NASA Taking A Second Look At Mercury

Posted by on Nov 9, 2010 in Ice Water, Mercury, NASA | 3 comments

After six long years of space travel, NASA’s Messenger probe will finally be able to experience a close encounter with the world known as Mercury.

Although most of the planet has already been mapped, scientists are hoping that Messenger will be able to confirm whether or not the first rock from the Sun harbors water upon its Sun baked surface.

Most intriguing is what Messenger will find when it peers into craters near Mercury’s poles. The day side of Mercury reaches 800 degrees Fahrenheit, but within the shadows of the polar craters, where the Sun never shines, temperatures are thought to be around minus 300 degrees.

That means there could be large deposits of water ice on Mercury. Radar measurements from Earth have already given suggestions of water, but some scientists believe that the deposits could instead be sulfur or silicates, which could produce the same radar results. (New York Times)

If water is confirmed to exist within the shadowy craters of Mercury, it could potentially open up the planet for settlement in the semi-distant future.

While colonists would be insane to venture outside during the Mercurian day, they would be able to explore the surface during the night without fear of being irradiated thanks to the planet’s magnetic field.

Although the existence of water ice would not raise Mercury’s profile as a world humanity would need to conquer (unless of course a massive amount of metals and minerals are discovered upon the surface), it would help make the world a lot easier to inhabit for future settlers.

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NASA Gives Us 600 Million Reasons To Revisit The Moon

Posted by on Aug 4, 2010 in Ice Water, Moon, NASA | 2 comments

Mini-SAR map of the Circular Polarization Ratio (CPR) of the north pole of the Moon. Fresh, “normal” craters (red circles) show high values of CPR inside and outside their rims. This is consistent with the distribution of rocks and ejected blocks around fresh impact features, indicating that the high CPR here is surface scattering. The “anomalous” craters (green circles) have high CPR within, but not outside their rims.

After discovering water on the Moon (thanks in part to India’s satellite), it looks like scientists have discovered large quantities of ice water in the lunar north pole.

Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near the moon’s north pole. NASA’s Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters with water ice. The craters range in size from 1 to 9 miles (2 to15 km) in diameter. Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness in each crater, it’s estimated there could be at least 1.3 trillion pounds (600 million metric tons) of water ice. […]

Numerous craters near the poles of the Moon have interiors that are in permanent sun shadow.  These areas are very cold and water ice is stable there essentially indefinitely.  Fresh craters show high degrees of surface roughness (high CPR) both inside and outside the crater rim, caused by sharp rocks and block fields that are distributed over the entire crater area.  However, Mini-SAR has found craters near the north pole that have high CPR inside, but not outside their rims.  This relation suggests that the high CPR is not caused by roughness, but by some material that is restricted within the interiors of these craters.  We interpret this relation as consistent with water ice present in these craters.  The ice must be relatively pure and at least a couple of meters thick to give this signature. (NASA)

Although it was known for quite some time that the Moon did possess large quantities of water near the north pole, it was unclear as to how much until now.

The large amount of water ice should make it relatively easy for astronauts to establish outposts upon the lunar surface without heavily depending on Earth for water and supplies.

Future settlers can also use the water to make rocket fuel, which will help humanity in their quest to conquer our star system.

Despite the fact that Congress still debating over how we will get to the Moon (or rather whether partnering with the private sector is a good idea), it’s only a matter of time before humanity revisits and settles upon Earth’s nearest neighbor.

(via Universe Today)

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3 Different Flavors Of Lunar Water?

Posted by on Mar 22, 2010 in Blog, Ice Water, Moon | 1 comment

(Image Credit: Unknown)

Ever since we discovered water on the Moon, scientists have been trying to figure out how much water is upon the lunar surface, and whether or not there would be enough to sustain not only colonists but perhaps a few rockets as well.

Now it looks like there may be “3 different flavors” of lunar water, which could help decide where future moon bases are established.

(Physorg.com)  “If you converted those craters’ water into rocket fuel, you’d have enough fuel to launch the equivalent of one space shuttle per day for more than 2000 years. But our observations are just a part of an even more tantalizing story about what’s going on up on the Moon.” […]

“So far we’ve found three types of moonwater,” says Spudis. “We have Mini-SAR’s thick lenses of nearly pure crater ice, LCROSS’s fluffy mix of ice crystals and dirt, and M-cube’s thin layer that comes and goes all across the surface of the Moon.”

Although this still means that most of Luna is still drier than a terrestrial desert, the fact that many craters contain vast amounts of water ice means that future lunar outposts will become a reality in the near future.

While these “oasis craters” may spark debate about lunar property rights and perhaps some tension amongst the first lunar powers, their presence may signal that humanities first home beyond the sky will be upon our celestial next door neighbor.

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Luna, Luna, Dripping Wet? (Moon Water)

Posted by on Mar 16, 2010 in Blog, Ice Water, Moon, NASA | 1 comment


(Image Credit: Image: ISRO / NASA / JHUAPL / LP)

Orbiting approximately 1 light second away from Earth, the Moon (also known as Luna) surprised scientists after water ice was discovered upon its surface.

Recently NASA discovered more ice water upon the Moon, painting a picture that Earth’s nearest neighbor is not as dry as we once thought.

(NASA) Using data from a NASA radar that flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists have detected ice deposits near the moon’s north pole. NASA’s Mini-SAR instrument, a lightweight, synthetic aperture radar, found more than 40 small craters with water ice. The craters range in size from 1 to 9 miles (2 to15 km) in diameter. Although the total amount of ice depends on its thickness in each crater, it’s estimated there could be at least 1.3 trillion pounds (600 million metric tons) of water ice.

“The emerging picture from the multiple measurements and resulting data of the instruments on lunar missions indicates that water creation, migration, deposition and retention are occurring on the moon,” said Paul Spudis, principal investigator of the Mini-SAR experiment at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. “The new discoveries show the moon is an even more interesting and attractive scientific, exploration and operational destination than people had previously thought.” […]

“After analyzing the data, our science team determined a strong indication of water ice, a finding which will give future missions a new target to further explore and exploit,” said Jason Crusan, program executive for the Mini-RF Program for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate in Washington.


(Image Credit: USGS / JPL / NASA)

Previously it was assumed that the Moon was extremly dry, and that any water discovered would be heavily mixed with dust, rocks and other chemicals.

Now it seems as if there might be an “abundance” of water upon Luna, which could translate into future colonies upon this barren world.

(NY Times Dr. Spudis, a scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, said he guessed the water ice in the north polar craters might be 90 percent pure. He said the team was currently analyzing data covering the south pole craters. […]

In addition to the water near the poles, scientists also reported that a very thin layer of water covers much of the lunar surface. Water, it appears, not only exists, but is also moving around. “The moon is working in a way you didn’t expect,” Dr. Spudis said.

If scientists can locate more craters with large volumes of water ice, humanity may witness the first off world settlements being established within the next 20 years!

Whether those colonies are American (via the private sector) or Chinese has yet to be determined, but either way the Moon is establishing itself as the next stop for humanity (a thought that might not please a few Martian fans).

–Posted on my iPhone

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Water Is Wet–And So Is The Moon?

Posted by on Nov 16, 2009 in Blog, Ice Water, Moon, NASA | 0 comments

Update: Image selected from Digital Fortress, original artist (thus far) unknown.

Despite it’s dry appearance, it looks as if Earth’s little brother has some water after all.

After NASA “bombed” the moon (or rather smashed two objects into the surface), the American space agency can now confirm that some parts of Luna are wetter than the Sahara Desert.

(NASA) Preliminary data from NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, indicates the mission successfully uncovered water in a permanently shadowed lunar crater. The discovery opens a new chapter in our understanding of the moon. […]

Scientists long have speculated about the source of significant quantities of hydrogen that have been observed at the lunar poles. The LCROSS findings are shedding new light on the question with the discovery of water, which could be more widespread and in greater quantity than previously suspected. […]

“We are ecstatic,” said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water.”

This is great news for Lunar fans, as it means that we may actually see a lunar colony within our life time.

While NASA had yet to figure out how to efficiently extract and filter Moon water, it’s presence means that NASA will not have to seed Luna with hydrogen tanks (in order to ensure that future colonists had plenty to drink).

— Posted from my iPhone

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Moon: Oxygen, Oxygen Everywhere, But We’ll Need Hydrogen To Drink

Posted by on Oct 30, 2009 in Blog, Ice Water, Moon, Solar Essay | 3 comments

nasalonemoon

The discovery of water within the lunar soil earlier set off a buzz amongst the space geek community.

While Luna’s revelation inspired dreams of interplanetary conquest, the fact is that the Moon’s soil is far too dry for us to use as a fountain, let alone for watering crop.

Instead of digging through 10 million tons of soil in order to get 10,000 liters of water, it might be easier (and cheaper) to simply ship tanks of hydrogen instead.


moondig1

Unmanned space craft could help open up the lunar frontier by steadily seeding Luna with thousands upon thousands of hydrogen tanks upon it’s surface.

Since about 40% of the lunar soil is composed of oxygen, future explorers could extract it from the Moon dirt, and then mix it with hydrogen dropped off by previous unmanned rockets.

moonsoil

(Image Credit: Crystal Links- Lunar Mining)

Water can then be heavily filtered and recycled, allowing humanitiy to establish independent lunar outposts without the need of frequent supplies.

As a bonus, future settlers could use the spare hydrogen and oxygen to also create rocket fuel, which could help reduce the cost of missions elsewhere (whether it’s Mars, Ceres or even the moons of Jupiter).

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