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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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  • cheaper mining? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ddxexex ( 1664191 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @07:48PM (#33981414)
    If you don't have to worry about the environment on the moon, how much gold (or rare earth metals or whatever) do you need to make a robotic lunar mining mission viable?
  • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @07:53PM (#33981450)

    It really wouldn't matter if there were miners trapped on the moon. We would just shut them down and build a few new ones, or probably have reserves on standby. Maybe we could recover them for parts when it's convenient.

    Or were you assuming humans would be doing the mining?

  • by Gavin Scott ( 15916 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:16PM (#33981632)

    It seems to me that everything that you can find on the moon (or in asteroids for that matter) can be found here on earth in similar quantities and accessed more inexpensively, probably by a factor of 1/1,000,000 or so.

    Sure, building your starship construction facility on the moon has advantages, ok, one advantage, that of 1/10 the gravity of earth, but honestly is it really cheaper to build something there rather than just do it on earth? Sure it would cost a lot more to launch stuff out of Earth's gravity well, but is it so much more expensive that it justifies the cost of learning how to do all this stuff on the moon?

    You tell me what you want to do on the moon and I'll tell you how to do it faster and cheaper here on Earth.

    There are lots of fun reasons to explore space (and maybe even the moon) but not for silver mining (and spaceport construction).

    I know people get all romantic about human space flight, but personally I'd say send the robots until we find something worth visiting in person. They're better at the job.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:27PM (#33981692)

    Think for one second about the cost of buying, transporting, and maintaining a radiation-hardened robot that can lie practically dormant at night (which lasts half a month, remember) if they run out of saved solar power.

    Now think for one second about humans, who need radiation shielding, food, water, O2 (whether they're working or not), generate waste, and create political backlash at home if abandoned/neglected.

    Now tell me again about "avoid the purchase price of the robots", with a straight face, OK?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:32PM (#33981724)

    Being concerned about the image of the lunar surface make as much sense as being concerned over how your comment impacts the aesthetics of Slashdot.

    Life is change. The Universe knows it - why don't you?

  • by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:35PM (#33981740)

    Who has the mine rights? The us? USSR? China? NASA it self? Neil Armstrong?

  • by Tanman ( 90298 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @08:51PM (#33981820)

    Is there any amount of materials on the moon that would make it profitable for a company to build the capability to mine it and ship material back to earth? I'm not sure there is. Lets say you found a boulder of gold that weighed three tons. A solid nugget. What are the costs associated with recovering that nugget? Now, realizing that they won't find that, but instead ore and other materials that need processing, there are additional considerations: Do you pay for the shipping weight of ore, or do you pay to process the ore on the moon and ship the material? If you process it on the moon, how do you handle the additional maintenance and engineering requirements?

    I didn't RTFA, but just seeing that valuable materials on the moon made me question how valuable ANYTHING is when you have to pay so much per unit of weight to retrieve it. Maybe Chuck Norris' cancer-curing tears, if they were found on the moon. But I can't think of much else.

  • Re:cheaper mining? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @09:21PM (#33981990)

    As stupid as it would be to go to the moon just for the sake of mining gold, I'd pay good money to see the looks on the faces of all the gold-hoarding doomsday-libertarians when the value of their stockpile plummets overnight.

  • Wrong moon? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:10PM (#33982238) Journal
    Liberate Titan! []
  • by Mycroft_VIII ( 572950 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @10:24PM (#33982302) Journal
    Until they revolt over the wardens inept and corrupt administration and the fact that crucial survival resources are dwindling to the danger point from being shipped to earth.
          That's when the loonies start dropping big cans of whatever is handy on earth. With difference in gravity wells it's not that hard to effect kilo or even megatons of energy release at the impact point.
          With a smart enough computer aiding in the logistics of the revolution it can happen.

  • $100k/ounce (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:08PM (#33982442)

    How much do moon rocks cost?

    Moon rocks collected during the course of lunar exploration are currently considered priceless. In 1993, three small fragments from Luna 16, weighing 0.2 g, were sold for US$ 442,500. In 2002, a safe, containing minute samples of lunar and Martian material, was stolen from the Lunar Sample Building. The samples were recovered; in 2003, during the court case, NASA estimated the value of these samples at about $1 million for 285 g (10 oz) of material. Moon rocks in the form of lunar meteorites, although expensive, are widely sold and traded among private collectors.

    - Wiki []
    ...and the moon is MADE of that shit.

    I think it's gonna be awhile.
    Hmm...unless basalt is a rare-earth element and that's why China is going there....

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

    by Iron Condor ( 964856 ) on Thursday October 21, 2010 @11:56PM (#33982624)

    What AC said above: even if Moon was solid, 24k gold, it'd not make economical sense to mine it there. End of story.

    No, not end of story by a long shot.

    Mining gold on the moon makes economic sense exactly if it results in gain in excess of the original investment. How many dollars can you charge for an ounce of, not gold, but gold from the moon? The gold market is already based strictly on what people think is valuable. The price of gold has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the price of mining gold.

    Does it even have to be gold? How about a speck of genuine moon rock (in a nice clear plastic cast) - yours for only ... $59.99? How many slashdotters would buy such a thing? What would it cost to get, say, a couple kg of that back to earth? A billion dollars? That's the price of a nice oil rig. In other words: that's the kind of money that is already available and people are already expending it because they expect a decent return on that investment.

    You may want to be just a shade more careful with calling things economically infeasable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 22, 2010 @08:01AM (#33984176)

    It'll throw off the balance of gravity and fling the moon out of orbit.

    We should replace all the mass we remove. So... lets turn it into a garbage dump as we mine.

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