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Moon

The Moon's Magnetic Umbrellas 125

Posted by Zonk
from the living-on-the-mooooon dept.
eldavojohn writes "When it comes to space exploration, there are things that are good for humans (water) and things that are bad for humans (radiation). In order for exploration of the moon to occur, its lack of a global magnetic shield to block solar radiation must be addressed. Luckily, scientists have discovered that there are highly magnetized areas of the moon's crust that could shield settlements." From the article: "Current evidence suggests that impact-basin ejecta materials [material blasted out by huge asteroid or comet impacts] are the most likely sources of many or all of the magnetic fields ... These ejecta contain microscopic metallic iron particles that are the carriers of the magnetization."
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The Moon's Magnetic Umbrellas

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  • hmmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by operato (782224) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:04PM (#16839552)
    can't we just hide underneath some rocks? or can radiation get through moon rock since it's made of cheese?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It takes work to hid under rocks. Not as much as it takes to use a shift key, but it still takes some work.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by The Lone Man (1017800) *
        It takes work to hide under rocks. Not as much as it takes to use an 'e' key, but it still takes some work.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:05PM (#16839578)
    How the fuck can cheese possibly be magnetic!
  • TMA-1 (Score:5, Funny)

    by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:09PM (#16839648)
    I understand there's a large magnetic anomoly in the Tycho crater...
    • Re:TMA-1 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Speare (84249) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:25PM (#16839960) Homepage Journal

      The parent was a reference to the "Tycho Magnetic Anomaly 1," the discovery of the second Monolith in the novel and movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey."

      The first monolith was temporarily positioned near the early homo erectus tribes, giving them a sort of gift of wonder and exploration, which immediately translated to tool usage and subsequent dominance over their competing tribes for resources.

      The second monolith was a simple beacon to indicate when mankind was ready to travel away from its home planet. It was buried under the crust of the moon, and the ONLY indication it gave to humanity was that it disturbed the natural magnetic flux of an inert rocky ball. Tycho itself may have even been shaped to help lead mankind to it. Once exposed to the vacuum of space, it sent a loud radio signal that would be heard by the likely discoverers as well as lead them to the next monolith breadcrumb.

      Of course, Dave Bowman found the third monolith despite the psychotic interference of a computer with competing secret directives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by networkBoy (774728)
        Great. You spoiler you. you just ruined it for me, not there's no point in watching the movie. Haven't you heard of ROT-13 encoding for spoilers?
        .
        .
        .
        insensitive clod.

        -nB ;)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          He was trying to be super-secret with his spoilers, so he used double ROT-13.
        • by eclectro (227083)
          After a movie has been out for a number of years, they are no longer considered spoilers. Otherwise, there would be no discussion about any movie at all while a handful of people hold out on seeing the movie(s).
          • guess the smiley after my initials wasn't noticeable enough for the joke...
            -nB
          • by p3d0 (42270)
            After a movie has been out for a number of years, they are no longer considered spoilers. Otherwise, there would be no discussion about any movie at all while a handful of people hold out on seeing the movie(s).
            No, people discuss the movie with spoiler warnings. I'm not sure where you got your rules, but they're not the rules the rest of us go by.
        • So get 'unspoiled'. Take some LSD and go watch the movie like millions of other people did when it was released. You'll be just amazed. Can't find any LSD? Ah, well, that was the 'other space program' that we lost since the 1960s.
          Actually though, you're kind of lucky. The original 2001:A Space Odyssey was really long and boring. Its 'magic' depended upon its special effects and the degree that they were taken seriously at the time. Now, they would be really boring.
          Still
      • Proof that "evolution" is nothing but science fiction...
      • Once exposed to the vacuum of space, it sent a loud radio signal that would be heard by the likely discoverers as well as lead them to the next monolith breadcrumb.

        Actually, it was sunlight hitting the previously-buried and newly-excavated TMA-1 monolith that caused it to emit the signal (shown quite clearly in Kubrick's film; see also here [wikipedia.org]) ... but you've got the gist of it.

      • The second monolith was a simple beacon to indicate when mankind was ready to travel away from its home planet. It was buried under the crust of the moon, and the ONLY indication it gave to humanity was that it disturbed the natural magnetic flux of an inert rocky ball. Tycho itself may have even been shaped to help lead mankind to it. Once exposed to the vacuum of space, it sent a loud radio signal that would be heard by the likely discoverers as well as lead them to the next monolith breadcrumb.

        Nit: TMA

      • by pentalive (449155)
        Actually TMA-1 sent it's signal the first time sunlight fell on it. It sat in the "dig" long enough for Heywood Floyd to arrive and examine it.
  • So the question that remains to be answered is

    Do asteroids hit the same spot twice??
  • Terraforming (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pink_Ranger (1024741)
    So does that mean that terraforming is out of the question? I mean, even if we could create and hold an atmosphere (impossible for lack of gravity), would the moon remain uninhabitable due to a weak magnetosphere?
    • Re:Terraforming (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Apocalypse111 (597674) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:30PM (#16840040) Journal
      Pretty much. The Earth is habitable primarily because of its strong magnetosphere. This magnetic field deflect a large amount of the harmful radiation (and other particles in the solar wind) that would otherwise blow away our atmosphere and fry us all. Now, the whole domed-city concept is still possible, if impractical, and there's always the possibility of building underground and using the lunar surface as a radiation shield - but terraforming? Not really.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jmichaelg (148257)
        The Earth is habitable primarily because of its strong magnetosphere.

        Showing my ignorance here but I thought the atmosphere was the key shield against radiation. The magnetic poles switch every so often and while they're switching I thought the magnetosphere pretty much collapses. Yet life appears to go on.

        • by c_woolley (905087)
          Not showing ignorance...you are correct. At least that is what evidence shows us. The magnetic sphere surrounding the earth does provide protection from radiation though. Even if the poles switch, the fields deflect radiation (not all of course). Particles in the solar winds that were mentioned above are deflected both by our magnetic shield (think Death Star) and by our atmosphere. So, both of you are correct.

          Terraforming would also probably be out of the question since the soil there is made of a rea
          • True - the atmosphere does stop some of the radiation, such as how the ozone layer stops UV light. The majority of the radioactive particles are stopped by the magnetic field, with part of it coming in to the atmosphere in the form of the Arora Borealis.

            At least, this is how I remember hearing it from that Discovery channel special about the history of the earth.
  • Short List (Score:5, Funny)

    by richdun (672214) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:17PM (#16839798)
    Other things that are bad for humans in space:

    Vaccuum
    Lack of hospitable worlds within a light-lifetime of Earth
    Space junk in LEO
    Lack of food/flora/fauna
    Lack of easy return trips
    Metric/English conversions
    Klingons
    Frakking toasters
    Pod bay doors
    Random ion storms which give superhuman powers
    Maniacal dictators who for some reason want to use their newest Deus Ex Machina on Earth ...
  • That'd be much more interesting if the story played out like Mr. A.C. Clarke wrote it. <queue music="Also Spracht Zarathustra" />
  • by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:19PM (#16839856) Homepage Journal

    We might as well face it... settlements on planets is never going to happen. Couple of reasons:

    1) The moon is too ugly and the gravity too light.

    2) Mars is ugly too, but even beyond that, it won't be allowed because we won't want to screw up the natural environment for study.

    The future of space settlements is space stations floating in space. We can have any environment we want (including green), we can simulate natural gravity via spinning, and we can engineer shielding. Settling other planets is romantic, but impractical, and arguably very few people would want to live on a dead rock anyway.

    • Hear! Hear! Hollow out an iron asteroid, move to desired orbit, rinse, repeat. Why climb out of this gravity well to climb down another?
    • by Tx (96709) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:26PM (#16839966) Journal

      1) The moon is too ugly


      I guess one man's ugly is another man's beautiful
       
      ...and the gravity too light.

      A plus for most Americans - instantly lose 5/6 of your weight just by relocating

      2) Mars is ugly too, but even beyond that, it won't be allowed because we won't want to screw up the natural environment for study.

      Can't study it properly if we don't go there. Studying Mars will likely be the justification for any first settlement.
      • I guess one man's ugly is another man's beautiful

        I'm sure there's *someone* how would enjoy living on a cold, dead rock, just like there are people who choose to live in Antarctica... wait, does anyone choose and/or desire to live in Antarctica? Sure, it's a nice place to visit...

        The beauty you speak of is the romance of living on another planet. After the romance is dead, we'll see how many people really want to live there.

        A plus for most Americans - instantly lose 5/6 of your weight just by reloc

        • by Heem (448667)
          It simply won't be allowed. Mark my words.

          Allowed by who? Seriously. If I happened to have the technology in my backyard, right now, to go to and survive on mars, who is stopping me from settling there or even claiming ownership of part or whole planet?
          • If I happened to have the technology in my backyard, right now, to go to and survive on mars, who is stopping me from settling there or even claiming ownership of part or whole planet?

            What, do you think your going to just load up your ark spaceship with a pair of every animal and supplies that will last forever? Any sort of settlement is going to need Earth support for centuries before it could be self sustaining, if it EVER could be self-sustaining. And it's not like an undertaking like that is going t

            • by Thraxen (455388)
              I know there are treaties that prevent any nation from claiming ownership of the moon, but I'm not sure if we have the same for the planets as well.

              Anyone know?
              • by Heem (448667)
                And even if there are, what validity do they have? What right does anyone on earth have to any other planet? Perhaps There is a colony of sentient beings on Venus and they have claimed rights on Mars.. Are we going to hold them liable in a court on Earth?

                The whole point people are missing here, is that nobody is there on Mars, that we know of. Mars is not a Nation, it is a planet, so the United NATIONS and any interNATIONAL agreement really has no clout.

                I hereby proclaim myself the ruler of Mars

                Of course th
                • by Thraxen (455388)
                  Well, first, I'd say its a safe bet there are no sentient being on Venus. And what right do we have? We live here (here being this solar system) You talk about "clout", but if there is no one there to refute our claim then we have all the clout we need. Sure, if some aliend race flies into our solar system tomorrow and colonizes Venus then I'd agree that they have the right to claim it since we aren't there. These treaties are amonst the people of earth. You can't claim Mars because you will be held s
            • by Heem (448667)
              "load up your ark spaceship with a pair of every animal and supplies that will last forever? Any sort of settlement is going to need Earth support for centuries before it could be self sustaining"

              What if I happened to have knowledge that UNDER the surface of Mars there is plenty of natural resources for me and my small team of settlers to survive on? Just because you don't THINK it's possible, does not mean it's not. The only information we have about Mars right now comes from telescopic views, and quite
              • What if I happened to have knowledge that UNDER the surface of Mars there is plenty of natural resources for me and my small team of settlers to survive on?

                That's great -- and exactly how are you going to get all the digging equipment, refineries, and a million other products of civilization that you don't think about over to the planet? Unless you think there is some great supply of food growing underneath the rock, you're not going to have much time to build an industrial civilization before the next

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Lord Ender (156273)
        A plus for most Americans - instantly lose 5/6 of your weight just by relocating

        Huh? Oh, I get it... you are inferring that many Americans are overweight! Ha! That's so clever! And looking around the office right now, it seems you're right! There are overweight people working here! What a hoot! You should do your own comedy bit. Such a funny guy...
        • by fossa (212602)

          Maybe he was referring to the fact that other folks talk about weight [sic] in kilograms, which won't change on the moon ;-) How much do you mass?

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        2) Mars is ugly too, but even beyond that, it won't be allowed because we won't want to screw up the natural environment for study.

        Can't study it properly if we don't go there.
        Spirit and Rover both messaged for you to go stuff yourself.

        (Apparently they're Slashdot readers -- who knew?)
    • by El Torico (732160)
      Mars is ugly too, but even beyond that, it won't be allowed because we won't want to screw up the natural environment for study.

      I don't see why Mars should have it easier than Earth. We have a whole universe to mess around with; fire up the ion drives and let's start sending our genetically modified progeny to start terraforming! Yee-haa!

    • by Thraxen (455388)
      'Never' is a long time. Given that time frame, why are you limiting potential settlements to the Moon and Mars? There are potentially billions of planets out there and they may not all be 'dead rocks'.
      • do you have any idea of the distances involved?
        • I'd say big, mind numbingly huge, unbelievably large.
          That said relativity can help a bit. go fast enough and it only takes a short time from the perspective of the travelers.
              And with a bussard ramjet the whole universe is a sea of fuel.

          Mycroft
    • by hkgroove (791170)
      But if we were to find a planet with a sun that enhanced our natural abilities, we could go there to rule; finally, to rule!
    • by turgid (580780)

      We might as well face it... settlements on planets is never going to happen.

      They said the same thing about unix on the desktop.

  • by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:21PM (#16839892)
    Let's build our moon colony in the areas where there are strange magnetic readings. And when those colonists disappear mysteriously, we can send in a crack commando team to investigate. This would lead to entertaining action, some mild humor, and perhaps even a little romance.
  • Please excuse my highly uninformed and profoundly speculative conjecture here.

    But in regards to radiation shielding, could the recent advancements in metamaterial technology possibly offer a solution?

    After all, there has been recent success with microwave radiation (albiet at a very limited and precise wavelength) - could meta-materials be concieved which block the other popular radation types?

    What would be the major hurdles to overcome?
    • Theoretically, sure - in the sense that an invisibility cloak is theoretically possible. Right now we don't have the technology to make the nanostructures (and when i say nano i mean very nano) necessary for shielding the right EM frequencies.
  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:25PM (#16839958) Homepage Journal
    Artificial magnetic shielding is surprisingly economical. Big weak fields do a fine job deflecting charged particles, and you can generate them with a superconducting cable around the rim of a crater. Polar craters (where the ice might be) are plenty cold enough for today's high temperature superconductors.
  • by Scothoser (523461) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:27PM (#16839986) Homepage

    The article is great, because it does outline the major problem facing permanent settlement on the Moon: radiation. But there are some other necessities that need to be addressed, like reinforcing of the magnetic field during solar flares, the crater's proximity to other elements for the production of power and water, and the need for solar power.

    While it's a great start, it doesn't answer all the questions, which leaves scientists and future lunar explorers with a great question: Do they build up a complex network of sites, or continue to try to find the ideal spot?

    With increasing pressure from other countries to get to the Moon first, as well as additional programs to settle the moon as a research outpost, the pressure is on. So while this is a great find, and will augment any magnetic solution that mankind could come up with, it's only part of the puzzle. That being said, it is an important part of the puzzle.

    • With increasing pressure from other countries to get to the Moon first, as well as additional programs to settle the moon as a research outpost, the pressure is on.

      "Alexander the Great, Black Death in Europe in 1347, Neil Armstrong in 1969. And which timeline are you from?"

    • by StikyPad (445176)
      But there are some other necessities that need to be addressed, like reinforcing of the magnetic field during solar flares, the crater's proximity to other elements for the production of power and water, and the need for solar power.

      Also what do to when whatever made the crater in the first place comes back!
  • While strong magnetic fields might be a benefit in the aforementioned radiation shield application, aren't there certain situations where such an environment might not be a benefit, like working with computers maybe, or being a human?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Apocalypse111 (597674)
      The magnetic fields in question don't have to be all that strong to defend against radiation - no stronger than the one you've been sitting under for your whole life that is doing the same for you now.
      • exactly - and last time i checked, magnetic fields aren't bad for people. even really strong ones. eg fMRI...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Apocalypse111 (597674)
          I'm not prepared to say that strong magnetic fields are totally harmless (more a reservation about making a statement of absolute fact rather than any belief or proof to the contrary), but at least in so far as the myth that magnetic fields cause cancer, then yes, they're harmless. Magnetic fields are not ionizing radiation.
  • Forgive the stupid question, but if all we need is a little magnetic field, wouldn't a few strategically placed Curiously Strong Magnets [thinkgeek.com] solve the problem?
  • by RMB2 (936187)
    That's no moon...
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:31PM (#16840060)
    there are things that are good for humans (water) and things that are bad for humans (radiation)

    Being a fan of light and heat but not drowning, does that make me a weird human?

    As the old saying goes: all things in moderation. Radiation's pretty useful, just as water is. Overwhelm my body with either though and things start to go wrong. In the history of humanity though, I'm guessing more people have died from too much water than too much radiation - if only due to the convenience of access to excess of one and not the other.
  • by ettlz (639203) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:36PM (#16840130) Journal
    To: Lightspeed Traveller <lbt@astro-bio.uorion.ac>
    From: Ascended Super Thingy <ast@astro-bio.uorion.ac>

    I still maintain the point that designing a black monolith in 2001 is
    a fundamental error. Be thankful you are not my student. You would not
    get a high grade for such a design :-)

    AST
    Head of Alien Protosocietal Development

  • Couldn't we just get one of the guys in the engineering drpartment to extend the Earth's magnetic shield out around the moon? I'm quite certain tht I've heard that idea proposed before ...
  • Dome. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by dlhm (739554)
    Why Can't they just make a dome over the settlement made out of the same gold coated/embedded glass that is used on space suits? Doesn't it block radiation? Wouldn't the building probably made just like the ISS be able to block radiation? Do we really need astrounauts to procreate anyway?
    • Do we really need astrounauts to procreate anyway?

      Meanwhile, at the astronaut training center...
      Fry: Ow, my sperm!
      Bender: Wow, neat. Mind if I try that again? [Points radiation gun at Fry again]
      Fry: Huh! Didn't hurt that time.
  • Or can anyone else see a small dark oblong in the middle of the picture? Kind of like a monolith...
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @12:44PM (#16840224) Homepage Journal
    Those fields are obviously pollution left behind by some fool leaving his Cavorite sphere idling in park. Will someone please think of the Selenites?
  • Wasn't the question of surviving solar radiation on the moon solved in the 60's. Those guys also figured out how to survive the Van Allen belt, so why don't we just ask them? I'm sure some of the Apollo engineers are still alive.
    • All astronauts are given a budget for allowable total exposure to radiation (I'm not sure if it's broken down by approximate wavelength or not) over their lifetimes, and also for rate of exposure over shorter time periods. These are correlated to estimated increased risk of developing cancer over their life. For example, an astronaut is allowed something like 6 months of contiguous duty on the ISS and up to 1.5 years over their life. I'm not sure if those are the actual numbers, but they're in the ballpark.
  • by nizo (81281) *
    I thought the moon got knocked out of orbit 7 years ago?


    The best part of building near a crater is you are safer from future meteor strikes; it sort of follows the whole "lightening never strikes twice" principle. Speaking of which, I wonder how lightening rods work.....

    • by ACDChook (665413)
      I wonder how lightening rods work.....
      While I can't tell you how a lightening rod works, I'd be more than happy to explain how a lightning rod works.
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @01:34PM (#16841094) Homepage Journal
    Magnetic umbrellas?
    Listen, fellas.
    Stop the rays
    Or so they tell us:
    Burma Shave
  • ...or does ejecta on the face bring up a completely different topic of conversation?
  • I think we might have found TMA-1!
  • I'm all for a moon settlement. If we're going to have astronauts, last place I want them is here on Earth. A little over a month ago, an astronaut moved into my neighborhood and simultaneously all the leaves died and fell off our oak trees. Go eat your Tang upside-down in space where you belong.
  • Don't you know what happens when you mix a magnetic field and iron-nickle asteroids floating by? Haven't these scientists ever watched cartoons? Oh, it makes me so angry!
  • big honkin space magnets.
  • ..."nuclear", we would just send a nuclear-powered rocket (an Orion-like ship might be overkill, but there are other designs as well) to the moon, carrying bulldozers and other heavy equipment (adapted to work in an oxygen-free environment, of course, and assembled from components ferried up from earth), and just tunnel/bury the settlement.

    Why the hell do we keep looking for the whiz-bang expensive solution, when there is an easy and standard solution already available and working? I'll tell you why:

    We are

  • Clearly this is a build up of magnetic radiation coming from the nuclear waste dump on the other side of the moon. [wikipedia.org]

    Nothing to worry about, it's all perfectly natural.
  • Once again, NASA ignores the possibility (perhaps probability is a better word?) that the magnetism is the result of electrical exchange between bodies in space.

    In 2005, the mission to comet Tempel 1 called Deep Impact shot a copper ball into that comet. To my knowledge, NASA scientists still have not adequately explained the results of that experiment even though plasma cosmologist accurately predicted the results *before* the impact occurred. For a thorough summary of those results, visit http://www.thu [thunderbolts.info]

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