Skip to comments.Ice store at Moon's South Pole is a myth: study
Posted on 10/19/2006 6:41:12 AM PDT by presidio9
Hopes that the Moon's South Pole has a vast hoard of ice that could be used to establish a lunar colony are sadly unfounded, a new study says.
In 1994, radar echoes sent back in an experiment involving a US orbiter called Clementine appeared to show that a treasure trove of frozen water lay below the dust in craters near the lunar South Pole that were permanently shaded from the Sun.
If so, such a find would be an invaluable boost to colonisation, as the ice could be used to provide water as well as hydrogen as fuel. NASA is looking closely at the South Pole as a potential site for the United States' return mission to the Moon, scheduled to take place by 2020.
But a paper published in the British science journal Nature on Thursday by a US team says the Clementine data most probably was misinterpreted.
Donald Campbell of Washington's Smithsonian Institution and colleagues collected radar images of the Moon's South Pole to a resolution of 20 metres (65 feet), looking especially at Shackleton crater, which had generated most interest.
The team found that a particular radar signature called the circular polarization ratio -- which in the Clementine experiment was taken to indicate thick deposits of ice -- could also be created by echoes from the rough terrain and walls of impact craters.
The signature was found in both sunny and permanently shady areas of crater, which suggests that the reflection comes from rocky debris, not thick ice deposits.
If there is any ice at the South Pole, it probably comes from tiny, scattered grains that probably account for only one or two percent of the local dust, the authors suggest.
"Any planning for future exploitation of hydrogen at the Moon's South Pole should be constrained by this low average abundance rather than by the expectation of localised deposits at higher concentrations," the paper says soberly.
The research involved sending a radar signal from the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico. The signal hit the southern lunar region and the reflection was picked up by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.
Not a huge problem, sending water to the moon is relatively cheap and simply, ya just lob a big chunk of it (ice) to the moon, and let it crash there.
True. It's just the "lobbing" part that's the hitch.
Hey, I can create conspiracy theories with the best of them.
It costs about $100K per kilo to "lob" something into orbit, let alone sending it to the Moon.
Simple....you just use my plan for terraforming Mars.....
Oh but I havent patented it yet...sorry.
So, the jury is still out.
The value of the poles for settlement is that there is constant sunlight available for backup solar power.
This article is pure BS. We need more engineers as reporters.
That will be cut significantly by the space elevator. If that fails then a really big slingshot will obviously be the solution.
Global warming, no doubt..........
It's better to use ice that's already in orbit. Which, coincidentally, there is plenty, along with methane and other useful compounds.
We just need to go and get it. The first group to successfully accomplish that will signal the true dawn of the space age.
Why is the federal government looking for more ways to waste money. There is no economic benefit in colonizing the moon. If this country had more money than it knew what to do with (i.e. nobody paid any taxes) I couldn't care less. Instead we are looking for more frivilous ways to spend more money.
It's not like there is any real reason to return to the Moon. It's just a government make work project, anyway.
It's been said that if there were solid concrete on the moon, lunar colonists would want to mine it for its water content.
Which reminds me - it's about time to track down a copy of "The Ice Pirates" to rent/buy...
After the Earth was used up, we found a new solar system and hundreds of new Earths were terraformed and colonized. The central planets formed the Alliance and decided all the planets had to join under their rule. There was some disagreement on that point. After the War, many of the Independents who had fought and lost drifted to the edges of the system, far from Alliance control. Out here, people struggled to get by with the most basic technologies; a ship would bring you work, a gun would help you keep it. A captain's goal was simple: find a crew, find a job, keep flying.
Which reminds me - it's about time to track down a copy of "The Ice Pirates" to rent/buy...
Thank you for the fine quote from Firefly. This was the single most important storyline in the history of drama. It depicted free people living lives of integrity outside the structure of Big Brother. No wonder it was cancelled.
Not that ice pirate, but thanks for playing... :-)
Is the $100K per kilo based on rocket technology? I'd be very interested in other delivery mechanisms that would be too harsh for humans or electronic equipment, but would work fine on ice or liquid water. I remember the Canadian who was working on Saddam's Supergun originally started his work on using artillery to shoot things into orbit. Since the massive acceleration from such a gun would not be an issue for simple, raw materials, what do you suppose the cost per kilogram would be?
Once you've solved that problem, the rest of it should be a piece of cake. =]
Do I detect a young Ron Pearlman in this picture?
Find a passing comet full of ice and redirect it to hit the moon (try not to hit the earth while you're doing that).
I am amazed at how many people think we just need to warm the planet and add atmosphere to get a decent pressure and temperature at the surface. What they fail to understand is that a higher gravity is needed. With the current gravity, warming the planet will result in a loss of atmosphere. With a higher temperature, the Boltzmann distribution of gas molecule speeds will have the high speed tail stretching well past escape velocity with the current gravity on Mars. Warmer Mars = less atmosphere. Or you could jusr dig really, really deep holes so the atmosphere would be of satisfactory pressure. Colonists on Mars would live in deep 'hobbit holes'. The hole depth would increase protection from cosmic radiation, too.
"What they fail to understand is that a higher gravity is needed. With the current gravity, warming the planet will result in a loss of atmosphere. With a higher temperature, the Boltzmann distribution of gas molecule speeds will have the high speed tail stretching well past escape velocity with the current gravity on Mars. "
Drop enough small asteroids on Mars, (and I'm talking a LOT of them!) and increase the mass while building up the gas pressure and temp, all at once... Of course, we probably ought to look the place over rather carefully first, as there isn't much that would survive the "rain" we caused. (Simplistic solutions for simplistic people...)
You are right, not much would survive adding sufficent mass to increase the gravity of Mars. Such mass would add hundreds of kilometers to the diameter of the planet. Nothing original would remain.
Easiest way to make ICE is to take the RICE and take away R and you end up with ICE. Add some algore global warmint and you get water. Add some surplus CO2 and you get club soda. Add some Scotch and civilization is fully suported.
You have obviously given this a lot of thought. Have you applied for a job at NASA yet?
In 1992, it cost $20K per payload kilo while a supergun could do the same job for $500, or about 2.5 percent of the cost of a shuttle launch. If the cost per launch is $100K now (a number I ran across in the past year or so) it would still only cost about $2500.
That was one of my favorite episodes. I loved it, Hitler blaming the end on the bear, too funny.
"Ice store at Moon's South Pole is a myth: study"
D@mn. We were this (holding two fingers really close together) close to getting Ted Kennedy to build a rocket for his fat @ss and a case of scotch.
oh, and under a couple of hundred kilometers of later debris, too...
If that's the case, let's start building really, really big guns!!
Of course if you increase the mass of the Moon, you will change the orbital characteristics (and climate, seasons, tides, etc.) of Earth. That's not a trade I want to make.
Not only did I not suggest doing this to the moon, the post you quoted me on says specifically "Mars" so I'm not sure where you're going. We were talking about getting Mars to hold on to an atmosphere. The Moon is better off without one, for my purposes. Not to mention that it's lower gravity is a positive, as well. Enough gravity to keep stuff where you put it, not enough to keep from getting to someplace else relatively easily.
I don't think there's enough mass in all the asteroids, combined, to raise Mars' mass that much.
[ http://www.nineplanets.org/earth.html ] Earth mass: 5.972e24 kg
[ http://www.nineplanets.org/mars.html ] Mars mass: 6.4219e23 kg
Okay, now I'm 90 per cent sure.
Wouldn't the ice burn up before it gets into space? And if it is going to be shielded by the rocket, that would seem to make it very expensive.
And I just answered a 'help wanted' email -- they wanted somebody to process payments to the ice store.
Hey, there aren't even any eskimos to buy it down there, are there?
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