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Moon NASA Science

NASA Strikes Gold and Water On the Moon 421

tcd004 writes "The PBS NewsHour reports: there is water on the moon — along with a long list of other compounds, including mercury, gold and silver. That's according to a more detailed analysis of the cold lunar soil near the moon's South Pole. The results were released as six papers by a large team of scientists in the journal, Science Thursday. [Note: Nature's papers are behind a paywall; for a few more details, reader coondoggie points out a a story at Network World.] The data comes from the October 2009 mission, when NASA slammed a booster rocket traveling nearly 6,000 miles per hour into the moon and blasted out a hole. Trailing close behind it was a second spacecraft, rigged with a spectrometer to study the lunar plume released by the blast. The mission is called LCROSS, for Lunar Crater Observer and Sensing Satellite."
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NASA Strikes Gold and Water On the Moon

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  • Re:cheaper mining? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:07PM (#33981558)
    A lot. First off is the fact to even send something to the moon requires a pretty big rocket, something like the Saturn V isn't cheap. Secondly, mining robots aren't hardly even used on earth, let alone on the moon. Thirdly we've found some water and some rare elements, not that we've found a lake and huge gold nuggets so we'd have to send many more missions to locate a suitable "mine".

    Will we eventually mine the moon? Yes. Will it happen in the next 5 decades? Probably not and even then, the materials mined would make more sense to be used on something like a lunar colony, not for export back to Earth.
  • Re:Gold? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Facegarden ( 967477 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:33PM (#33981726)

    I have to wonder how much of that gold was debris from the spacecraft - plating for connections, etc. Once the thing hit, I would imagine (and I am just guessing) that the plume that resulted was pretty well mixed with well-blended spacecraft.

    Oh well, with the article behind a paywall, I'm not about to find out. Nice to pay for the science - NASA - out of the taxpayers pocket, then charge us again for the results, eh?

    Thanks to google, I can find it all by myself.
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LCROSS/main/oct_21_media_telecon.html [nasa.gov]

  • Re:Gold? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Facegarden ( 967477 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:20PM (#33982280)

    The word "gold" does not appear on that page. Nor did I see anything about accounting for the metals in the spacecraft in the general sense. So I'm still in the dark. Unless there's something indirect there you expected me to follow?

    Jesus christ you're lazy!

    I don't know, poke around. They even list a number to call to get a rebroadcast version of the press conference:

    "Media Telecon: LCROSS and LRO Science Science Results of Lunar Impact10.21.10
    Date: Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010
    Time: 11 a.m. PDT / 2 p.m. EDT
    A replay of the teleconference will be available until Nov. 4, 2010 by dialing 888-566-0674 from within the United States, or 203-369-3084 internationally. Passcode is 6267."

    You complained about not being able to access the information that we have a legal right to access freely (everything NASA does is public domain, or something like that).

    I guess i figured my point went without saying, but i must have been wrong. My point was: If you look around, the information *is* available. It just might not be in the format you want. Some reporter for a newspaper sat around and listened to that press conference though, and made the data easier to get to. That paywall pays for that man's time. If you don't want to pay, NASA provides the number to call and listen yourself. Or, the other point I was trying to make, is that you could just google around. A quick search for "nasa lcross gold" brought up:
    http://www.universetoday.com/76329/water-on-the-moon-and-much-much-more-latest-lcross-results/ [universetoday.com]

    I'm sure NASA will put the data online at some point, but people have to write reports and all that. Until then, your options are pretty clear, and I don't see any cause to complain, except to be annoying.

  • OK. so the mass of the moon is, oh about 7.346 x 10^22kg [wolframalpha.com] that's approximately 73459000000000000000 tonnes. If we extract, say, 1 million tonnes of stuff from the moon, that's about 1.3 x 10^-17 %, also known as a poofteenth of a percent.
    According to my calculations, this will be enough to move the moon closer to us by about 4.76 x 10^-11 metres or approximately the diameter of a hydrogen atom.

  • by pjt33 ( 739471 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @02:15AM (#33983126)

    Some of the damage we've done is visible from the moon. Take the Aral sea: down from almost 70000 square kilometres to under 20000.

  • Re:cheaper mining? (Score:2, Informative)

    by luther349 ( 645380 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @05:36AM (#33983784)
    moon rocks go for much more then 59.99 lol. as long as you can prove its legit. more along of the line of 10K +.
  • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:02AM (#33984018)
    In space, it becomes just yet another metal, and not a particularly useful one at that (as opposed to things like silver, platinum, palladium, etc). And transporting the stuff back to Earth would be more expensive than its value, and hence quite uneconomical.
  • Re:elements (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @07:40AM (#33984108) Journal

    When talking about Conduction though it is good to specify electrical conduction or heat conduction. They are definitely correlated, but not equivlent.

    The best known heat conductor is diamond, but diamond is a terrible conductor of electricity.

    It is also good to specify the arrangement in question. Consider that the best heat conductor is diamond, but graphene is not a very good heat conductor.

    The most common solid phases of silver are among the best electrical conductors known, although that status does depend on the temperature in question, since for example, at superconducting temperatures, superconductors easily beat out silver.

    As for uses of Gold. Gold's most notable attributes are relatively high heat and electrical conductivity, its appearance, the ability to easily create thin wires or thin sheets of it, and its highly inert nature (including not oxidizing).

    Just about all practical applications (as opposed to vanity applications) of gold could use some other metal, however, due to those properties gold is often seen as the better choice. For example, even microelectronics could use other metals in place of gold, but in such applications gold is often used as very fine wires, so even slight oxidation could be problematic, and further most other metals are far more difficult to shape into such fine wires.

  • Re:Gold? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Foobar of Borg ( 690622 ) on Friday October 22, 2010 @08:02AM (#33984184)

    Scientists are humans too - they have an interest in publishing positive results, so they might ignored some inconvenient facts - worth checking.

    And when someone else determines that the "positive results" are hogwash, they are shown to be a bunch of fools and lose their valuable reputation.

    Funny how this whole "peer review" thing works.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2010 @08:45AM (#33984364)

    No wai! Cold ribs are blech, and rewarmed arn't much better

    As for the Budweiser, there's no way you could get that stuff cold enough to taste good.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday October 22, 2010 @10:54AM (#33985268) Homepage Journal

    Gold is very useful for plating electrical connections. It's nearly as conductive as silver but doesn't oxidise like silver does.

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