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Moon NASA Space Science

Europe's Space Agency Wants To Do What NASA Can't 136

Posted by timothy
from the can-we-borrow-your-studio? dept.
coondoggie writes "The European Space Agency is moving forward with a plan to land an autonomous spacecraft on the moon by 2017, with the idea a manned vehicle could land there sometime in the future. It's a mission NASA had on its roadmap before the current budget debate, but such plans seem doomed now. The ESA is now seeking proposals for a lunar lander that would land on the south polar region of the Moon, which possible deposits of water ice, heavily cratered terrain, and long periods of sunlight make promising for explorers and scientists, the agency stated."
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Europe's Space Agency Wants To Do What NASA Can't

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 01, 2010 @08:16PM (#31703780)
    I do hereby formally propose April 1 as International Internet Abstinence day.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @09:04PM (#31703958)
    how about we solve the cost issue of just getting into orbit, and work on alternative propolsion systems to get places faster before blowing our cookies over manned trips to the moon, which add NOTHING of scientific value and solve no problems.

    a manned trip to mars would be the only goal i could think of that would truely be worth the price tag for an achievement just to say we have done it (similar to why we went to the moon), with all our technology we are still yet to walk on another planet.

  • NASA Can't? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Liquidrage (640463) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @09:08PM (#31703962)
    Really? So NASA can't send an unmanned lander to the lunar surface?

    First of all, NASA has done this several times. Second of all, NASA is great at seeking proposals to do things they won't do, which is all the story from the ESA side is at this point. And lastly, I want do to do things NASA can't, who doesn't? You know, like, get /. to stop posting shitty stories.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 01, 2010 @09:39PM (#31704050)

    Imagine having hundreds of hubble-class telescopes actively scanning for mining targets worth $20,000B ea. requiring little to no propellant to harvest. Gravitational corridors [physorg.com] exist that travel through the solar system that require minimal fuel. Materials science is close to being able to construct suitable solar sails [wikipedia.org] capable of freely traveling the solar system. We're not quite where we need to be for moving to space, but it's a helluva lot closer than most people think.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday April 01, 2010 @10:13PM (#31704126) Journal
    We already did it. With both automated systems and manual. Multiple times. Likewise, we have landed a number of different systems using different approaches on Mars. ESA still has not put one on mars (though apparently into it) or any place that requires something difficult (doing a parachute on titan is not that difficult).

    Personally, I would rather that NASA get our CHEAP private space into orbit and help them get multiple destinations for money (via bigelow aerospace private space stations), while working on new approaches on putting a real base on the moon and mars.

    With that said, I am glad that ESA is working towards doing a system to actually land on a planet/moon using active systems. It will be a good education for them.
  • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday April 01, 2010 @10:58PM (#31704236) Homepage

    Imagine having hundreds of hubble-class telescopes actively scanning for mining targets worth $20,000B ea. requiring little to no propellant to harvest.

    Why when it can be done from the surface of the Earth?
     

    Gravitational corridors exist that travel through the solar system that require minimal fuel.

    Sure, so long as you don't have anything resembling a deadline. (I.E. the savings in fuel for a manned mission would be completely obliterated by the increased life support requirements.)
     

    Materials science is close to being able to construct suitable solar sails capable of freely traveling the solar system.

    Solar sails *are* a cool technology - if you're a very small unmanned package with years and years to get where you're going. They pretty much suck, like the gravitational corridors, if you're a manned craft.
     

    We're not quite where we need to be for moving to space, but it's a helluva lot closer than most people think.

    That's probably because 'most people' are completely oblivious to the issue at all. Most of the rest of us aren't, but do know the difference between hand waving speculation and hard engineering.

  • Re:Why even go? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Friday April 02, 2010 @04:51AM (#31704998) Journal

    I do not know why someone modded you a troll on your post. Well, unless someone thought Troll was synonymous with ignorant and tried to be ironic which is humorous to say the least.

    Anyways, the water in your back yard is very expensive to get into space. In fact, it's so expensive that stopping on the moon to pick it on the way to mars or wherever up would ultimately be cheaper then taking it from earth. Imagine carrying a pale of water up a 300 meter incline to dump into a pool. Now imagine you have to fill this pool up which would require 2379 trips with a 5 gallon pale to fill a 24 foot pool. Now imagine doing the same with a 300 meter trip across level land. That's not quite the different in effort and energy that would be spent but should give you an idea.

    As for mining, well, they say there is plenty of Helium-3 [wikipedia.org] on the moon (or so they say) and just one cargo bay of the space shuttle full of it could supply all of the US's energy demands for at least one year. Of course that would require cold fusion to be more then a pipe dream but Helium-3 is currently rare on earth so a cleaner energy source could be one product other then water for future space exploration that could be mined.

    But lets go back to the water for instance. Suppose a manned mission to mars was going to take 4 people to mars and back. Now they say you should drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Your food will provide about 20% of the total fluid intake so you need to add more water to remain healthy. But lets ignore that and the entire if your active you need more and so on and take a safe constant of 8-8ounce glasses of water per day. Now there is 128 ounces in a gallon and 8 8-ounce glasses is 64 ounces. Times that by the 4 people and you have 256 ounces or 2 gallons of water for each day. Of course this doesn't account for laundry or bathing or anything, just to drink. So it takes between 6-8 months to reach mars and the same to return. At a round 30 days to a month, that's 360-480 gallons of water one way or 720-960 gallons round trip. At 8.3 pounds to a gallon of water, you are looking at 5,976-7,968 pounds (3614kg) extra to lift off from earth. At $5 to $10K per pound to launch into space, we are looking at roughly 59 millon just to get the water up there.

    Of course they wouldn't actually send that kind of water up as they could recycle most of it (if you don't mind drinking refined wastes). But solar panels could split the water into oxygen and hydrogen, compress them to a liquid state, and supply the fuel for the trip back or maybe even a detour. Getting to the water on the moon could be the key to doing what you would like with other planets/destinations.

  • by Dollyknot (216765) on Friday April 02, 2010 @06:48AM (#31705232) Homepage

    The high cost to the human race's colonization of space, is caused by the complexity and danger of reaching and leaving escape velocity within the earth's atmosphere, whilst dragging the fuel with which this is achieved up from the earth's gravity well, this is illogical when a supply of rocket fuel is close at hand on the moon.

    The Space Shuttle turned out to be an expensive and dangerous white elephant, the reason the Shuttle was so expensive is, because of its complexity with millions of different manufactured parts and the requirement to lift the fuel up from the earths surface with which it achieves escaped velocity.

    There is another route, we can reach the edge of space no problem Burt Rutan proved this with Space Ship one, when he won the 'X' prize by reaching over 100 km twice in one week.

    Yes the Shuttle was 'reusable' but in name only. They could not have turned that around in a week.

    One idea could be to create rocket fuel on the moon, there is lots of water on the moon, use solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen which makes very good rocket fuel.

    Use robot technology controlled from the earth to create the rocket fuel.

    Use the rocket fuel to fuel a space tug, use the space tug to accelerate and decelerate Space Ship one, to and from escape velocity in the safety of a vacuum.

    The moon is the door to the solar system

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