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Moon NASA Space Science Technology

NASA Finds Major Ice Source In Moon Crater 103

Posted by Soulskill
from the water-the-chances dept.
coondoggie writes with news that a NASA survey of the moon's Shackleton crater by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided data indicating as much as 22% of the crater's surface may be covered in ice. "The team of NASA and university scientists using laser light from LRO's laser altimeter examined the floor of Shackleton crater. They found the crater's floor is brighter than those of other nearby craters, which is consistent with the presence of small amounts of ice. ... The spacecraft mapped Shackleton crater with unprecedented detail, using a laser to illuminate the crater's interior and measure its albedo or natural reflectance. The laser light measures to a depth comparable to its wavelength, or about a micron. That represents a millionth of a meter, or less than one ten-thousandth of an inch. The team also used the instrument to map the relief of the crater's terrain based on the time it took for laser light to bounce back from the moon's surface. The longer it took, the lower the terrain's elevation. ... The crater, named after the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, is two miles deep and more than 12 miles wide. Like several craters at the moon's south pole, the small tilt of the lunar spin axis means Shackleton crater's interior is permanently dark and therefore extremely cold."
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NASA Finds Major Ice Source In Moon Crater

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  • Fascinating! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:54PM (#40389885)

    I remember reading up on Shackleton Crater a while back, when I was trying to write a sci-fi story (it never really got anywhere - sorry!). I needed a name for the main character, most surnames are based on either location or occupation. At the time of the story, humanity is just beginning to spread beyond the solar system, so the Moon's been inhabited for quite some time. Thus: Captain Ran fr'Shackleton (I'm also a bit of a Tolkien fan, so I tried to think about how the language will change over the next few centuries - we seem to like shortening things, so I cut a syllable out of the common cognomen "Ryan" and abbreviated "from").

    Anyways...

    We've long suspected that there was ice there, and several other factors made this a quite good location for a moonbase (good terrain, relatively well-explored, and a crater in general is a good idea because it will help protect against radiation). If it really does have that much ice, it might actually go from "theoretically possible" to "economically feasible" to build a moonbase.

  • Re:MIGHT (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dan828 (753380) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:55PM (#40390695)
    The moon's axial tilt is far less than the earth's. Only about 1.5 degrees as opposed to about 23.5 degrees for the earth. The only difficulty is that the solar arrays would have to be almost vertical, be just finding a nice hillside for them would solve that.
  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:02PM (#40390819)

    What's the point of leaving natural resources in place?

  • Re:MIGHT (Score:4, Interesting)

    by trout007 (975317) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:13PM (#40392509)

    We are working on it.

    https://www.facebook.com/NASA.ISRU [facebook.com]

In the sciences, we are now uniquely priviledged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand. -- Gerald Holton

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