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Moon NASA Space

How NASA Will Bomb the Moon To Find Water 280

Posted by kdawson
from the black-eye-on-green-cheese dept.
mattnyc99 writes "A few weeks ago we got first word of NASA's plan to crash a spacecraft into the moon next February. The new issue of Popular Mechanics has an in-depth look at the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite and its low-cost, lightning-fast mission prep — even if delays have pushed it to late February or early March. Quoting: 'Andrews had no budget for an expensive lander to seek water, and conditions in the eternally dark polar craters would kill rovers, with temperatures close to minus 300 F. Instead, Blue Ice and its partners at Northrop Grumman came up with a concept to bring the lunar floor out in the open.... Since engineering precision hardware would break the budget, the LCROSS team had to make existing components work together.'"
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How NASA Will Bomb the Moon To Find Water

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  • Re:Earth's Orbit? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MagdJTK (1275470) on Friday August 15, 2008 @10:59AM (#24616523)

    Well all mass exerts a gravitational pull on all mass, so yes they affect each other.

    Are you afraid this will affect the Earth's orbit around the Sun? The change will be negligible --- the energy we'd need to mess up the orbits dangerously is far beyond us.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:01AM (#24616545) Journal

    Currently, the moon is slowing moving away from the Earth. Simple physics tell us that bombing it will push out its orbit... that will affect the tides and wind here on earth... seems like a bad idea.

    The moon is smacked by meteors all the time, many much larger than any space probe could ever be. After all, it has a nasty case of acne scars. Most meteors are still usually too small to make any detectable difference. It's probably been hit by some biggies that perhaps could alter its orbit, but the average direction of the smackage either averages out or has a tendency already reflected in its current orbit. The largest impacts that created the round dark sea-like areas appear to have happened fairly soon after its formation.
         

  • Re:Earth's Orbit? (Score:5, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:01AM (#24616555) Journal
    the "bomb" weighs 5,000 pounds (2200 kg). It's most certainly been hit by heavier objects in its lifetime. The mass of the moon is ~ 7e1022 kg. Would you notice if a fly farted on you?
  • Re:Earth's Orbit? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tim C (15259) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:40AM (#24617193)

    The mass of the moon is ~ 7e1022 kg

    I think you're mixing up 7x10^22 and 7e22 there; the Moon's mass most certainly is not 7e1022 kg. Estimates for the mass of the observable universe, for example, are around 2e52 kg [wikipedia.org].

    That said I agree with your point - this will have an utterly negligible affect on the orbital dynamics of the Moon.

  • Re:Fahrenheit? (Score:2, Informative)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:40AM (#24617195) Journal

    But don't you realize the having a decimal system based around the temperature of water freezing and boiling at a very specific atmospheric pressure makes the most sense? I mean CLEARLY that is better than the Fahrenheit scale which ignores this. And all those goofy fractions. Do you really like 32 9/16 degrees? Or would you rather have 0.3125 Celsius?

    Clearly the Celsius scale is superior.

  • Re:Apparent issues (Score:2, Informative)

    by ContraMatter (1345373) on Friday August 15, 2008 @11:40AM (#24617207)
    The Author was Kim Stanley Robinson, not Ben Bova. And the space elevator wrapping around Mars had no connection with water. We could nuke the moon with everything we got and it wouldn't do jack to our eco-system. I really hope these kinds of comments are sarcastic, noodley one help us if they aren't.
  • Re:Fahrenheit? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fred Ferrigno (122319) on Friday August 15, 2008 @12:56PM (#24618477)

    I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic, but Fahrenheit is a decimal system based around the temperatures of water freezing and boiling at a very specific atmospheric pressure. 32F is defined to be the temperature at which water freezes and 212F is defined to be the temperature at which water boils. It's exactly the same thing as Celsius except for where the two points are placed.

  • Re:Fahrenheit? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:27PM (#24619049)

    Well, yes -- exactly the same thing except for where the two points are placed. Unfortunately that means that both the meaning of "zero degrees" changes (obviously), and the magnitude of one degree changes, which pretty much means it's not the same thing at all. The only thing they share in common is the thing they express in units (temperature).

  • by spyder913 (448266) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:34PM (#24619183)

    Granite contains Uranium. Get a geiger counter and test the nearest granite countertop and be amazed!

    Of course, it's not *dangerous*, but it is definitely radioactive.

  • Re:Earth's Orbit? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MagdJTK (1275470) on Friday August 15, 2008 @01:36PM (#24619211)

    Are you afraid this will affect the Earth's orbit around the Sun? The change will be negligible --- the energy we'd need to mess up the orbits dangerously is far beyond us.

    I though it was well within our current power to fuck up the Earth's orbit. Given that the whole time I was growing up we were constantly told we could "blow up the Earth 20 gazillion times over" I was under the impression that we could fairly easily knock it off kilter.

    When people say we could blow up the entire Earth, they really mean we could cover the surface of the Earth in nuclear explosions. It would kill all of us, but the Earth wouldn't care. It would just keep trundling along as ever.

    Some maths: Suppose we wanted to increase the speed of the Earth by 1m/s. Kinetic energy = mass * speed^2, so (as the mass of the Earth is 5.9736*10^24 kg) we'd need 5.9736*10^24 joules. A megaton explosion is 4.184*10^15 J, so we'd need the equivalent of about a billion megatonnes of TNT. That's about one hundred million pretty big nukes (assuming all the energy of the nukes goes into the Earth's movement, which it wouldn't). And that's just to accelerate the Earth by 1m/s. And when you add to that the fact that the Earth's orbit is stable (so we need a lot of movement to do any real damage), you can see how little we could really do.

    Hope that makes sense!

  • by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:22PM (#24620711) Homepage Journal

    Most of the radioactivity in stone and ceramic building materials is from potassium 40 decay, not uranium.

  • Re:Earth's Orbit? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cecil (37810) on Friday August 15, 2008 @03:41PM (#24620955) Homepage

    Even if we could blow up the Earth several times over (we can't), doing that requires orders of magnitude less energy than actually changing the Earth's orbit. If you blow up the Earth into millions of tiny little chunks, all those tiny little chunks will keep happily orbiting the sun (See: Asteroid belt) at very nearly the current speed and path that the Earth currently travels.

    An object with the mass of the Earth, travelling through space at the speed that it is, has an unbelievable amount of kinetic energy. We can divide it up into smaller pieces, but actually changing the amount of orbital energy in the entire mass is rather far beyond us.

  • by CrapmasterFlash (1345553) on Friday August 15, 2008 @06:08PM (#24622471)
    How soon we forget the lessons from 2002's prescient "The Time Machine". Remember what happened to the jerks who tried to blast out the moon to build luxury condos?... For all of you out there who think this is a great idea: don't come crying to me when the only public technology left is a sheet of glass with a talking hologram of Orlando Jones.

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