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NASA Moon Science

NASA's LCROSS Mission Proves Lunar Ice Suspicions 177

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the water-is-wet dept.
NASA is reporting that preliminary data from the LCROSS mission indicates that there really is water in one of the permanently shadowed lunar craters, just as they suspected back in September. "'We are ecstatic,' said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. 'Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water.'"
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NASA's LCROSS Mission Proves Lunar Ice Suspicions

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  • Whats the hold up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thenextstevejobs (1586847) on Friday November 13, 2009 @03:33PM (#30090632)
    Base on the moon! Lets go fuckers!
  • Re:Alright... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alcohol Fueled (603402) on Friday November 13, 2009 @03:35PM (#30090652) Homepage
    I, for one, welcome our new drunken Moon landing alien overlords. :)?
  • Drill baby drill! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Friday November 13, 2009 @03:36PM (#30090680) Homepage
    So now we need to get up there with some drilling equipment and figure out if there's actually water beneath the surface or if the only water on the moon is trace amounts leftover from the occasional comet impact.
  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday November 13, 2009 @03:57PM (#30090906) Homepage

    The hold up? Probably the part where a base on the moon is pointless and exceedingly expensive? I mean, sure, it'd be cool... but let's be reasonable, here: there is *nothing* on the moon worth getting (and before you He3-fusion wankers chime in, go read this [bautforum.com]).

  • by yincrash (854885) on Friday November 13, 2009 @04:04PM (#30091028)
    the view of earth
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2009 @04:19PM (#30091238)

    What's the hold up?

    Sadly, it is the elephant in the room; Mineral Rights.

    Capitalism, will eventually rear its ugly head on this one. We know there's water, as well as salts, metals, He3.... With the amount of clout Corporations have, and the number of 'elected representative' they've put into office, we won't be going to the moon until the powers that be have sorted it all out in the back room. Altruism, and space exploration for the benefit of mankind is on the down swing. Economics, by way of profits, has been god for a while now, and isn't going to falter into that dark abyss anytime soon.

    The adventurer in me, wants and knows we should be up there traipsing on the moon as I type. The realist in me knows it won't happen for at least a decade, regardless of what else is discovered.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2009 @04:56PM (#30091678)

    Pointless? That's pretty much the reason you don't design interplanetary vehicles. :) Go and look at the space shuttle. Now look at the space shuttle compared to the size of the fuel tanks needed to lift it into orbit. I'll wait. Hell I'll even give you a link. http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/shuttle-mir/multimedia/photos/sts-79/79p-065.jpg [nasa.gov] Notice anything? The space shuttle is pretty small compared to all the fuel required to break orbit isn't it? The fuel required to leave moon orbit is astronomically smaller than the fuel required to leave earth orbit. Setting up a manned moon base would be the first step into real interplanetary travel. Your quip that it is "exceedingly expensive" is laughable when you look at how much money the US wastes daily on war and other negative influences to humanity.

  • by whois_drek (829212) on Friday November 13, 2009 @04:58PM (#30091712)
    There's nothing worth "getting" at the Lagrange points, or geosynchronous orbit, or any number of places. That doesn't mean it's not worth going there.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:01PM (#30091756) Homepage

    We all know that the reason to have a moon base is to build a libertarian utopia [wikipedia.org].

    Some actual serious reasons:
    1. We'd get off this rock for more than a quick visit. If you're looking at major achievements of humanity, I'd think that would definitely rank somewhere significant.
    2. Because we'd be off this rock, we'd have a good environment to test handling that sort of thing from an engineering standpoint, with the possibility of a much more manageable return if something were to go wrong. Important questions like "how do we handle the issue of solar radiation", "Can we grow enough plants in controlled environments to sustain an off-Earth colony", and so forth.
    3. Heck, I'd pay good money to walk on the moon.

    In short, this sort of thing isn't about making cash, it's about taking yet another small step for mankind. Yes, that requires looking past your lifetime, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing.

    Water is good news. I'm sure there's going to be lots of water reclamation equipment for any base we do end up building, but having external sources of water is a definite plus.

  • by jhfry (829244) on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:06PM (#30091802)

    Better yet... H2O has a great O element... and you can breathe it!

    So, suppose you could drill down and hit a well of ice. A bit of solar energy pumped into that frozen mass yields liquid water, a bit more gives hydrogen and oxygen. Now you have fuel (fire) and air and water. Earth will be the tough element to obtain. I don't imagine that moon soil is all that good for planting, and most plants need nitrogen that may not be easy to come by on the moon.

    Either way... water far more valuable when you realize that its not just water but O and H too.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:17PM (#30091960) Homepage

    What about Cheaper mission costs if shuttles can be assembled on the moon and then launched from there with low orbit?

    Yes, because that's *so* much cheaper than just building them in orbit. Yes, let's ferry all those materials hundreds of thousands of miles to the moon and then sink them in another gravity well... that'll be *so* much better.

  • by StikyPad (445176) on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:21PM (#30092000) Homepage

    It's better for us as a society to try new things than to be paralyzed in debate over cost/benefit analysis.

    A base on the moon is a good interim step, learning to crawl before we walk, and while it may not have any known payoffs in material gains, the increased knowledge will be priceless. Further, it's a lot easier to resupply and make significant changes on the moon than on a distant planet.

    There's a reason we test designs on earth as much as possible before we launch them, and it's the same reason we should be testing designs for human habitation on the moon before we try them elsewhere.

    Unless you think there's no point in exploration period, which ignores the entirety of human history and a good portion of its technological advances.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:25PM (#30092038) Homepage

    That was a pretty ignorant post on He3 mining due to the exaggerated cost estimate, lack of local manufacture, and ignorance of other materials found in lunar regolith.

    Given that the moon is composed of largely the same minerals as those on earth, you'd have to massively deplete our terrestrial resources before mining the moon became even *remotely* cost effective.

    Even if it does require half a million tons of equipment, that equipment can be made on the Moon rather than launched from Earth at $40k or even $4k per ton.

    Uh... from what, exactly? Or do you plan to bootstrap and entire manufacturing sector on the moon and *then* start mining He3?

    If you can get the overall fusion power infrastructure including lunar mining to under say, a couple of trillion dollars, then you could switch over the US electricity and heating infrastructure completely to lunar-fueled fusion power. My view is that this mining infrastructure could probably be made and deployed for hundreds of billions of dollars *or less* once manufacture is established on the Moon.

    Wait wait... let me get this straight. *If* you can build a fusion power infrastructure *and* lunar mining, including an *entire manufacturing base on the moon*, for under a *couple of trillion dollars*, a moonbase is suddenly worthwhile?

    Wow. That's a really convincing argument, there. ::rollseyes::

    Or we could just get Hydrogen-Boron fusion working, which runs at lower temperatures, and uses materials easily available on earth.

    But you're right. I'm sure your idea is much better.

    All of these would be byproducts of such a vast mining operation. Revenue from this operation would be more than just He3.

    None of which is worth the cost of retrieval. All are exceedingly common, save for helium, which, conveniently, is a by-product of H-H fusion, and so if we ever did manage to develop controlled fusion, we could just make it ourselves.

  • by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc.famine@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday November 13, 2009 @08:50PM (#30093822) Homepage Journal

    The moon is NOT "composed of largely the same minerals as those on earth". It's got far less metals and useful stuff than earth. As far as we can tell, the moon is the splashed-off surface of the earth, after an impact with another body.
     
    The heavy, useful stuff like metal didn't really make it to the moon in any good quantity - it's mostly the lighter silica that the upper crust is made up of. Recall that most of our metals come from mines - those holes which go deep into the ground.
     
    If you want to make glass and ceramics, maybe the moon would be an ok source for materials. But for anything else, it's terrible.

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