Houston, we have a puddle

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16 Nov 2009 07:42 #26790 by Garm
Water discovery fuels hope to colonize moon

Finding could mean drinking water, rocket fuel, more for future lunar camps

By Jeanna Bryner
updated 6:04 p.m. ET, Fri., Nov . 13, 2009

Hopes, dreams and practical plans to colonize or otherwise exploit the moon as a source of minerals or a launch pad to the cosmos got a boost today with NASA's announcement of significant water ice at the lunar south pole.

The LCROSS probe discovered the equivalent of a dozen 2-gallon buckets of water in the form of ice, in a crater at the lunar south pole. Scientists figure there's more where that came from.

\"The presence of significant quantities of ice on the lunar surface catapults the moon from an interesting waypoint to a critical launching pad for humanity's exploration of the cosmos,\" said Peter Diamandis, CEO and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, which is running a $30 million contest for private moon rovers. \"We're entering a new era of lunar exploration — 'Moon 2.0,' in which an international group of companies and governments will use the ice and other unique resources of the moon to help us expand the sphere of human influence, and to help us monitor and protect the Earth.\"

The water discovery firms up previous detections of the signature of water molecules by three independent spacecraft. But the new finding makes more of a splash in that the detections come from both infrared and ultraviolet measurements, and a lot more of it was detected than scientists had expected.

\"It is a big 'wow,'\" said Jack Burns of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and director of the Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research.

Set up lunar camp
Having that store of water on the moon could be a boon to possible future lunar camps. In addition to a source of drinking water, lunar water ice could be broken into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen atoms, ultimately to be used in rocket fuel. That would mean spacecraft ferrying future colonists to the moon would not have to take fuel for the return trip, or the fuel could be used to launch trips beyond the moon. And water could be used as a shield from cosmic radiation.
\"We now can say ... that the possibility of living off the land has just gone up a notch,\" said Peter Schultz, professor of geological sciences at Brown University and a co-investigator on the LCROSS mission, referring to past detections of water on the moon.

The new discovery comes just as the Obama administration is deciding whether to continue on with NASA's goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020. Today's news could tip the scales toward another lunar leap.

\"It's going to boost the interest in the moon, no doubt about it,\" said with Michael Wargo, chief lunar scientist for Exploration Systems at NASA Headquarters. \"It's going to provide additional information that will inform the decision that will inform the future of human space exploration.\" He added that the new finding will likely be taken into account when that administrative decision is made.

\"In terms of the clearly most practical destination for the next two to three decades for human exploration it has to be the moon,\" Burns told SPACE.com.

Big challenges ahead
In the midst of floating on \"Cloud 9,\" as Burns described his reaction to the water discovery, are the logistics of actually setting up a lunar colony.
\"The devil is in the details,\" Wargo said, adding, \"None of our spacesuits that we currently have would be appropriate for that extreme an environment.\"

Any materials built for Earth-like temperatures won't work on the moon. \"They don't bend anymore, they fracture, and they fracture brittle-y, and so everything gets extremely brittle at those temperatures,\" Wargo said.

NASA scientists have been quietly working in their tool shops on innovative ways of mining and using the goods.
The water could also be pumped into the roof of a lunar habitat to shield astronauts from cosmic radiation. \"So think of it as a layer of insulation like you would have in the roof of your house,\" Burns said. \"Instead of thermal insulation this is insulation from radiation from the sun.\"

New page in lunar history
When Apollo astronauts visited the moon 40 years ago, the picture was of a bone-dry rock. That picture has only changed within the last couple of decades as scientists began to suspect that the moon's polar regions could hold stores of water ice in so-called cold traps that are permanently in the darkness and can reach just tens of degrees above absolute zero, Burns said.

The LCROSS probe impacted one such cold trap, a crater called Cabeus, on Oct. 9. The $79 million spacecraft, preceded by its Centaur rocket stage, hit the lunar surface in an effort to create a debris plume that could be analyzed by scientists for signs of water ice.

This watery find may just be the first big one with more to come. \"This was a random shot in an area of permanent darkness and there may be many more places that could have more of this stuff,\" Schultz told SPACE.com. \"This is like opening Pandora's Box.\"

\"It's been unfortunate that some have said, 'Moon, been there done that,'\" Burns said. \"We only went to the moon six times and we didn't go to the most interesting places on the moon. There's so much more to discover about the moon just from a scientific perspective, what it can tell us about the formation of the Earth.\"

Space.com senior writer Andrea Thompson contributed to this report.
© 2009 Space.com. All rights reserved.

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16 Nov 2009 11:57 #26792 by
Replied by on topic Re:Houston, we have a puddle
My thinking is this - if water is present on the moon - it will be on a small or at least limited quantity so sooner or later - were gonna be back to square 1 - ie no water on the moon.

Now if memory serves me correctly - when astronauts ( or cosmonauts) are in space for any length of time - they 'generate' their owm water using evaporators - this must certainly be the case for the space station - so my question is this - why is water on the moon an issue of we can already generate it?

Now I know that sounds overly simplified or even a dumb question - but surely ....

I suspect 'other' reasons and water is an excuse - they are probably carrying on with this silly quest for other life forms - why is it silly? What would it achieve if they did find life elsewhere? - personally I pray they dont - mainly cos some fool would bring back 'samples' and sooner or later - it would 'escape' and who knows what the harm would be - we have enough trouble with flu variants and (in the UK anyway) C-Diff and MRSA in hospitals

imagine the harm of mutated super bugs mixed with 'alien' microbiological material...

There are many more problems on our planet that need fixing without wasting billions on sending rockets etc into space (and polluting our outer atmosphere with yet more junk)

Just the witterings of a cynic

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16 Nov 2009 17:54 #26796 by RyuJin
Replied by RyuJin on topic Re:Houston, we have a puddle
:laugh: mutant alien viruses....look at the other side we may find one that is beneficial to humans

they actually found more water then they initially expected

good point about the moisture evaporators....but hey they hafta waste our money somehow

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16 Nov 2009 21:01 #26798 by Garm
Replied by Garm on topic Re:Houston, we have a puddle
Actually, the whole thing has been kinda shallow. Usually when we get space program stuff in the news it comes with quite a bit of zeal, you know, the blow our own horn sort of thing. But this time the agency really isn't putting in much of an effort and that makes it look like more a simple cover story for something bigger. I'm not one for conspiracy theories, but I don't feel that we are getting the whole picture this time.

The idea presented doesn't make a great deal of sense to me...Like water for living on the moon? and for future rocket fuel? all this from a couple dozen frozen gallons? At the cost of the 74 million dollar space craft, then it makes he moon water $3,083,333 per gallon...

I wonder how much would a few moon ice-cubes would cost me for a nice little glass of Scotch...on the moon rocks ;)

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16 Nov 2009 22:33 #26800 by RyuJin
Replied by RyuJin on topic Re:Houston, we have a puddle
it's not much more of a waste then the guy that accidentally drove his bugatti into a salt water lake because he was reaching for his cellphone (which he dropped while talking because a pelican flew in front of him)

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J.L.Lawson,Master Knight, M.div, Eastern Studies S.I.G. Advisor (Formerly Known as the Buddhist Rite)
Former Masters: GM Kana Seiko Haruki , Br.John
Current Apprentices: Baru
Former Apprentices:Adhara(knight), Zenchi (knight)

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18 Nov 2009 03:15 #26819 by
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RyuJin wrote:

:laugh: mutant alien viruses....look at the other side we may find one that is beneficial to humans

they actually found more water then they initially expected

good point about the moisture evaporators....but hey they hafta waste our money somehow


But isnt he fact that it isnt found naturally on ou planet a big warning flag saying 'it should never become part of our planet' ?

If its from the moon it belongs on the moon - and yes - I do also think we should keep ourselves to ourselves on this planet - at least until we as a special learn to leave things as we found them.

Common knowledge we know more about space than we do our own oceans (something I find unaceptable) - and ignorance is never bliss

MTFBWY - A

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18 Nov 2009 04:47 #26820 by RyuJin
Replied by RyuJin on topic Re:Houston, we have a puddle
ah but some think that in the past (pre ice age) that when the earth was bombarded by metoers some of the debris may have drifted into the moon in which case some of what's found there originated here.

we definately know a whole lot more about space then we do about the depths of the oceans, although we do have several robots working on that at the moment...in fact a couple of months ago in the news they mentioned that they had lost track of one robot...then they found it again a few weeks later but nowhere near it's last recorded location, and it had images of a giant squid.
all through history mankind has held a fascination with the heavens and fear of the depths. i think that is why we tend to put so much more effort into space study and less into oceanography....in the minds of most humans the heavens hold saintly beings, while based on some of the nasty looking little fishies we've seen the depths hold sinister beings...personally i think some of those nasty little fish look kinda cool.

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Former Apprentices:Adhara(knight), Zenchi (knight)

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