candid thoughts on the issues of the day.
Because Gregg Easterbrook can't figure it out.
Published on May 31, 2007 By The Way In The Media
Top Ten Reasons to Go Back to the Moon:

10. “To [re]organize and [re]measure the best of our energies and skills.”
9. To stay technologically ahead of other nations that have active plans to go to the Moon, particularly those who do not recognize basic human rights.
8. To conduct scientific research, in order to understand how the Moon was created.
7. To determine if water ice and other volatiles exist in permanently shadowed craters, not only for the potential use of these resources, but also to better understand fundamental physical and geological processes (cold-trap volatile migration, volatile flux due to meteoroid and comet impacts) of which we have limited understanding.
6. To convert lunar silicates into solar cells for Solar Power Satellites, in order to provide clean, safe, and cheap energy for Earth (mid-term).
5. To use the Moon’s relatively high abundance of helium-3, in order to provide clean, safe, and cheap energy for Earth (long-term).
4. To learn how to make things on another planet.
3. To learn how to live on another planet.
2. To preserve the human species, should the Earth ever be destroyed.
1. "Because it is there."

I could elaborate, or keep going with other resons. I will try to respond to any comments.

Comments (Page 1)
on May 31, 2007
Good stuff. I would add that a permanent moon base would give us an off planet refueling station where our spacecraft would not need to work so hard to escape gravity to return to space, as well as one that's not going to crash down anytime soon. Minerals could eventually be tapped to provide fuel and raw building materials on the moon, and conceivably greenhouses could be built to provide some degree of self sufficiency.
on May 31, 2007
there is also oxigen and water on the moon we just have to learn how to get it

on May 31, 2007
I wonder if we will ever do anything with the moon other than visit it.
on May 31, 2007
I wonder if we will ever do anything with the moon other than visit it.


populate it with prisoners - like an Alcatraz?
on May 31, 2007
populate it with prisoners - like an Alcatraz?


They closed alcatraz.   
on May 31, 2007
populate it with prisoners - like an Alcatraz?


like to see someone swim out of that one


but no it will be a fueling station becouse it is easier and cheaper to get things off of the moon than off the earth
on May 31, 2007
Actually, most humans find that it's easier to fuel down here on Earth.

I'm still trying to figure out how it could preserve human life if the Earth is destroyed. If the Earth is destroyed, the Moon is not long for this world. Without the Earth's gravitation pull making it run circles around us, where will it go? Probably into the Sun or worse, shoot off into space. Well, not really worse. But still, it would not just stick around right here.
on May 31, 2007
Without the Earth's gravitation pull making it run circles around us, where will it go?


actually the moon has a perfect orbit around the sun

ie

in it's orbit around the earth. the moon never moves away from or toward the sun

which means that if the earth wasn't here the moon would follow the same path around the sun. although the earth maybe keeping it from being pulled into the sun.

as far as saving humanity if the earth goes pop the moon will probable go pop just before or just after
on May 31, 2007
Good stuff. I would add that a permanent moon base would give us an off planet refueling station where our spacecraft would not need to work so hard to escape gravity to return to space...


The use of lunar materials to create rocket propellents and other fuels is a research field that I have spent a lot of time studying. There have been economic studies performed to determine if such propellents/fuels would be less costly than delivering equivalent materials from Earth. I will caution that these economic models still have a great deal of uncertainty, due to the unproven nature of such activities. Preliminary results, however, show that on the lunar surface, lunar-derived propellents would be cheaper, but as soon as you get to low-lunar orbit (LLO), the costs (Earth-LLO transport vs. lunar-production + lunar surface-LLO transport) become roughly comparable. Of course, these economics will evolve as infrastructure on the Moon develops. As the capital costs of lunar production facilities amortize, it will clearly be cheaper to get propellants from the lunar surface to LLO than to get them from the Earth's surface to LLO.
on May 31, 2007
...as well as one that's not going to crash down anytime soon.


I'm sorry, I'm not sure exactly what you were expressing. Perhaps, (A) that this lunar refueling station will not crash down anytime soon relative to an Earth-orbiting refueling station, or ( that a lunar-launched spacecraft will not crash down as often compared to Earth-launched spacecraft. Both interpretations offer interesting insights.

A. If we built an Earth-orbiting spacecraft refueling station, as long as it is not in low-Earth orbit (LEO), there is no significant risk of it de-orbiting due to drag or gravitational influences. It is not clear, however, where the highest demand for refueling will be. It may be in LEO, or it may be in Geostationary orbit (GEO), where most telecommunication satellites are located. Most GEO satellites now use electric-ion propulsion engines, which don't need to be refueled too often.....so you may be right that a LEO-based station would require its own significant "orbital maintenance."

In any case, I think the most interesting difference between a lunar-based refueling station and an Earth-based refueling station is that a lunar-based station would have ALL the materials needed for its continued maintenance readily available, whereas the materials for maintaining a LEO-based station would have to be delivered to LEO or salvaged from dead satellites in LEO. I will elaborate on this in other posts.

B. It is interesting to point out that an Earth-launched rocket is inherently more risky than a lunar-launched rocket. This is due to two factors, (1) Earth's large gravity and (2) Earth's atmosphere. Factor 1 requires that these rockets use large amounts of propellants to achieve orbital velocity, and the more propellents, the more complicated and risky the rocket must be. Factor 2 again increases the amount of propellant needed and also adds the difficulties of aerodynamic forces/pressure and aerodynamic heating. A lunar "ascent vehicle" can be made to be relatively simple and, therefore, more reliable. If anyone has seen the Apollo Lunar Module ascent engine in person, you were likely surprised by its amazing simplicity (and small size).
on May 31, 2007
Have you not heard? The US has had a station on the moon for over a decade now!

Just kidding, really

To stay technologically ahead of other nations that have active plans to go to the Moon, particularly those who do not recognize basic human rights.


The last part of this sentence, why particularly those? What is your reasoning here? How would this play a part?

Interesting article btw
on May 31, 2007
Minerals could eventually be tapped to provide fuel and raw building materials on the moon, and conceivably greenhouses could be built to provide some degree of self sufficiency.


The lunar regolith (i.e. soil made up of broken rocks) and surface rocks/boulders have signicant amounts of aluminum, titanium (in some regions), iron, calcium, and magnesium. Lunar regolith can also be made into concrete blocks for use in building structures simply by heating it up using a modest-sized solar concentrator. This process is made even more simple by the natural vacuum environment, which prevents overheating and overpressurizing of manufacturing facilities--it can simply be done "outside."

The two most abundant materials on the lunar surface, however, are oxygen (>40%) and silicon (>20%). Oxygen can be made into oxidizer for rockets and fuel cells or for breathing. Water is also made up mostly of oxygen (by weight, which is the important part for space travel). Silcon, in the form of can be made into solar cells (by the way, solar energy production is much more efficient on the Moon than on Earth), semiconductor devices, and glass/quartz (which are roughly 2 parts oxygen, 1 part silicon).

Greenhouses can definitely be built on the lunar surface (hence why I mentioned glass). The design of lunar greenhouses have been studied substantially. There are some regions near the poles of the Moon that have near constant sunlight, which is a big plus for building plants. There are no clouds on the Moon and, in fact, virtually no atmosphere, unlike Earth's atmosphere which blocks much of the Sun's photosynthetic potential. ...these are the also the primary reasons that solar energy production on the Moon is much more efficient than on Earth.
on May 31, 2007
there is also oxigen and water on the moon we just have to learn how to get it


Oxygen yes, water maybe. We need robotic missions in the next decade or two to anwer the "maybe." NASA is well on its way to completing one such mission (actually one dual mission). It's called the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) with the attached Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS....the "crater" part is because the water is believed to be in the permanently shadowed regions of polar craters). Also, several other nations are nearing launch of their own lunar spacecraft (China, India, and Japan).

The KEY part of your comment, however, was "we just have to learn how to get it"! This is a HUGE challenge, and we need active research and significant investment in this area. Tell your congresspeople this!!!!

Ok, I've gotta attend to some other things. I'll try to post more replies soon.

Thanks for everyone's interest!!!!
on Jun 01, 2007
Oxygen yes, water maybe


water yes i just watched on science channel all they have to do is cook or press the dust to get water. we just don't quite have it down yet
on Jun 01, 2007
water yes i just watched on science channel all they have to do is cook or press the dust to get water. we just don't quite have it down yet


Yes, IF there is water there. The evidence for water on the Moon though is still a bit iffy. I can provide more details if anyone is interested. The bottom line is we need to send more instruments there to find out for sure if there's water and in what concentration it exists.

Also, even though extraction of water ice from the lunar regolith is MUCH easier than extraction of oxygen or other materials from the regolith, it is no trivial task. Operating machinery in a 50-90 K cold trap (that's -223 to -183 Celsius or -370 to -298 F) is definitely a significant engineering challenge.
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