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 2)
on Jun 01, 2007
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.


there is water there in the dust

when you pick up a handful of moon dust you are also picking up oxygen and water

it is in every handful we just have to learn how to destill it effecintally

and i need to learn how to spell.


your talking about standing water

i am talking about water in the dirt
on Jun 01, 2007
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.


as far as this is all you have to do is have a big enough building/truck for people to work in the dust comes in one end and oxygen, water, building material goes out the other
on Jun 01, 2007
there is water there in the dust when you pick up a handful of moon dust you are also picking up oxygen and water it is in every handful we just have to learn how to destill it effecintally and i need to learn how to spell.your talking about standing water i am talking about water in the dirt


If you are talking about there being the constituent elements that make up water (hydrogen and oxygen), then yes, there is "water" in lunar regolith. But it turns out there is very, very little hydrogen (about 100 parts per million or less).

At the lunar poles, however, the situation may be different. There may be up to 1% water ice mixed in with the lunar regolith. It may be in higher concentrations in some smaller areas, but the best we know is that averaged over areas as large as 100s square kilometers, the concentration could be as high as 1%. This evidence is mainly neutron spectrometer data from the Lunar Prospector mission, radar data from the Clementine mission, and some ground-based radar data. Still, this data does NOT *uniquely* identify water as the substance contained in these permanently shadowed craters. I would have to go into more detail about the data sets to tell you all the possibilities and how strong the data is in suggesting it is water. There is plenty of info out on the internet, though, and for now I'd just like to say, the bottom line is the cat is not out of the bag quite yet.
on Jun 01, 2007
as far as this is all you have to do is have a big enough building/truck for people to work in the dust comes in one end and oxygen, water, building material goes out the other


It is not so simple. First of all, we have no known lubricants that can operate at 50-90 K, so we will have to invent new ones, in order to have moving parts operate in permanently-shadowed craters on the Moon. There are other operational challenges. For example, in permanently-shadowed, there is no direct communications link to Earth, so you will probably need a communications relay satellite in lunar orbit, or a communications tower along the rim of the crater. In addition, you need some way to get to the bottom of the crater, which is no trivial task. Finally, digging up and moving around of lunar regolith is no easy task. There was recently a competition to design machines to do this...none completed the goals of this competition. I'm not saying it can't be done, but it's not easy. Check out this website for more details: http://www.californiaspaceauthority.org/regolith/

Lastly, extracting water ice mixed in with lunar regolith is relatively straight forward, but extracting oxygen from pure lunar regolith (i.e. lunar regolith not containing water ice), is NOT an easy task. You have to heat the regolith up to VERY high temperatures, and there are some nasty chemical reactions involved. I can provide more details for anyone interested.
on Jun 01, 2007
I wonder if we will ever do anything with the moon other than visit it.


I wonder, too.....but I'm pretty certain we will inhabit the Moon, at least to the level that we inhabit Antarctica permanently for scientific research. The Moon, in fact, may become more inhabited than Antarctica because there is potential for a large amount of industry on the Moon and also the potential for spaceports based on the Moon. It may become a "gateway" to other points in the solar system. Most likely, however, is it will be a cheap source of materials and supplies for spacecraft that will stay in either high-Earth-orbit, or travel to other parts of the solar system.

Lastly, I wanted to mention....I do more than wonder! "Be the change you want to see in the world [universe]!" Everyone can help in expanding the boundaries of human civilization. If you think it's important to preserve the human species beyond Earth's limited lifetime, you can start by writing your Congressperson TODAY. We spend far less than 1% of our federal budget on protecting our species' long-range survival........even a full 1% spent on our future would allow us to progress much, much faster and be in much less risk of establishing a permanent foothold in space before it's too late!
on Jun 01, 2007
populate it with prisoners - like an Alcatraz? They closed alcatraz.


This is an interesting thought....but I actually think the exact opposite. We should leave all the criminals and extremely lazy people on Earth. One nice thing about Earth is it's difficult to escape from (because of its large gravitiy). You also have to pack very carefully before you leave because you can only afford to take the things you really need. So big, heavy things like guns and bombs, that you don't really need in space, can be left at home. There are no violent criminals in space that we know of (ok, I'm anticipating comments about Lisa Nowak, but she had only pepper spray and a BB gun....and these items didn't make it to space, only to Florida), so no need to bring weapons to space to protect against criminals.

Anyways, this is my dream about space. We can conscientiously build new societies and cultures in space, learning from our 100,000s of years of history on Earth. Don't get me wrong....EARTH IS A COOL PLACE...It's where I grew up my whole life...but it's a far from perfect place, so when we establish our civilization in space, we should be careful about the rules we set up, what we bring there, and even WHO we bring.
on Jun 01, 2007
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


Very true. Delta V is a measure used in rocket science to measure the magnitude of maneuvers made to get to different places (orbits in space). Delta V is short for "change in velocity," and it is roughly* equal to the incremental change in velocity that a rocket undergoes to get to its desired orbit. It is also roughly* proportional to the amount of propellent needed to perform such maneuvers.

Anyways, bottom line:

Delta V to reach low-Earth orbit (from Earth surface): ~9 km/s
Delta V to reach low-lunar orbit (from lunar surface): <2 km/s
* I say "roughly" equal because there are other "sinks" of energy when a rocket converts its fuel's chemical energy into kinetic energy, in order to achieve a particular orbit. The quantity "delta V" is really just an artifact of the "rocket equation", rather than a quantity having a specific, accurate physical meaning. It is only "roughly" equivalent to the amount of propellent needed for similar reasons and the mathematics of the rocket equation show this. If anyone finds me to wrong, however, PLEASE let me know. I spent many, many hours trying to convince myself that delta V should be roughly proportional to the amount of propellant used, and I only achieved ~95% success in convincing myself.
on Jun 01, 2007
Actually, most humans find that it's easier to fuel down here on Earth.


I get your point. Currently our cars, planes, rockets, and other transportation devices all get their fuel from Earth. But the primary source of this fuel (hydrocarbons) is being depleted faster than it is being replaced, and a simple equation will show that, if these two rates stay roughly the same, our hydrocarbons will eventually run out. More likely though, they will become more and more expensive, therefore people will look more and more towards other sources of concentrated energy. For reasons slightly too complicated and lengthly to explain at this very moment, I can prove that the only solution to our growing energy needs is to import energy from beyond Earth. I can also prove that, at some point, our demand for energy will outgrow Earth's ability to give off the heat that all energy eventually gets converted into. Therefore, if our population and energy needs continue to grow, we will have no alternative but to export some of our human activities to outer space.

See my previous post (Thursday) regarding economic studies comparing Earth-based refueling to lunar-based refueling. As infrastructure on the Moon and in high-Earth orbit (in particular) develops, it will become easier and easier (i.e. cheaper and cheaper) to refuel in space, and since Earth-based fuels will increase in price, more and more people will evenually choose to refuel in space.


Hopefully I will be able to post these alleged proofs I refer to here at a later point, if there is enough interest. I encourage you all, however, to go to the library (or amazon.com or some other source of literature) and check out some books by Gerald O'Neill. He thought of all this stuff before I was even born.

Ok, now I give some other people a chance to write.
on Jun 05, 2007
I was letting this article rest a few days to give other people a chance to comment...but it seems the interest may have fizzled out. In any case, I want to answer the rest of the questions posed in previous comments.

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


Well, one reason I want the U.S. to lead in space exploration and settlement, asides from my pride in being a U.S. citizen, is that the U.S. has a pretty decent human rights record, compared to some other nations. In particular I was thinking about the U.S. in comparison to China, but Russia unfortunately isn't far ahead of China these days.

Space plays a part because by extending human activities to space and to other planets/worlds, we are in effect extending human civilization--with all of its associated rules, laws, culture, and values--into virgin worlds. I would rather the U.S. play a leading role in this development, rather than a country which does not allow basic human rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of religion.

The applicability and establishment of international law in Outer Space is a subject that has attracted great interest from "space lawyers" and others. Much has been written on it, and there are five basic treaties that form the foundation of space law. The most important of these is the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. Basically though, these are just weak tentacles of an already weak Earth-based system of international law. Until laws have a local enforcement mechanism, by definition, they have no force. As the moon gains independence from Earth, it will also gain independence from any enforcement mechanism of Earth laws, and therefore, it will need its own systems of laws and law enforcement.

Let me know if this is still unclear, or if you have more questions on these issues.
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