount of gold, shown in gold, and oxygen, shown in blue, but also various other minerals, show in pretty rainbow colours and is resting on a mauve background which represents the futility of mans existance and the desire to expand our knowledge"
  • A classic cartoon: http://dennisglass.com/cartoons15.html [dennisglass.com]

    So did they have to use a flash to get a pic of the dark side of the moon?
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Thursday October 20, 2005 @02:33PM (#13838575) Homepage
    It amazes me that so many allegedly "educated" people have fallen so quickly and so hard for a fraudulent fabrication of such laughable proportions. The very idea that a gigantic ball of rock happens to orbit our planet, showing itself in neat, four-week cycles -- with the same side facing us all the time -- is ludicrous. Furthermore, it is an insult to common sense and a damnable affront to intellectual honesty and integrity. That people actually believe it is evidence that the liberals have wrested the last vestiges of control of our public school system from decent, God-fearing Americans (as if any further evidence was needed! Daddy's Roommate? God Almighty!)

    Documentaries such as Enemy of the State have accurately portrayed the elaborate, byzantine network of surveillance satellites that the liberals have sent into space to spy on law-abiding Americans. Equipped with technology developed by Handgun Control, Inc., these satellites have the ability to detect firearms from hundreds of kilometers up. That's right, neighbors .. the next time you're out in the backyard exercising your Second Amendment rights, the liberals will see it! These satellites are sensitive enough to tell the difference between a Colt .45 and a .38 Special! And when they detect you with a firearm, their computers cross-reference the address to figure out your name, and then an enormous database housed at Berkeley is updated with information about you.

    Of course, this all works fine during the day, but what about at night? Even the liberals can't control the rotation of the Earth to prevent nightfall from setting in (only Joshua was able to ask for that particular favor!) That's where the "moon" comes in. Powered by nuclear reactors, the "moon" is nothing more than an enormous balloon, emitting trillions of candlepower of gun-revealing light. Piloted by key members of the liberal community, the "moon" is strategically moved across the country, pointing out those who dare to make use of their God-given rights at night!

    Yes, I know this probably sounds paranoid and preposterous, but consider this. Despite what the revisionist historians tell you, there is no mention of the "moon" anywhere in literature or historical documents -- anywhere -- before 1950. That is when it was initially launched. When President Josef Kennedy, at the State of the Union address, proclaimed "We choose to go to the moon", he may as well have said "We choose to go to the weather balloon." The subsequent faking of a "moon" landing on national TV was the first step in a long history of the erosion of our constitutional rights by leftists in this country. No longer can we hide from our government when the sun goes down.
  • I remember... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonym1ty (534715) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @03:03PM (#13838818) Homepage Journal
    What happened? I remember when we were told that aiming Hubble at the Moon or the Earth would destroy it's sensitive instruments.
    • Re:I remember... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by faxafloi (228519)
      What happened? I remember when we were told that aiming Hubble at the Moon or the Earth would destroy it's sensitive instruments.

      Hubble can do short images of the moon with no problem, aside from the challenge of guiding. It does images of the earth all the time. These are called earth calibrations and they serve as the basis of flat fields with which HST images are calibrated. You can't see anything in them, though, because the earth is too close to focus on, and the telescope is moving at ~300 miles/min,
  • by Scott7477 (785439) on Thursday October 20, 2005 @03:04PM (#13838832) Homepage Journal
    "The latest lunar prospecting first required aiming Hubble at Apollo landing sites and looking with special filters that showed only subtle UV signatures reflected by soils there.
    By then comparing the Hubble data to actual laboratory-studied samples that astronauts brought back from the same sites, they were able to get a clear idea just how these same minerals look through Hubble's eye. The Hubble Space Telescope can discriminate very subtle color differences on the surface," said planetary scientist Mark Robinson of Northwestern University. So subtle that Hubble can see mineralogical differences in rocks that look identical in color to the human eye, he said."

    So the Hubble can in fact discern with a usable degree of precision....

    "At Aristarchus, Hubble detected what appeared to be an abundance of the mineral ilmenite, which is good news, said NASA lunar scientist Michael Wargo. By heating or passing an electrical current through ilmenite, it's a simple matter to release oxygen, which can be used for breathing and for rocket fuel, he explained."

    It will be easy to extract at least one useful element....

    Ahhh...I'll just include the rest of the article.

    "In some ways the Hubble prospecting is just the bare beginning of the next phase of lunar exploration, said Garvin. The next step will be taken by the robotic Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is being built to map out the moon's resources in details.

    A second lunar probe is also being planned, all before the planned return of humans to the moon by about 2018, as directed by President George W. Bush's vision for humans in space.

    In a sense, said Robinson, the Hubble prospecting experiment is giving scientists the first taste of how to interpret the deluge of lunar data that will be coming from those spacecraft.

    "It will be a Niagara Falls of data," he said. "This is really going to jump start our ability to understand this data.""

    So this Hubble use is part of what seems to me to be a sound plan for preparing to build a base on the moon.
  • So, has there been any substantive discussion about how we might not want to look up at the Moon and have it begin to actually look like Swiss Cheese? Why would we want to destroy such an object that we have seen the same face of since Humans began (whether that's 10,000 years ago, or 1 million...)? Do we really want to see strip mines when we look up at the Moon? Or the lights of night mining operations breaking the apparent illusion of "phases of the Moon"? Will we only mine the side of the moon facing aw
    • You've got a wonderful point, obviously, but alas my answer is a mere two words.

      Chairface Chippendale.
  • He3 is the key (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dollyknot (216765)
    There is something worth $40000 an ounce on the moon, read about it here.

    http://fti.neep.wisc.edu/gallery/ [wisc.edu]

    and here

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/1283 056.html?page=1&c=y/ [popularmechanics.com]

  • Why... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by QJimbo (779370)
    Why in gods name isn't there a lunar orbiter satellite? Surely it would cost too much to set one up, and we could get some really hi-res images of the surface, I mean we really should have better quality ones by now.

Our policy is, when in doubt, do the right thing. -- Roy L. Ash, ex-president, Litton Industries

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