Water on earth's moon?
April 14, 2005 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Come and get it? Some researchers believe there's water on the Moon in reach of human explorers....as we look towards the Moon with thoughts of setting up a permanent home there, one new question is paramount: does the Moon have water? Although none has been definitely detected, recent evidence suggests that it's there.
posted by Cranberry (23 comments total)
We want to go and live on the moon.... Why?

All right, all right... goes to RTFA.
posted by jokeefe at 4:03 PM on April 14, 2005

Water? On the moon? Big deal.

Bring on the Amazons!!!!
posted by The Infamous Jay at 4:12 PM on April 14, 2005

We don't want to live on the moon, jokeefe, there are no Starbucks there. But water = hydrogen + oxygen = rocket fuel, easily refined if it's there and already most of the way out of Earth's gravity "well".
posted by nicwolff at 4:19 PM on April 14, 2005

The moon is a harsh mistress.

To Mars bitches!!

But seriously, NASA is being gutted so thoroughly right now that dreams of going anywhere are slim.
posted by nofundy at 4:23 PM on April 14, 2005

It'll be private companies that set up base/shop there first. Lunar Hilton? That giant Pepsi logo thing they were talking about? Look at Virgin--they're on their way, definitely within 30 yrs.
posted by amberglow at 4:28 PM on April 14, 2005

Using the moon as ad space? The CPM would be astronomical.
posted by eatitlive at 4:34 PM on April 14, 2005

I would think the radiation would be equally as problematic. As to why we would want to live on the moon. It makes sense from a species POV. the more niches we inhabit, the less likely a single disaster would wipe us out.
As Uncle Bill (William Burroughs) use to say "What are we here for? We're all here to go.
posted by edgeways at 5:00 PM on April 14, 2005

If it doesn't have oil I can't see why Freedom would want to march there.
posted by travis vocino at 5:08 PM on April 14, 2005

Here's the plan: we land on the moon, establish a democracy, and we're out of there in six months, tops.
posted by pieisexactlythree at 5:12 PM on April 14, 2005

I done filled up my SUV for $75 and Whitey's on the moon...

Going to Mars is great and all, but how 'bout some Apollo Project lovin' down here at home... light rail, solar, those cool Toshiba batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, safe(r) nukes, etc etc.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:36 PM on April 14, 2005

Water on the moon? Who cares? Just like Frank Sinatra sent his private jets from LA to NY to pick up pizzas for the weekend, we can easily transport H20 to the moon.

Fly me to the moon
Let me sing among those stars
Let me see what spring is like
On Jupiter and mars

posted by terrier319 at 5:43 PM on April 14, 2005

Big advantages from going to the Moon. First of all, there are lots of technologies that already exist that if tailored for Lunar use would be far more useful here on Earth.

For example, small, clean nuclear reactors the size of a garbage bin, a generation more advanced than the ones already in use in SA and Japan. Serious advances in solar power sciences have also been made without great advance in its technologies, which would happen because there was now a motive for them to happen.

Robotics would get supercharged, there being a need for any number of robots, large and small to perform work there. Added to the huge push in robotic technology right now by the military, robots tech could explode.

Very thin yet very resistant-to-radiation materials have been invented, a layer of which "cloth" can stop as much hard radiation as an inch of lead. Truly amazing and necessarily integral to any future space endeavor.

Lots of other valuable materials can be produced at a fraction of their cost in a lower-gravity environment, then shipped back to Earth in robotic cargo ships.

Telescopes would be a natural for the Moon, perhaps far more powerful than the Hubble. They could work in tandem with those on the Earth to create a virtual telescope the size of the distance between them.

The Space Elevator, which is theoretically possible, may not be feasible on Earth, but may work on the Moon, due to its lack of atmosphere and magnetic field.

Even the harsh environment would help us immensely in developing sea-floor technologies, to include mining of trillions of dollars of underwater mineral deposits.

One of the major activities of the astronauts will be mining. Mining to build underground habitation and work areas. Mining water for local use as fuel and for oxygen, and especially scrape-mining and concentration of lunar dust for Hydrogen-3, that could then be transported back to Earth as an incredibly valuable safe and clean energy source. Any other mineral found would be an added bonus and many could be refined on the Moon to provide useful materials.

The best part of the program is that everything you do is cumulative. Eventually, there could be a permanent crew of several hundred people and twice that many robots, shipping back enough H3 for the energy needs of the entire Earth.
posted by kablam at 5:47 PM on April 14, 2005

...and we wonder why the Moon people hate us...
posted by The Infamous Jay at 6:11 PM on April 14, 2005

We found the perfect spot for a moon base too!
posted by loquax at 6:14 PM on April 14, 2005

Mars: Statistical analysis indicates that discrete, water ice crystal cloud activity and surface fog occurrences are significantly higher in the spring and summer of the Martian northern hemisphere than they are during the corresponding seasons in the southern hemisphere. Considerable frozen water is contained in the polar caps and contributes to the Martian atmospheric clouds and hazes as the spring and summer cap thaw becomes more rapid. Many interesting cloud or fog formations appear at the Northern Polar Region (NPR) during late spring as the sub- solar point rises higher in the Martian latitudes. Turbulence is an important factor in injecting and maintaining the large quantity of dust found in the Martian atmosphere. Dust storms tend to begin at preferred locations in the southern hemisphere during the southern spring and summer. Activity is at first local and vigorous , and large amounts of dust are thrown high into the atmosphere. If the amount of dust reaches a critical quantity, the storm rapidly intensifies, and dust is carried by high winds to all parts of the planet. This leads in a few days to global obscuration of the surface. With an average temperature of -63C, CO2 'frost' is a common occurance.

Jupiter on the other hand, being 1.34 times the density of water, doesn't really have an 'on' to see what spring is like. But probably, owing to the presence of ammonia and methane, smelly and poisonous.
posted by Sparx at 7:36 PM on April 14, 2005

Even the harsh environment would help us immensely in developing sea-floor technologies, to include mining of trillions of dollars of underwater mineral deposits.

boggle. Let's mine the smegging trillions of dollars of underwater mineral deposits now, then.

fact is the lunar environment is an order of magnitude more difficult to colonize than anything on earth.

Getting our economy off-planet someday is great and all, but here in Cali we've postponed the SF < -> LA train a couple of years.


posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:47 PM on April 14, 2005

Slight derail: recently I discovered that a friend of mine--a very intelligent, learned person--believes that the moon landings were a hoax. "Oh, you're one of those people!" I cried. He proceeded to lay down the evidence, and I promised that I would investigate this myself, me being a big fan of conspiracy theory, but I had never thought much about the moon landing hoax before.

So I got on the ol' interweb and check out every site I could find. Guess what? For every hoax site there are probably 10 sites refuting the theory, and every claim of hoax proponents can be rationally explained. Again, I'm often baffled and even frustrated by the knee-jerk reaction of skeptics on various conspiracy and supernatural events (UFOs are quite an interesting topic, as is Bigfoot, ghosts, et al.). But the moon hoax theory really has no basis in any facts at all.

I sent my findings to my friend. He hasn't responded yet.

posted by zardoz at 8:20 PM on April 14, 2005

Oh you believe in the moon landing, eh? One of THOSE people. Don't be brainwashed. There's very clearcut evidence it was faked. Duh...
posted by missbossy at 2:43 AM on April 15, 2005

missbossy, faboo link, heh.
posted by alumshubby at 3:03 AM on April 15, 2005

The overheated fantasies of those who believe that space colonization/exploration is feasible or even desirable never cease to amaze me. We can't even properly manage our own habitat, the one within which we evolved, and we want to run off into insanely inhospitable environments because we're all going to get rich (or find infinite and easily exploitable energy sources)? Oy.
posted by jokeefe at 9:25 AM on April 15, 2005

But, Queen Jokeefe, we promise to use the money to recapture the Holy Land from the infidels!
posted by nicwolff at 2:24 PM on April 15, 2005

(That was a Columbus/Isabella joke. Not sure it went over.)
posted by nicwolff at 2:25 PM on April 15, 2005

"Water on the moon? Who cares? Just like Frank Sinatra sent his private jets from LA to NY to pick up pizzas for the weekend, we can easily transport H20 to the moon."

Tho I'm guessing you're being facetious, terrier, the reality is that water weighs about 62 pounds per cubic foot and can't be compressed. At the current rate of roughly $100,000 per pound just to lift to LEO, every cubic foot of water - equal to about 7.5 gallons - you try to take to the moon from earth costs a bare minumum $6.2 million.

Putting this into perspective, 7.5 gallons is about 3 days of minimum survival water ration for a single person - just to stay alive, not exerting oneself or washing or any other use like waste disposal. This is why most current space vehicles use hydrogen/oxygen fuel cells, which allow us to take highly compressed gas up and generate drinking water at the same time we generate electrical power for the ship.

Just from that alone, finding water ice on the moon in substantial amounts is pretty much vitally necessary for any attempt at living there. Otherwise we'd either have to lift it from here at insane expense, or go catch a comet somehow...

edgeways: "I would think the radiation would be equally as problematic."

kablam: "Very thin yet very resistant-to-radiation materials have been invented, a layer of which "cloth" can stop as much hard radiation as an inch of lead."

Yes, radiation can be a problem, but there's an even simpler solution than some expensive, high-tech material that we have to lift up there at $100K/lb, and it's also tied to the presence of water: concrete.

Turns out that lunar dust and the local rocks there are pretty similar to the components of earthly-made concrete - Portland Cement, sand and gravel. All you need to make very nice concrete is some water. And concrete, along with being a fine construction material, is also an excellent substance for radiation shielding, the thicker the better. So, surface structures on the moon could be made of concrete that's 15 feet thick, which would handle even cosmic rays quite well.

There should also be very nice veins of high-purity iron ore strewn about near the surface, as they once were on earth, since the moon is of roughly the same composition, and so there you can make your steel rebar with a bit of concentrated sunlight for smelting (think ant under magnifying glass, for example).

However we're more likely to just make our more permanent habitats underground, where the surface itself would be the radiation shield.

Jokeefe, I think we have the bandwidth to tackle both problems at the same time, with each set of solutions feeding back into the other as kablam lays out. Our habitat management problems down here have little to do with capability or technology - they have mostly to do with psychological dysfunction and ignorance on the part of the majority of us. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 3:19 PM on April 15, 2005

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