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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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  • Moonshine (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Conchobair (1648793) on Friday November 13, 2009 @03:41PM (#30090712)
    Anyone else really want to use this water to make liquor? Even if coke just bottled it, I'd drink some moon water.
  • by natehoy (1608657) on Friday November 13, 2009 @04:11PM (#30091124) Journal

    They have found water, as in H2O, not CO2.

    It may or may not be mixed with anything narsty (I'd lean toward "almost certainly does"), and it may or may not exist in sufficient quantities to be useful.

    However, this is still a potentially significant discovery. If a future expedition discovers that there's enough water up there, it could make lunar bases easier to build. After all, water is probably the single heaviest thing you'd have to carry up for a lunar base. If a ready supply is already there, that's a big start, even if you have to develop some technologies to scrub the nasties out of it before you can drink it. It's also an important building component if you want to use local materials to, say, build protective walls over your delicate settlement. Lunar adobe brick made of local dirt and local water, for example. Then you wouldn't care what contaminants are in it, as long as it could be used to solidify bricks.

  • by mindbrane (1548037) on Friday November 13, 2009 @04:17PM (#30091208) Journal

    I've no background and little education in this area but I do have an off the wall question. I have some understanding of the theory describing the initial impact from which the moon is thought to have come, and, the attendant theory that the formation of the moon may have been one of the first, big contingent happenings that drove the development of life on earth. My question centres on the material that made up the body that smashed into the early earth, added much to the earth's "girth" and gave us the present moon. Is it possible the impacting body was composed of a lot of water? There's questions surrounding how earth came to have so much water. If the impacting body that gave us the moon contained a great amount of water, the impact, formation of the moon, water on earth and the early evolution of life comes into focus as a "just so" story.

    just my loose change

     

  • Re:Whats the hold up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:44PM (#30092214) Homepage

    there is *nothing* on the moon worth getting

    Your statement may prove similar, to Bill Gates' famous predictions regarding 640k memory... How do you know, for the Moon does not have expensive commodities to mine? It is hardly explored — up until recently, we didn't even know, there is water on its surface!

    You are lacking imagination... How about vacation-destination for those, who want to experience five times lower gravity? How about retirement homes for people, too frail to move on their own on Earth — they may be able to dance on the Moon? Technics may appear exploiting the low gravity for therapies for, say, spine-injuries (such as when a person needs to re-learn, how to walk). Barring major world-conflicts, we might be able to have all or some of that within 40-60 years.

    Lower gravity may also allow for some new manufacturing methods... You name it...

    So, medicine, novelty, mining, manufacturing, what else? Oh, science! What will the scientists, able to dig a space body literally under their feet, be able to find out about Space in general, and Solar System in particular? What discoveries — some of them even with prompt practical applications — await?

  • Re:Whats the hold up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by khallow (566160) on Friday November 13, 2009 @06:07PM (#30092470)
    I didn't consider any of your other points interesting. If I build hundreds of billions of dollars in lunar infrastructure, then it's a safe bet that I'll develop considerable lunar manufacture. And I wouldn't make such an investment unless corresponding Earth sources either were depleted or didn't exist (as in the case of Helium 3) in adequate quantities in the first place.

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

    This is a killer and one of the big problems now for anything coming from space. Namely, why go to space to get something, if there's an easier, cheaper Earthside solution? I was under the impression that proton-boron fusion was harder than helium3-helium3 fusion, but that doesn't turn out [askmar.com] to be the case (an interview with Richard Nebel on the Polywell fusion prototype project which he heads).

    Question: Assuming a Polywell demonstrator works in say 3-10 years, would a developed reactor be able to burn 3He/3He, or does Polywell's performance "max out" with p/11B?

    Answer: We looked at 3He/3He and concluded that the fusion reactivity was just too low. (The characteristics of 3He/3He (cross section, reactivity, Lawson criterion) are at least an order of magnitude below those for p/11B.)

    You still have deuterium-helium3 which is easier (in terms of temperature and Lawson criterion), but that's less aneutronic than hydrogen-boron (due to the presence of deuterium-deuterium fusion which generates a neutron 50% of the time it occurs).

  • Re:Whats the hold up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tetsujin (103070) on Friday November 13, 2009 @07:08PM (#30093036) Homepage Journal

    Can't we use materials that exist on the moon instead of sending them from Earth? We could probably dig some tunnels there and live under the ground, safe from the radiation. Solar panels, lights, plants, water, air. We could bring microchips, perhaps some plastics from earth, get the metals and fuel from the Moon. Also having a colony there wouldn't hurt human kind.

    It's hard to imagine any kind of mining operation on the moon being economically viable at this point in time. For what we'd have to pay (and you can think of this as a cost of "money" or of "energy" - the two concepts are equivalent to some degree) to send work crews (robotic or human) to the moon, provide them with necessary supplies, maintain them... extract the raw materials, refine them, turn them into a useful form... Sending rockets up periodically to resupply them... At the present time it would simply be far cheaper to build what we need here. Even if you figure in the cost of launching that built equipment from Earth instead of from the Moon, the benefits of not stretching our supply chain to (or beyond) practical limits during the preparatory phase of an interplanetary expedition make up for any extra cost of launching from Earth.

  • Re:Whats the hold up (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2009 @09:14PM (#30094030)
    Assuming the rockets are just as efficient, it would cost the same amount of fuel (8*1==1*8). However, you're ignoring the cost of getting the pieces down to the moon (1/6th) and back up again (another 1/6th). So, for a moon launch, you're talking 8*1+8*(1/6)+1*(8/6)==10.6666... vs 8 for a launch from Earth.

    When you're sailing from New York to London, it doesn't make sense to sail to Montego Bay first.
  • Re:Whats the hold up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Friday November 13, 2009 @10:44PM (#30094536) Journal

    "Even if you figure in the cost of launching that built equipment from Earth instead of from the Moon, the benefits of not stretching our supply chain to (or beyond) practical limits during the preparatory phase of an interplanetary expedition make up for any extra cost of launching from Earth."

    Personally, I'm not all that interested in an "interplanetary expedition" just yet.

    One of the big questions is, "Why should we have a manned space program--or any space program at all? Why send men when we can send robots cheaper, easier, and safer?" Now we all have our etherial answers about the good of mankind and science and propagating the species and yadda yadda yadda. And all that is well and good. But I think it would far better serve our purpose to get some people living and doing work in space. And not just scientific work but the kind of work that Joe Sixpack can understand--building stuff.

    There are great reasons to launch rockets from the moon rather than from Earth. One of the ones I bring up over and over is the fact that you can use things like nuclear propulsion without necessarily worrying about what happens if the rocket fails. Everybody's afraid to lift uranium out of the atmosphere--"What happens if the rocket blows up?!? We'll all die!!" Well, there's uranium on the moon. As has been said over and over, chemical propulsion isn't going to get us where we want to go.

    The idea of going to the Moon should be to stay there. Lots of useful stuff to build things with. Less gravity which is good for launching stuff, but not so much less that normal operations are hindered (as I've said in other posts, if you drop a screw it falls on the ground--it doesn't go floating off).

    When we have done this, we can build the ship that will transport explorers to Mars on the Moon.

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