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Moon Science

Simulation Using LRO Data Shows More Locations With Ice on the Moon 55

ananyo writes "Water ice on the Moon may be more widespread than previously thought. Permanent shadows have been spotted far from the lunar poles, expanding the number of sites that would be good candidates for exploration by robotic rovers — or even for the locations of lunar bases."
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Simulation Using LRO Data Shows More Locations With Ice on the Moon

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  • Forget the probes, lets land up there and start exploring!

    • by flyneye ( 84093 )

      Giant steps are what you take...

      Walking on the moon.

      I hope my leg don't break...

      Walking on the moon.
                                                                        --Police "Walking on the Moon"

      In the news today "Sting breaks leg on lunar Ice, sues Virgin Galactic Tours"

  • Ice means raw materials for fuel and oxygen to breathe. This is exciting news. We need to get up there. The smaller gravity well will make it an ideal place to stage missions to other parts of the Solar System.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @07:41PM (#41519839) Homepage Journal

    but they don't know for sure.

    Radar instruments on orbiting spacecraft allow some study of the ice, but close-up observations are needed to confirm any findings, says Speyerer.

    Why don't they put a satellite in a really close orbit around the moon and take a look with color cameras? By close I mean like 1km altitude (as opposed to earth satellites which need several hundred km altitude due to the atmosphere).

    Ice is white, lunar surface is dark, should be easy to know for sure.

    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @08:07PM (#41520047) Homepage Journal

      Because the ice can only be in places which are absolutely dark. Any direct or reflected sunlight and the ice will sublimate. Most likely it is hidden under the surface or in narrow gaps between rocks.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The fact that there is ice is not a reason to go. We have plenty of ice right here. If we have another, logical reason to go to the moon, the ice will make it easier for us. In and of itself, it's not an attraction.
        • by rossdee ( 243626 )

          "We have plenty of ice right here."

          But its melting fast due to global warming, which is due to increased Co2 levels, caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
          It has been suggested that the polar regions of the moon may have Helium 3 - which would make it easier to achieve a working fusion plant.
          So the reason to go to the moon is not because there is ice there, although that would make setting up a base possible, and also provide the fuel for sending stuff (like He3 ) back from the moon.

      • by icebike ( 68054 ) *

        Because the ice can only be in places which are absolutely dark. Any direct or reflected sunlight and the ice will sublimate. Most likely it is hidden under the surface or in narrow gaps between rocks.

        Well if NASA can find entire buried settlements from space using Shuttle radar [], which could only penetrate 2 meters, imagine what a more powerful radar could find.

        I rather suspect that 2 feet below the surface there could be a lot of ice in a lot of places.

        Its the ultimate non-renewable resource. Used once, if not captured and stored carefully its gone into space forever.
        Stillsuits anyone?

        • Though the apollo crews found no water at all in any form. It could be that the environment on the moon causes this: lots of radiation and vacuum. Maybe they just didn't drill into any ice.

    • Forget satellites, why don't we land a bunch of cheap remote controlled rovers and explore the goddamn Moon already?!?
      • Google Lunar X Prize. Teams have qualified and are working on it. SpaceX has pledged a cut rate launch. A giant radio telescope has pledged free air time (I forget which one. Might have been the Alan Array).

        People are working on it. And not spending tax dollars to do it, either.

        • "People are working on it. And not spending tax dollars to do it, either." Too bad. I'd much rather my money was being spent on this than on killing people so rich people could get richer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kickasso ( 210195 )

      1 km altitude? Sure, that will work. Just need to tell the engineers that whoever crashes the satellite into a mountain, pays for it out of his own pocket.

      Ice is white... when not covered by dust.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You probably can't get a satellite in an orbit as close as 1km because while there isn't an atmosphere, there is topography exceeding that value. Uneven distribution of mass in the crust of the Moon also means that orbiting at that kind of altitude even if the Moon were perfectly spheroidal would also be very tricky.

      I have a better idea. It's time to pick the best candidate and *land* a rover there with the right sort of instruments to do some digging and measurements of volatile content. It's about fric

    • The lower the orbit you put a spacecraft in around the moon, the more fuel you will need in order to continually correct for the moon's various mass concentrations (the moon is very lumpy). An orbiter just a few miles above the surface will need a LOT of fuel to keep it from crashing in to the moon's surface. A 1km orbit would be completely impracticable.

      This NASA article [] explains the issue quite well.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      The ice is very unlikely to be just sitting on the surface. The moon is basically covered in unimaginably fine dust that gets onto everything. The ice would be old, and almost certainly covered in dust. Plus it's dark. Finally, why would you need a colour camera to tell the difference between "white" and "dark"?

    • The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) [] is effectively color. The Wide Angle Camera (WAC) [] on LROC has seven visible-band and two UV filters.

      Color is all done with filters. The CCD just detects light. You select for color by placing a filter in front of it to only let a chosen wavelength band through, depending on what you want to look for. You can make a color composite (what is commonly called a "color picture") by taking the same image in three different wavelength bands.

      While it is amazing, LROC i

  • Well, having a moon base would be great. Especially if there is a lot of water ice. Should be easy to maintain a manned base there. But guess what we (USA) aren't going back there for a while. And China is making plans to get there well before we get back to the moon. So if/when the U.S. decides to go back to the moon maybe China will let us land.
    • by brisk0 ( 2644101 )
      China has signed and ratified the U.N. Outer Space treaty, meaning they don't have any influence on whether U.S. vehicles can land (and they as a state can't have jurisdiction on the moon). Of course they could easily ignore the treaty, but I imagine that for China it would be easier to just not sign than to break a U.N. treaty.
  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @07:58PM (#41519989)
    The craters are only half the temperature of their better-lit surroundings, but they still reach an average of 175 kelvin — hot enough to boil water in the moon's thin atmosphere

    175 kelvin is deeply in the negatives. Maybe sublimation is possible, but not boiling. Did they typo on the boiling or in the temperature? I should be able to educate guess this, but I'm not in the mood.
    • by brisk0 ( 2644101 )
      Using Wikipedian [] data, 175K seems to be well within the solid phase, so I'd say they're probably going for C. Still, water should not be able to be liquid phase in the Lunar “atmosphere”, so it seems both your guesses are on the money. I would think though, that “boiling” may be used here as a simplification for people unfamiliar with sublimation.
  • One of the apollo crews (IIRC apollo 16) did an experiment where they took a sample from a shadowed area between two rocks, but it turned out to be completely dry. All the apollo missions were close to the equator though.

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Monday October 01, 2012 @08:34PM (#41520271)

    1. Construct moon base
    2. Bottle moon water
    3. Ship to Earth
    4. Sell in fancy boutiques
    5. Profit!!!

    Given that specialty water from here on Earth frequently sells for absurd markups, "Pure Moon Water" would be like liquid gold. You could launch Fiji water back up for the Moonies to drink and have buckets of money left over.

  • Man, I'm feeling my age. When I went to school we were taught that it was made of cheese.

  • Mars is actually easier to explore/colonize. The moon is not only beyond our current technology to colonize, it is even beyond any theoretical technologies we can imagine. If anyone wants to argue that point, first come up with a suit and/or seal material that can survive more than 30 hours in the lunar environment. Then we will cover the actual difficult stuff. Mars we can do right now. The moon is gone guys, let it go.
    • ???

      I think even on the moon you could get a maintenance guy to come around on a schedule to replace parts that wear out.

      • Wearing a suit that fails daily? Good luck with that. We simply don't have the materials for a suit to keep people alive there for very long, nor the ability to give them a place to live out of that suit that won't kill them in short order. Forget the usual logistical and technical difficulties, the destructive/lethal nature of contact with the lunar soil itself is a problem we can't even solve at this point.
        • So what exactly is special about Mars that it doesn't have even more problems? About the only thing its extremely thin atmosphere does is make the dust airborne which is even worse for getting into things. You'd have to wear a almost a space suit to do anything outside and any structure's access ports would have the same problem with wear on their seals except with added airborne dust.
          At least if you're on the Moon emergency supplies can be hustled up a lot faster than to Mars.
          Nevermind this bickering thoug

          • Its actually the wind that makes Mars dust safe. Whats so special about it is that its weathered. Just like Earth. With no weathering, the Moons dust looks a lot like Silica or Asbestos; It is sharp, jagged, and extremely destructive. It destroys the fibers of suits and eats seals; the Apollo stuff almost fell apart afterward, it wouldn't have lasted a couple more days. Add to that it slices up and eats lungs too. Good luck developing a habitat in an environment where any dust is extremely lethal to the oc
  • It only proves us that there are still a lot of things to discover.
  • That is a very good news for us and a very bad news for the moon people, becasue someone is going to drill for water very soon. Fun aside. That ice could be anything. Liquid gas that was frozen, CO2 or bizarre gas leftovers from comets. There could be even some bacteria that managed to survive the impact of comets. It might be more valuable than just water.

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