Join 3,503 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Terraforming would be to create an uncontained planetary biosphere emulating all the functions of the biosphere of the Earth" M.J. Fogg
November 13, 2009 1:27 PM   Subscribe

NASA scientists claim to have found significant amounts of water, after successfully bombing the moon last month. This may have implications on possible Terraforming efforts as well as NASA's goal to understand the nature and distribution of habitable environments in the Universe. What might it look like?
posted by localhuman (78 comments total)

 
What, no beer?
posted by monospace at 1:32 PM on November 13, 2009


The "OMG, inorite" NASA quotes in the first article read like something Area Man would say in an Onion story. That said, if it's legitimate, this is very interesting news. I wonder what'll become of this discovery (and what the implications are for Mars?)...
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:34 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Further evidence supporting my theory of lunar whalers.
posted by The Whelk at 1:36 PM on November 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


But there ain't no whales
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:37 PM on November 13, 2009


I want to drink the moon water.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:37 PM on November 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


I want to drink the moon water.

Give Fiji time -- they'll figure out how to let you do that.
posted by hippybear at 1:41 PM on November 13, 2009


MOONWATER, BITCHEZ!11!!
posted by joe lisboa at 1:43 PM on November 13, 2009


I'm sorry, my "woah water on the moon" shock is currently being displaced by my "holy shit they bombed the fucking moon?!" shock.
posted by paisley henosis at 1:45 PM on November 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


My takeaway: bombing the surface of a planet is a legitimate way to end a drought.

i went to a public school why do you ask
posted by davejay at 1:47 PM on November 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


What about Mars? Wikipedia tells me that a big problem with Mars is the lack of a magnetosphere due to its core losing heat and no longer having convection. Well I know just the right people to call.
posted by battlebison at 1:51 PM on November 13, 2009


We're whalers on the moon,
We carry a harpoon.
But there ain't no whales
So we tell tall tales
And sing our whaling tune.

posted by xorry at 1:51 PM on November 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


I want to drink the moon water.

Given the ridiculousness at the Washington Post, it seems the demand for Moon water is, shall we say, evaporating. Perhaps this is all a stunt to restore our faith in Reverend Moon...
posted by kaibutsu at 1:51 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sure, you all laughed at Obama when he bombed the moon after getting the Nobel Peace Prize. But who's laughing now? He the frickin' quizat haderach of the moon!
(The movie quizat haderach that is.)
posted by cimbrog at 1:52 PM on November 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


This may have implications on possible Terraforming efforts

What implications are those? We cannot terraform the Moon, and we don't need to bomb Mars to know there's water there.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:53 PM on November 13, 2009


Obama wins Peace Prize the same day we bomb the moon.
Water discovered on the moon the same day we have #mathowielove.

COINCIDENCE???
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:54 PM on November 13, 2009


I hope this starts a tradition of bombing every planet we come across.
posted by Allan Gordon at 1:55 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not a planet - it's a moon.

*chewbacca roars*
posted by GuyZero at 1:59 PM on November 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Given the ridiculousness at the Washington Post, it seems the demand for Moon water is, shall we say, evaporating. Perhaps this is all a stunt to restore our faith in Reverend Moon...

Someone is suffering from Times/Post confusion.
posted by hippybear at 2:01 PM on November 13, 2009


The idea of terraforming is right up there with climate-scale geoengineering - completely ludicrous given our maltreatment of the current biosphere we inhabit.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 2:02 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's no moon!


What about Mars? Wikipedia tells me that a big problem with Mars is the lack of a magnetosphere due to its core losing heat and no longer having convection. Well I know just the right people to call.


Bruce Greenwood was in that? :(
posted by Harry at 2:02 PM on November 13, 2009


I vote that we bomb the moon with yeast and malted barley.
posted by qvantamon at 2:02 PM on November 13, 2009 [6 favorites]


First we bitch-slapped Pluto into not being a planet, then we bombed the moon. I just wonder if we really want to pick a flight with space.
posted by ob at 2:04 PM on November 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Somewhere Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz are cackling about the New New Plan for an American Century, Space Edition.
posted by ob at 2:05 PM on November 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fire up the Genesis device!
posted by brain_drain at 2:10 PM on November 13, 2009


Sure we could terraform the moon, by smacking comets into it. But the implications for Earth of one or two near misses would be pretty huge. And when all the work was done, the atmosphere would just freeze or erode away again. What the moon needs is a big, transparent wrapper that would keep the air in.

As for LCROSS, their results sound pretty darn cool. Now we need details! What's in that water?
posted by Kevin Street at 2:11 PM on November 13, 2009


But who's laughing now? He the frickin' quizat haderach of the moon!

Isn't that Al Gore? I HAVE RIDDEN THE MIGHTY MOON WORM.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:13 PM on November 13, 2009


The moon HAD water before we sent it all hurtling into space with our stupid experiment.

WAY TO GO, NASA.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:15 PM on November 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


Meh. I'm holding out for cheese.
posted by brundlefly at 2:16 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I want to drink the moon water.

Just make sure you don't drink the moon bong water.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:20 PM on November 13, 2009



Just make sure you don't drink the moon bong water.



Gentlemen! We have to consider the ramifications of our moon-sized space bong!


I just wanted to say moon-sized space bong
posted by The Whelk at 2:22 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I look forward to the future as guided by the music of Wyld Stallyns. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.*




*Except terraforming the moon. We can't be the villains of the future when we fail to preserve the past now!
posted by Atreides at 2:28 PM on November 13, 2009


Moon sized space bong!

so did i
posted by flaterik at 2:30 PM on November 13, 2009


So we were looking for water in Iraq?
posted by blue_beetle at 2:35 PM on November 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


<Emily Litella>

What's all this about Moog Water?

</Emily Litella>
posted by zippy at 2:37 PM on November 13, 2009


hippybear: Give Fiji time -- they'll figure out how to let you do that

LUNI - The best way to put out the fire in your wallet.
posted by Decimask at 2:41 PM on November 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Somewhere Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz are cackling about the New New Plan for an American Century, Space Edition.

Project for the New American Centauri.
posted by joe lisboa at 2:42 PM on November 13, 2009 [5 favorites]


American Centauri.

How is this not the title of a lost Philip K. Dick novel?
posted by The Whelk at 3:03 PM on November 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


We must not ALLOW a MOON BONG GAP!
posted by vibrotronica at 3:06 PM on November 13, 2009


But who's laughing now? He the frickin' quizat haderach of the moon!

Isn't that Al Gore? I HAVE RIDDEN THE MIGHTY MOON WORM.


This is (one of the reasons) why I wanted Gore to run for president last year. I already had my bootleg t-shirt ready to go:

RIDE THE MOON WORM! GORE 08!
posted by vibrotronica at 3:08 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was the only way to be sure.
posted by Anything at 3:16 PM on November 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


Re: bottled moon water.

Well, the moon rock samples brought back by the Apollo missions cost roughly $206,000/gram to get (inflation adjusted). According to the NASA folks, LCROSS kicked up about 98.5 liters of water out of a crater ~24 meters wide. Assuming the crater is a right cone 24m wide and 12m deep, that's 98.5 liters of water in 7,238 cubic meters of lunar regolith. To fill a 1L bottle would require about 73.5 cubic meters of regolith. Regolith has a density of about 2.5g/cm3, so that 73.5 cubic meters would mass about 183,750,000g and cost about $37,852,500,000,000 to retrieve, which is roughly on par with the Gross World Product. I suggest we all chip in and then hold a lottery for the drinking rights.

Of course, assuming you did the water extraction on the moon, bringing back that 1L of water would cost a mere $206,000,000, well within the reach of a billionaire looking for the ultimate in conspicuous consumption.
posted by jedicus at 3:23 PM on November 13, 2009 [10 favorites]


I would hope that the word terraforming here is used to actually mean; "this might make it easier for us to set up long term human habitation on the moon", rather than "this means that we are going to try to make the moon like earth" because that second one ain't going to happen, water or no.
posted by quin at 3:25 PM on November 13, 2009


American Centauri.

How is this not the title of a lost Philip K. Dick novel?


Or, for that matter, a horribly misguided George Lucas crossover?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:25 PM on November 13, 2009


Duh, of course you ship the factory to the moon. Geesh.

Also: please note that while fetching, the moon is, in fact, a harsh mistress.
posted by GuyZero at 3:26 PM on November 13, 2009


Anything: It was the only way to be sure.

Damn, man. I just choked on some goldfish crackers and almost got them in my sinuses. Bravo.
posted by Stunt at 3:28 PM on November 13, 2009


I hate this "bombing the Moon" meme. I actually got into an argument with a good friend who was convinced NASA was making military incursions on lunar territory and had actually gone to the trouble of looking up the non-ratified Moon Treaty to see if NASA were breaking any laws.

FWIW: No bombs were dropped in the making of this science. Just the very empty upper stage of a rocket and the LCROSS satellite itself. You may now return to your regularly scheduled moon bomb puns, already in progress.
posted by Missiles K. Monster at 3:29 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Still, this does improve my plans of setting up an moon based bottling plant. I'm going to call it Luna Aqua.

And I'm going to charge a shit-ton of money per bottle claiming all sorts of unverifiable health benefits.

It'll be awesome until it turns into a horror movie with some sort of ancient previously dormant alien parasite making it's way into the supply thus killing us all.

posted by quin at 3:30 PM on November 13, 2009


Moonwater and Homeopathy: Taste the Lunacy.
posted by yeloson at 3:31 PM on November 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's not water. Uatu the Watcher has to pee SOMEWHERE.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:41 PM on November 13, 2009


I can't help but think of my favorite short poem by George Carlin.

Moon Fuck

The Way I figure
Fuck the Moon
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:08 PM on November 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Every time the Moon gets discussed, I remember a conversation I had with my grandfather ten or so years ago. He was an ex-coal-miner, still living in the hollow in West Virginia that had been his parents' home and probably his grandparents' before that; at various points in his life he'd had kids and sent them all to college (though he had left school himself pretty young), had a mining tunnel cave in on him and cripple him for a while, had learned to walk again after that, had retired and planted long rows of strawberries on the terraced hill behind his house. He was quiet and strong and sharp. I was a grad student in astrophysics then, home for the holidays I think, and we ended up sitting in the kitchen each night just talking about this or that (what exactly does as astronomer do, anyway? they pay you for that, ho ho ho?), my Dad sitting there too, just the three of us. This was not long after a couple of disaster movies ("Deep Impact" and "Armaggedon") had put a meteorite crashing into the earth into public consciousness as a Thing That is Going to Get Us Someday.

So we're sitting and talking, sitting and talking, and then there's a lull in the conversation for a while, and then my grandfather leans back and says (waaay out of left field), "Welllllll, you know all those movies? About asteroids or whatever hitting the Earth? That's not what we oughta be worrying about."

Yep, papa. I guess that's true. Lots of other things to worry about.

He continues. "No sirree. Tell you what: it's not the asteroids we oughta be worrying about. It's the moon.

One of these days, that 'ole moon is gonna come crashing down, and what are we gonna do then?"

Pretty much my favorite conversation ever.
posted by chalkbored at 4:37 PM on November 13, 2009 [7 favorites]


Of course, assuming you did the water extraction on the moon, bringing back that 1L of water would cost a mere $206,000,000, well within the reach of a billionaire looking for the ultimate in conspicuous consumption.

Uh, why would moon water cost the same as the current price of moon rocks? If you went on an expedition solely for the purpose of gathering moon rocks, you could presumably bring back quite a bit. Once they were brought back, the market rate for moon rocks would drop quite a bit. Considering you could use robots rather then people, which could leave behind, yYou could probably bring back hundreds of pounds of moon rocks, just for the cost of a few billion dollars.
posted by delmoi at 4:50 PM on November 13, 2009


I hate this "bombing the Moon" meme. I actually got into an argument with a good friend who was convinced NASA was making military incursions on lunar territory and had actually gone to the trouble of looking up the non-ratified Moon Treaty to see if NASA were breaking any laws.

Clive Cussler already spilled the beans on the violation of that treaty.
posted by Atreides at 4:54 PM on November 13, 2009


Uh, why would moon water cost the same as the current price of moon rocks?

It's a sub-back-of-the-envelope calculation meant to establish a joke. Also, since we haven't done any significant robotic lunar sample return missions recently, I had no better numbers to work with. Also, my numbers weren't based on the price of moon rocks (i.e. what they would fetch at auction) but rather their cost (i.e. the mass of the rocks divided by the cost of the Apollo missions that brought them back).

We need some kind of HAMBURGER-like marker that means "this is not sarcasm but neither is it meant to be taken as a serious proposal or rigorous analysis." HOLD THE BEANS, perhaps.
posted by jedicus at 5:26 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


The idea of terraforming is right up there with climate-scale geoengineering - completely ludicrous given our maltreatment of the current biosphere we inhabit.

I dunno, don't a lot of hypothetical terraforming plans start by warming up the planet by essentially re-creating the Greenhouse Effect there? If there's something we humans have proven remarkably efficient at, it's pumping CO2 into the air.
posted by mkultra at 5:41 PM on November 13, 2009


I hate this "bombing the Moon" meme.

I noticed that "'bombing the moon' might cause horrible consequences such as knocking it out of its orbit" joined that elite group of irrational fears/theories that are common among otherwise rational people. The LHC will destroy the Earth. Vaccines [insert bad thing here]. Et cetera.
posted by brundlefly at 5:57 PM on November 13, 2009


Now that the Republicans' Moon Lair is destroyed, will the political philosophies borne of that low-oxygen environment disappear too?

The water is just gravy, of course.
posted by clockzero at 6:01 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


A vindication for Tibetan dialectical astronomy, to be sure.
posted by zhwj at 6:04 PM on November 13, 2009


The water is just gravy, of course.

Seriously? That's weird. Made out of what?
posted by brundlefly at 6:05 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Duh, of course you ship the factory to the moon. Geesh.

DEY TUK UR JUUUURBS!
posted by qvantamon at 6:12 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW: No bombs were dropped in the making of this science.
posted by Missiles K. Monster


eponysterical!
posted by jeoc at 6:18 PM on November 13, 2009


The LHC will destroy the Earth.

I know the whole "LHC is sending information back in time to prevent it from ever starting up" thing is frowned upon here (and hooray!) but the ever-crazier reasons the thing won't work do make me wonder sometimes.
posted by thecaddy at 6:39 PM on November 13, 2009


I frown upon your insinuations.
posted by Higgs Boson at 6:40 PM on November 13, 2009 [4 favorites]


The best way to make money off moon water is by selling it to moon tourists. Then reclaim the urine and sell it again.
posted by Kevin Street at 6:42 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Next we should bomb Mars... with the moon!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 6:56 PM on November 13, 2009


Whitey's gotta drink something.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:44 PM on November 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Problems with Moon Terraforming:

1. Too small. Insufficient gravity to retain atmosphere indefinitely.

2. solid, nonmetallic core. No magnetosphere, so no protection from nasty solar wind, contributes to stripping of atmosphere. See 1.

3. Moon monsters.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:41 PM on November 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


4. Traps cheese smell close to surface.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:37 PM on November 13, 2009


Where I wrote: "This may have implications on possible Terraforming efforts" I did not say that this had implications about Terraforming the Moon itself. I said, "this may have implications on possible Terraforming efforts", and I will stand by that.
posted by localhuman at 9:54 PM on November 13, 2009


Problems with Moon Terraforming (addendum):

Knocking the moon out of orbit!
posted by bwg at 1:24 AM on November 14, 2009


The high cost to the human race's colonisation of space, is caused by the complexity and danger of reaching escape velocity within the atmosphere, whilst lifting the fuel with which this is achieved from the surface of the earth.

There is another route, we can reach the edge of space no problem, Burt Rutan proved this with 'Space Ship One' when he won the 'X' prize by reaching over 100 km high, twice in one week.

Yes the Shuttle was 'reusable' but in name only, they could not turn that around in a week.

My idea is, to create rocket fuel on the moon by splitting the water discovered there, into oxygen and hydrogen using solar energy, then use that rocket fuel to fuel a space tug, use the space tug to accelerate 'Space Ship One' from the edge of space, to escape velocity, safely in the vacuum of space.

The moon is the door to the solar system.

If we can control robots a millions of miles away on mars, I'm fairly sure we could control water extraction plants on the moon.

Another potential source of rocket fuel on the moon, is the large amounts of aluminium present in moon rock, aluminium burns in the presence of oxygen, moon rock is around 40% oxygen.
posted by dollyknot at 3:12 AM on November 14, 2009


We already had video proof that there was water on Mars, so this revelation isn't all that shocking. Nice to know though.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:46 AM on November 14, 2009


Just when I'd forgotten about the scary moon hamsters. Thanks, guys. It's gonna be a long day.
posted by functionequalsform at 8:07 AM on November 14, 2009


I'm with you on moon monsters, leo, but solid, non-metallic core?

It's not molten iron? I missed an update?
posted by rokusan at 8:59 AM on November 14, 2009


4. Traps cheese smell close to surface.
posted by fourcheesemac


Eponysterical.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:07 AM on November 14, 2009


jedicus: Of course, assuming you did the water extraction on the moon, bringing back that 1L of water would cost a mere $206,000,000

Maybe less, if some Daniel Plainview-type character makes a lo-o-ong straw and drinks it up.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:36 AM on November 14, 2009


Next we should bomb Mars... with the moon!

We've already bombed the Earth with Mars' evil twin to make the Moon, so that would complete the trifecta

or maybe just the difecta
posted by lukemeister at 11:58 AM on November 14, 2009


Supplementary link for those interested in moon colonization: The Artemis Project

And the Moon Miners' Manifesto, or some of it anyway. It's a magazine that focused on practical aspects of exploiting the moon.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:47 PM on November 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


« Older Wikipedia is being sued for publishing the names o...  |  Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No by ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments