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Moon Space Science

Site for Moon Base Determined 738

Deinhard writes "Going hand-in-hand with the recent discussion on Moon Bases, Space.com is reporting that the perfect spot for a moon base has been found. According to the article, 'the best spot to settle on the Moon may be on the northern rim of Peary crater, close to the north pole.' What makes the location so important is that it is permanently lit, with a balmy -58 Fahrenheit (-50 C)."
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Site for Moon Base Determined

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  • Slashdot polls work (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 14, 2005 @12:53PM (#12235166)
    I bet it was all triggerd by our poll [slashdot.org]
  • Re:Always??? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ayaress ( 662020 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @12:57PM (#12235241) Journal
    Eclipses are relatively rare. It's one thing to have to run off stored energy for a few hours a couple times a year tops, it's another one to have to run off batteries for half of every month.
  • Re:Permanently? (Score:3, Informative)

    by brontus3927 ( 865730 ) <edwardra3@gmailTIGER.com minus cat> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:00PM (#12235275) Homepage Journal
    An eclipse lasts a few minutes. It would take at least that long for the heat trapped in the rocks to be released into space. Eclipses would be an inconvience (necessitating battery storage and running the base at minumum power)
  • Re:Why bother? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ogive17 ( 691899 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:03PM (#12235323)
    Current space ships use up most of their fuel leaving Earth's atmosphere. If a manned trip to Mars was to happen, they would have to refuel unless they wanted to take 3 or 4 years to get there (and the water/food needed for that trip would make a launch straight from Earth basically impossible).
  • by Ayaress ( 662020 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:11PM (#12235447) Journal
    You've got it backwards. Take a look [infoplease.com] at the numbers. The maximum possible number of lunar eclipses per year is three.

    What you're thinking is that when there is an eclipse, it's visible everywhere on earth, I think. Solar eclipses are only visible in certain places.

    The alternative is that you're thinking of solar eclipses, and just completely wrong. The maximum possible number of solar eclipses visible from ANYWHERE on earth in the same year is five (also worth noting that if there are five solar eclipses, there can only be two lunar eclipses).

    Furthurmore, of those maximum of three eclipses per year, not all of them are total. The north or south pole sometimes escapes them. If the north rim of the moon is visible, then the north pole station will remain lit.

    Now, when there is a lunar eclipse, the maximum length is two hours for a partial eclipse, and 1 hour 42 minutes for a total eclipse.

    In the worst possible case scenario, a north polar base on the moon will have to run without solar power for a total of six hours a year, broken into three two-hour blocks.
  • Re:Lunar eclipse (Score:3, Informative)

    by databoing ( 259158 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:11PM (#12235449)
    *BZZT!* Wrong! Thanks for playing!

    A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is in the umbra or penumbra ("shadow" for you laypeople) of the EARTH.

    A SOLAR eclipse occurs when the moon gets between the earth and the sun.

    Solar eclipses are more common (once every 2 years, offhand), than lunar eclipses (once every 4 years).
  • Re:Why bother? (Score:4, Informative)

    by brontus3927 ( 865730 ) <edwardra3@gmailTIGER.com minus cat> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:17PM (#12235523) Homepage Journal
    While I support going to the Moon, I don't think the "stepping stone" arguement is valid, for the reasons you list above. As Zubrin points out in his Case for Mars, greater delta v (change in velocity, which equates to fuel) is required to get from Earth to Moon to Mars than Earth to Mars. However, it's not the only reason to go. Why go:
    • "Dark" or Far side of the Moon. Great for radio astronomy because you have a giant rock (the Moon) permenantly between the disk and the source of noice (Earth radio).
    • Abundant source of Helium-3 He3 is an isotope of Helium with only one neutron. Fusion research currently deals with Dueterium (D)-Tritium (T) (Hydrogen with 1 neutron and with 2 neutrons respectively) fussion which is "dirty" in the respect that is spews radioactive neutrons. D-He3 fusion, on the other hand, has very little radioactivity (most of it due to unspent fuel). Helium 3 is relatively rare on Earth, but could meat current power needs for 100 years (IIRC). By that time, we should have the tech to scope He3 out of Jupiter's atmosphere.
    • low-G (not zero/micro-G) research. It has applications.
    • retirement? low-G is easier on the heart & bones withouth the pesky decalicification.
    • Solid base for manufacturing. All the benefits of zero-G manufacturing, but something solid to bolt the machinary to.
  • by Greg Wright ( 104533 ) * on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:17PM (#12235534) Journal
    I also know of no volcanic activity that has taken place in the past,
    however, I think they *are* talking about Lunar(our moon) bases. At
    least what I can gather from this:

    "Evolving Lunar Lava Tube Base Simulations with
    Integral Instructional Capabilities"


    In part:

    "The concept of lunar bases inside lunar lava tubes was suggested by
    F. Horz in his 1985 paper, "Lava Tubes: Potential Shelters for
    Habitats." Lava tubes are made by crusting over of lava channels
    (Greeley, 1971; Harter & Harter III, 1982; Greeley & Spudis,
    1986). Lunar lava channels, or sinuous rilles, some of which appear to
    have uncollapsed roof segments, have measured widths of from 200m to
    1.5km. Roof thickness in excess of 10m provides meteorite and
    radiation shielding and moderation of surface temperatures (Horz,
    1985). An entrance is easily cleared into the shielded environment of
    a tube for the largest machinery."

    I guess there must have been some in the past. Later in the document
    they go on to talk about Mars as well.
  • Re:Solar Radiation? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MoralHazard ( 447833 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:19PM (#12235555)
    Have you ever heard of a little thing called the "International Space Station"? Yeah, exactly.

    If you leave Earth's protective envelope, you do become subject to larger exposures of radiation, but the danger can be minimized with shielding. People can take a decent amount of radiation exposure before they show any health effects, even the long-term cancer risks.

    Basically, you just have to build sheltered structures for the inhabitants to block the radiation. It can be a choice of construction materials, or you can just bury the structures and pile regolith on top--the old bomb shelter solution. All it takes is a bulldozer and some internal supports, and you've got a pretty nice shelter.

    Spacesuits aren't very good radiation protection, so they'll probably impose daily, monthly, and mission-specific limits on outdoor activities for inhabitants. If they also keep alert to solar activity, they can just head indoors when the worst stuff is coming.

    How can you keep alert to incoming radiation, you ask? The ionizing, harmful parts of solar radiation are mostly charged particles, which travel slower than the speed of light. Big emissions of charged particles happen in conjunction with particular types of electromagnetic radition, which DOES travel at the speed of light (duh). So we look for the EM radiation that signals a coming charged particle storm, and tell the moonies to get indoors quick.

    Not perfectly safe, but come on: they're on the fucking moon.
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:29PM (#12235681) Homepage
    Yes, just a big rock, chock full of raw materials we need for your trip to Mars, and with only 1/6 the gravity and no atmosphere, it's easy to get those materials into orbit.

    "Skipping" the moon is sheer lunacy (pardon the pun). Once established, the Moon Base will py for itself countless times over.

    No offense, but that's complete horseshit.

    What you've got in the moon is the potential for a small base that will forever be completely dependant on Earth for supplies. It's water-poor, the dust is an extreme health hazard, there's no atmosphere to protect you from solar radiation or run internal combustion engines in. Unless you're there to harvest H3, there's no point in being there. If you're planning on going to Mars, it's worse than a wasted step -- it's not a good financial move, it's not a good place to practice techniques for Mars and it's a far more hostile environment.

    The moon base was included in NASA's 90 Day Report because it was part of a gigantic wishlist of projects that NASA wanted funding for. Space stations, moon bases, new vehicles, giant interplanetary ships, space girls in tin foil bikinis, etc. That's why we're no closer to Mars now than we were then.

    The fastest, easiest and cheapest way to get to Mars is to skip things like the moon and on-orbit assembly and to use heavy lift vehicles directly from earth. Use as much existing off-the-shelf tech as you can and then launce opposition missions to spend large amounts of time on the Martian surface with the specific objective of finding a good location for and establishing a base.

    You won't get to Mars by making stupid, wasteful moves, and a moon base is just that.

  • Re:Moon race, part 2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by brontus3927 ( 865730 ) <edwardra3@gmailTIGER.com minus cat> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:32PM (#12235702) Homepage Journal
    Under the Moon Treaty [greaterearth.org], the Moon is international domain, just like Antartica
  • by tquinlan ( 868483 ) <tom@th o m a s q uinlan.com> on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:39PM (#12235798) Homepage
    Actually, read the book. It is actually *more* costly to go to the moon first, since you have to take off, land, then take off again. That there is 1/6th the gravity does not mean that there is no gravity; consequently, you have to expend fuel to take off again.

    Did you even read the book? I didn't think so.

  • Even if we lived on the moon in a bubble, what would the long term effect of solar radiation (particle to create electrical disturbances and high energy radiation such as x rays) have on the equipment and/or body?

    Problem well known and solved - build your warrens underground. A few meters of rock will stop that nasty solar radiation, including flares.

  • Moon's Composition: [neiu.edu]
    1. Oxygen: 42%
    2. Silicon: 24%
    3. Iron: 13%
    4. Calcium: 8%
    5. Aluminum: 8%
    6. Magnesium: 6%
    7. Other (including lots of Helium-3 & Titanium): 3%
    Incidently, the largest concentration of Iron looks to be in the general area of where the article recommends putting a base
  • Re:Solar Radiation? (Score:4, Informative)

    by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:56PM (#12236053)
    All of your points are very good, yes. It is possible to block radiation.

    But the International Space Station (altitude 220 to 224 miles) remains below the inner Van Allen radiation belt (min altitude 250 miles or so in some places).

    So using it as an example of people living with solar radiation is a bad idea. They get more exposure than people on the ground, yes, due to the lack of atmosphere to block radiation, but they avoid the worst of it by staying below the earth's magnetic shields.
  • by SirCyn ( 694031 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @01:59PM (#12236109) Journal
    I think what he means is that one side of the Earth is always in darkness (facing away from the sun). What he doesn't realize is that only about 85% of the shpere is in darkness, and that both the very top and bottom (perpendicular to the light travel) always stay lit.

    In a case like the Earth where our axis of rotation is tilted, one pole (switches depeding on time of year) is always daylight. Check out the Xplanet program if you have *nix. Right now it's the north pole that always has light.

    The moon rotates around the exact same axis as it revolves around the Earth, and at the same rate. So we alwys see the same side of the moon. At the north pole of the Moon there is always light, year round. Similar to how the north pole of Earth has continous light right now (for the season anyway).
  • OK these figure seem to be getting misquoted a lot lately on Slashdot.
    The Moon has about 1/6 Earth Gravity
    Mars has about 1/3 Earth Gravity.

    Assuming a 6-foot man can jump 6 feet on Earth, he could jump about 1/(1/6)*3 + 3 feet for a total of 21 feet on The Moon, 1/(1/3)*3 +3 for a total of 12 feet on Mars. Keep in mind when a 6-foot man jumps 6 feet here on Earth he is only lifting his CENTER of gravity 3 feet with a starting height of 3 feet for it.

  • Re:Taxes (Score:2, Informative)

    by lgw ( 121541 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:41PM (#12236694) Journal
    Would you say that one should not pay income tax on one's salary because that money is paid from the income of the organization that employees one; that money was taxed when it was income of the employer (Oh no! double taxation).

    I would say exactly that! This is why the salary you pay your employess is an expense that reduces the profit's you pay taxes on as an employer. Double taxation is bad.
  • by Fareq ( 688769 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @02:41PM (#12236698)
    Just to correct a small point:

    Let's assume for the sake of argument that the definition of "the wealthy" is any family who earns more than $320,000 per year. (I am using the "Married Filing Jointly" status for this comparison. There are significant differences (unmarried individuals can earn $320,000 before entering the highest bracket, but married couples can total no more than the same $320,000 -- or about $160,000 each))

    Let's also assume that the "average schmo" is family earning, oh... $58,500 per year. (Remember, that's the couple's total, not the individual -- for this calculation, individual is $29,050)

    I am using 1999 as the standard for "before the tax cut" and 2004 as "after the tax cut". For the purposes of this calculation, I am assuming income to be the taxable income, if only to simplify calculations. I am aware that there were a myriad of little credits and deductions added to the tax code in the last several years, and that ignoring them decreases the accuracy of my comparison.

    Feel free to do more in-depth research to get more-accurate numbers.

    The Wealthy:
    in 1999, they earned $320,000 of taxable income, and were taxed as follows: (calc from the 1999 IRS Form 1040 Instructions)

    Income over $283,150: Tax 90,200.50 + 39.6% of all income over $283,150.
    $90,200 + (.396)*(320000-283150) = $104,793 in taxes.

    In 2004, they earned the same $320,000:
    Income over $319,100: Tax: $86,328 + 35% of all income over $319,100.
    $86,328 + (.35)*(320000-319100) = $86,643

    $104,793 - $86,643 = $18,150 in tax cuts, a 17% decrease in income tax.

    That's right, the family earning $320,000/yr pays 17% less now than before! Let's check out our "average schmo" family.

    If you make less than $100,000 you use the tax table instead of the rate schedule. In 1999, the tax table said married couples earning $58,500 in taxable income owe: $10,791

    Same rules apply, in 2004 the married couple owed: $8,106.

    That means the tax cut saved them
    $10,791 - $8,106 = $2,685. This means that they owe 24.8% less tax today than they did before the tax cut.

    That means the average couple saved over 24%, the wealthy couple saved about 17%. Not quite so unfair-to-the-average-schmo as you might think.

    If you disagree with my definitions of average and wealthy, feel free to plug in your own numbers. I used these because they were near the cutoff points for different tax brackets, and I assumed that the government's definition of average and wealthy were based on those numbers.


    There will be an immediate response of "bah, percentages, average-guy saved under $3k, wealthy-guy saved over $18k!" to which I can only say, you can hardly consider it fair to decrease taxes on the average individual so far that they are being *paid* by the government...
  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @03:51PM (#12237596) Journal
    The biggest problem of any Lunar undertaking is water, or more appropriately, hydrogen, as there's loads of Oxygen.

    Now, what if there just isn't that much ice in those lunar polar craters. AFAIK, there's only speculation that there may be ice there, but nothing has been proven, has it? The data is inconclusive at the moment. And even if there is ice there, there seems to be good amount of evidence that it will not be all that much, ranging from one small lake to a "sea" the size of Connecticut.

    A lot of industrial processes need water in large quantities and this may prove to be exhaustive of what little lunar ice there may be. In other words, lunar industry for water and rocket fuel might just deplete the moon's natural resources as fast as our need for oil does.

    If this worst case scenario turns out to be true, what would possible solutions be? Would it be realistic to smash an ice asteroid into the moon? I don't think we are quite capable of that just yet.

    What about artificially creating hydrogen as a by product of nuclear fission or some such process that strips a proton off an atom? According to a quick Google search, it is quite possible [climatetechnology.gov] with today's technology and there seems to be quite a lot of Uranium [msn.com] on the moon as opposed to hydrogen.

    I think that artificially generating hydrogen might actually make a lunar base more flexible with respect to positioning, although placing the base in a polar crater might help to shield it from Solar eruptions and meteor impacts.
  • by Fareq ( 688769 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @05:22PM (#12238640)
    You are correct, however

    Suppose a family of 4, both children under 18 and live at home. Tax year 2004
    Standard Deduction: $ 9,700
    Exemptions-Yourself $ 3,100
    Exemptions--Spouse: $ 3,100
    Exemptions-Children $ 6,200
    Total Deductions..: $22,100
    This means that a family of 4 pays no income tax on at least the first $22,100 of income. In addition there are credits such as the Earned Income Credit (for those making less than about $31k/yr) and the Child Credit, which can decrease your tax by several thousand dollars. Yes, they directly decrease your TAX, and can actually bring your TOTAL TAX to less than $0-- in which case the government will cut you a check for *more* than all the money witheld from your paycheck.

    Generally speaking, families of 4 making about $32,000 or less pay absolutely no income tax.

    Those making less than about $40,000 will typically pay very little, being able to deduct about $22,000, paying 10% on the next
    $14,000, and only paying the "normal" 25% rate on the last about 3,000 of income. That would make a guestimate of about $1,400 + $667 ~= $2075. And this is before the child tax credit which would decrease this by as much as $2,000 leaving a total tax liability of under $100.

    (All sorts of bizarre limitations, conditions, and restrictions apply. Contact your tax advisor (for advice), or your senator (with complaints))
  • by uberdave ( 526529 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @06:23PM (#12239218) Homepage
    I'm not sure where you're getting your equations, but clearly the man will be able to jump six times as high on the moon as on the earth, and three times as high on Mars.

    When you jump, you provide kinetic energy to your body. As you rise, the kinetic energy gets transformed to potential energy. At the top of your jump, all the kinetic energy has been converted to potential energy and you come to a stop. The potential energy then gets reconverted to kinetic energy as you fall. The potenial energy is determined by the equation u=mgh, where u is energy, m is mass of jumper, g is the gravitational force, and h is height. Or rearranged, the equation would be h=u/(mg), or height is inversely proportional to gravity.

    So, assuming the mass of the jumper and the energy put into the jump remains the same, the jump on the moon would be six times the height as on the earth.
  • by eraserewind ( 446891 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @07:50PM (#12239892)
    No it's not. The fact that it is not covered by Income Tax should tell you something. Income is money recieved in payment for goods, services, and so on. It is a tax on new wealth introduced into the economy.

    Inheritance is typically the transfer of wealth from one relative to another on their death. Since it doesn't grow (except possibly due to related "income" which is already taxed) it will diminish to nothing in a few generations if it is taxed. Which, as the guy said, is the whole point of "inheritance tax", whether you agree with it's social aim or not.
  • Re:No problem (Score:3, Informative)

    by asavage ( 548758 ) on Thursday April 14, 2005 @09:11PM (#12240368)
    This is not entirely true. Read this from NASA's website [nasa.gov]

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."