Ice confirmed on the moon.

Posted: 14th November 2009 by Mike Trent in Science, Space
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Not just a little water ice and not water locked into the rocks but real honest to goodness ice. The 1998 Lunar Prospector mission returned data indicating that there was a high likelihood of water on the moon. 11 years later on October 9th the $79 million dollar probe LCROSS impacted the moon with a projectile before itself plunging into the lunar crater Cabeus providing the data that moon base proponents were hoping for.

With the presence of water ice on the moon the logistics and cost of transporting water to the moon has evaporated. Water can be utilized by moon base inhabitants for life support needs. The water can be converted into Oxygen for breathing as well as Hydrogen and Oxygen for rocket propellent, thru the use of electrolysis using solar panels. Water is also very good protection against cosmic and solar radiation so water ice can be used as a protective shell for a moon base.

The current model for a space habitat involves inflatable modules. These modules are potentially inexpensive, quick to construct and can have pockets that water can be pumped into for radiation protection. Such space bases could be constructed very quickly with few workers. I predict that eager mining ventures are taking notice of this new information coming out of NASA and other space agencies. The idea of mining in space may seem pie in the sky to most, but consider this; space mining operations are no more dangerous than deep sea oil operations and probably not much more costly.

While it is logical that in space there would be few concerns over environmental impact it is likely that there will be archeological concerns. We don’t know if these bodies have been visited before, and if they have there should be legislation for the protection of such archeological sites if they are discovered. Though, under international treaty no nation may lay claim to celestial real estate, so too should corporations that would exercise such claims be barred. Mining rights should be set under international treaty with specific rules regarding mining leases and natural resource royalties. Royalties should be paid to an international body responsible with furthering space exploration and promoting celestial enterprises.

This is a big discovery though the common person may not yet realize it. The potential provided by this discovery is great. There are many that believe we should ignore the moon and jump to Mars but I strongly disagree. I believe that the moon is very important in furthering our reach into space.  Just because we build rockets and have been to the moon, we are not yet a space-faring society. We have only stepped into our own back yard. Not only have we not reached our own back yard fence, we are not even sure what our back yard fence looks like.  My hope is that this discovery is kindling the spark of imagination in boardrooms across this great planet of ours.

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