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The Moon's Magnetic Umbrellas 125

eldavojohn writes "When it comes to space exploration, there are things that are good for humans (water) and things that are bad for humans (radiation). In order for exploration of the moon to occur, its lack of a global magnetic shield to block solar radiation must be addressed. Luckily, scientists have discovered that there are highly magnetized areas of the moon's crust that could shield settlements." From the article: "Current evidence suggests that impact-basin ejecta materials [material blasted out by huge asteroid or comet impacts] are the most likely sources of many or all of the magnetic fields ... These ejecta contain microscopic metallic iron particles that are the carriers of the magnetization."
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The Moon's Magnetic Umbrellas

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  • by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @01:19PM (#16839856) Homepage Journal

    We might as well face it... settlements on planets is never going to happen. Couple of reasons:

    1) The moon is too ugly and the gravity too light.

    2) Mars is ugly too, but even beyond that, it won't be allowed because we won't want to screw up the natural environment for study.

    The future of space settlements is space stations floating in space. We can have any environment we want (including green), we can simulate natural gravity via spinning, and we can engineer shielding. Settling other planets is romantic, but impractical, and arguably very few people would want to live on a dead rock anyway.

  • by Scothoser ( 523461 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @01:27PM (#16839986) Homepage

    The article is great, because it does outline the major problem facing permanent settlement on the Moon: radiation. But there are some other necessities that need to be addressed, like reinforcing of the magnetic field during solar flares, the crater's proximity to other elements for the production of power and water, and the need for solar power.

    While it's a great start, it doesn't answer all the questions, which leaves scientists and future lunar explorers with a great question: Do they build up a complex network of sites, or continue to try to find the ideal spot?

    With increasing pressure from other countries to get to the Moon first, as well as additional programs to settle the moon as a research outpost, the pressure is on. So while this is a great find, and will augment any magnetic solution that mankind could come up with, it's only part of the puzzle. That being said, it is an important part of the puzzle.

  • Re:Terraforming (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apocalypse111 ( 597674 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @01:30PM (#16840040) Journal
    Pretty much. The Earth is habitable primarily because of its strong magnetosphere. This magnetic field deflect a large amount of the harmful radiation (and other particles in the solar wind) that would otherwise blow away our atmosphere and fry us all. Now, the whole domed-city concept is still possible, if impractical, and there's always the possibility of building underground and using the lunar surface as a radiation shield - but terraforming? Not really.
  • Dome. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by dlhm ( 739554 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @01:37PM (#16840146)
    Why Can't they just make a dome over the settlement made out of the same gold coated/embedded glass that is used on space suits? Doesn't it block radiation? Wouldn't the building probably made just like the ISS be able to block radiation? Do we really need astrounauts to procreate anyway?
  • Re:Terraforming (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @02:13PM (#16840684) Journal
    The Earth is habitable primarily because of its strong magnetosphere.

    Showing my ignorance here but I thought the atmosphere was the key shield against radiation. The magnetic poles switch every so often and while they're switching I thought the magnetosphere pretty much collapses. Yet life appears to go on.

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