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600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon

Posted by: sanman - Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:09 am
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600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon 
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Post 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:09 am
Okay, now that's a lot of water.

http://news.google.com/news/search?aq=f ... moon+water

NASA announced that the mini-SAR data from the Chandrayaan-1 mission has revealed upto 600 million metric tonnes of water ice at the lunar north pole near the surface.

Some people wishfully say that if only the Viking landers from the 70s had hit a better patch of dirt like the Phoenix lander did, then the history of the space program could be quite different.

Well, heck, imagine if the Ranger, or Surveyor, or Soviet Luna or Zond missions from the 60s had found the right patch of lunar surface and detected the water, then I'm sure there'd be a manned base on the Moon today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K25mTS6zPnk

Ready the Eagles! :mrgreen:


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:53 pm
Now if only there was an organization with a ton of skilled workers and engineers who are more than eager to work on getting us there ASAP if they had the budget and teh go ahead....lol.

or... [daydreaming] could you imagine if all the member companies of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation decided to flex their collective muscles and go for a moon shot? there is alot of talent, eagernes, and willingness there as well. and imagine the publicity....lol [/daydreaming]

ah well, lol maybe someday we'll get there


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:59 pm
We just need one uber rich guy (or gal) to decide to purchase a summer home on the moon. As long as they did not try to start their own company to do it. It's the only real way to get all the big players focused on the same thing.

Buy the habitat from Bigelow, the lander from Northrup, and launch services from spaceX or ULA.

Surely there is some body who has $20-billion to sink into real-estate development.

After that they could partner with 3M or some other big Mining company to supply both living space and volatiles to who ever wants to stop by. I would just pick 3M because they do manufacturing as well.


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:37 pm
unlike the earlier "detections" of water ice recently, from M^3 and LCROSS, this one actually means something very significant. radar observations are capable of penetrating ice and as such indicate that not only is there significant ice, but that it's not just dispersed in the regolith. basically it means there's enough to mine meaningfully. that being said, what it doesn't mean is that we actually could mine it with the technology we have now. most of the stuff that's been designed for lunar mining revolves around digging up regolith. this is a great way to mine on the moon because regolith contains almost everything you could possibly need, including the ingredients to make water. so just keep in mind, it's great to have water ice up there, but the terrain is probably extremely difficult to deal with, and it shouldn't be considered a requirement for a base to be located near water. anyone remember apollo 14? that stuff was downright easy compared to lunar polar terrain. it's permanently shadowed for a reason, and that reason usually involves steep cliffs.

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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:17 am
Well, there's all kinds of ways to investigate that water. Look at the Chemcam science package on the upcoming MSL rover mission to Mars:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEZ5dEi4oPo

That's an example of one way to probe these ice pockets, as well as to prospect for other surface minerals.

I'm wondering whether there might be some pockets of carbon and nitrogen trapped in mineral deposits somewhere near the lunar surface. Both are very important to sustaining life, and both are capable of forming stable compounds. Ammonia ice from comets might just as easily accumulate in cold traps as water ice seems to have.


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Thu Mar 04, 2010 12:58 pm
they found both frozen CO2 as well as ammonia ices or some other nitrogen thing with LCROSS. in my opinion this is a little bit more significant than the water they dug up, since there wasn't actually that much of it in the plume. maybe there were ice deposits nearby, but if so they missed em.

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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:53 pm
I'm wondering what's the most efficient way to traverse and explore these interesting regions of the lunar surface, to cover the most area in the most flexible way.

As shown by the Mars rovers getting stuck in the dust, maybe the rover approach isn't the best one. It's true that lunar rovers could have more mass and more power, which might surmount some of the obstacles that impeded the Mars rovers. However, the many-small-robots approach might be good, so that you don't put all your eggs in one basket. Hopper robots might be able to go a lot of places where rovers can't, revealing a treasure trove of geological data.


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:13 am
i agree hopper robots are the way to go for polar exploration. i don't think a wheeled one would be able to get to the bottom of the craters. it would have to be powered by a RTG or something though cause there's obviously no energy source in a permanently shadowed region.

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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:50 pm
Mini-SAR has also exposed the deepest part of the lunar surface yet seen - the Apollo Basin:

http://spacefellowship.com/news/art1893 ... -moon.html


This is like the analog to Hellas Basin on Mars (except Hellas might actually be capable of supporting liquid water natively)
I'm wondering if it's possible that significant liquid water could exist deep below the lunar surface, perhaps as aquifers trapped inside of impermeable rock.

The speculation is that Apollo Basin probably exposes the lower part of the lunar crust, making it a geological treasure trove.

If the cold traps can give us not only water, but also ammonia (nitrogen), and hydrocarbons, then we'll have to think about how to extract this stuff and use it to build some mini-biospheres. The current research into extraction of methane hydrates from the bottom of the sea comes to mind, because it involves suctioning frozen material that would otherwise be quite volatile.

If we had to do more follow-up surveys of the Moon from orbit, then how low an altitude could be achieved, for even greater observational detail? 50 km?
30 km? 20 km? How low is too low to sustain? Let's even assume you had an ion-engine for station-keeping that could function continuously for a period of 1 year. What is the minimum orbital altitude that could be sustained for 1 year, to give the closest possible imaging? (I'm assuming that the CCD electronics would be fast enough to capture still images with required precision)


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:53 pm
sanman wrote:
If we had to do more follow-up surveys of the Moon from orbit, then how low an altitude could be achieved, for even greater observational detail? 50 km?
30 km? 20 km? How low is too low to sustain? Let's even assume you had an ion-engine for station-keeping that could function continuously for a period of 1 year. What is the minimum orbital altitude that could be sustained for 1 year, to give the closest possible imaging? (I'm assuming that the CCD electronics would be fast enough to capture still images with required precision)

Clementine found that the surface of the moon ranges in height by 18100 meters. So a 20km orbit should be possible.

johno


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:42 pm
I am not entirely sure, but I think any orbit of the moon is wildly unstable due to mass concentrations. I don't think 20km would be sustainable without a lot of fuel to keep re-circularizing the orbit. Something to think about anyway.


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Sat Mar 06, 2010 6:57 pm
Hmm, perhaps the gravitational fluctuations would compel a lower mass for the orbiting probe, to minimize those effects. What about microsats/nanosats? These could be quite small, and thus more able to do many more orbits before suffering problems. Would the lack of circularizing necessarily muck up the data? Not if you were able to account for the changes in distance while you do your mapping.


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Sat Mar 06, 2010 9:41 pm
The effect on the satellite is independent of it's mass. Because the force

F = G*m1*m2/d^2

and

F = m2*a rearranged to a = F/m2 to get the acceleration your probe will experience.

Substitute the equation for F into the equation for a you get

a = G*m1*m2/(m2*d^2)

The term m2 (which is the mass of your satellite cancels and you are left with

a = G*m1/d^2


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:33 pm
DanielW wrote:
I am not entirely sure, but I think any orbit of the moon is wildly unstable due to mass concentrations. I don't think 20km would be sustainable without a lot of fuel to keep re-circularizing the orbit. Something to think about anyway.


Hmmm, yeah, you're probably right about that. It's not something I considered, and I don't have any data that I could use to do the calculations even if I had the time to figure it all out. The further from the moon you get the less those mass concentrations would matter though (r^2). I guess a good base point to work off of would be the lowest orbits that have been attempted by the space agencies. I seem to remember that Clementine went down to less than 50km during the mapping phase of the mission, but I could be wrong about that. One things for sure, less than 18.1km is asking for trouble!

johno


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Post Re: 600 Million Tonnes of Water Ice Found on the Moon   Posted on: Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:07 am
To get an idea, 600 million tons wopuld be a cube 844 m across, or a 1 m thick slab 24.5 km square. Very substantial, and there's surely more. But on planetary scale, not much.

For exploration, a good way would be to select some crater floors which seem far away enough from the lunar N pole to be able to see the Earth from. So rovers could transmit to Earth.

Or failing that, station a repeater on the crater rim which can transmit to Earth and to rovers on the crater floor.

A quick way to survey is to use a gamma spectrometer to look for the characteristic gamma ray from the capture of a neutron by a proton (H).

In all the lunatr excitemnent it should be remembered that many near Earth asteroids can be up to 10% water as hydrates in the rock. An asteroid a few km diameter would then have more than that on the moon.

And there are a lot of such asteroids, some easier in propulsion terms to reach than the moon.

It's out there. Have to develop the industry to get there. Probably not the NASA pathway. Google "microlaunchers"


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