Lunar Water Discovery Announced

Just in case you missed the news today: NASA’s LCROSS mission produced some results (officially) today, with the announcement ‘that a “significant” amount of water has been found on the moon.’]( (Huffington Post)

Bonus commentary w/ other links to the news (careful: ethanol reference and isolated use of choice language).

And: a congratulations to NASA. Google even made a celebratory banner. Keep the great space news coming!


I’m thinking that that a moon base now is even more feasible…

Now I’m looking forward to it! :slight_smile:

Does that mean Lunacy was really a water game? :rolleyes:

No no no, we didn’t blow any craters in it. You’re thinking of the 2010 game. That’s why we’re supposed to keep all of our FRP “regolith.”

In all seriousness though, I was very excited to hear about the “significant” amount that was found. As someone who’s wanted to work at NASA since I was little, I’m looking forward to what the future will bring for NASA. Hopefully I can soon be a part of it all.

I’m very excited. Partly because there’s a significant amount of water on the moon which might pave the way for space exploration, extended scientific ventures to the moon, and other stuff like that…

and partly so I have something to taunt some of my ill-informed friends with, who protested this “blow up the moon!” mission. :smiley: (No, not really “taunting”)

In all seriousness, this sounds like a huge discovery.

It also sounds like a business opportunity: Bottled Moon Water! :rolleyes:

First of all, congratulations and thanks are due to all on the LRO/LCROSS team who made this spacecraft a reality. :slight_smile:

Secondly, I hate to be a downer, but why is there such a huge emphasis on lunar water?

After the last Shuttle flies, we’ll be paying another nation in the range of $50 million dollars to fly our astronauts to the ISS. To get to the moon will require huge sums of money to build/man-rate a new rocket or two, finish a capsule and build a new lunar module! Sure water can be decomposed to rocket fuel or used for drinking, but I’d imagine we’ll be bringing our own fuel (and water) for the ride home for a long time before we risk filling up on the moon, even if it is prevalent enough to support such a mission.

I mean, if ice is all it takes to convince Congress and the President that the moon is a worthy deal, then of course it’s great news. But why does it make the Moon more appealing for manned exploration? Is it just the romanticism of it?

Don’t get me wrong, space is awesome. I want to build rockets when I grow up, and occasionally read textbooks in my spare time (Yep, I’m a dork). I find it fascinating for the technical challenges, but worry about the long term effects of selling programs on empty promises.

I could see Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis with a bottle of this on their desks…

If enough water is locally accessible, the logistics of supporting permanent lunar bases becomes easier. With water, one can readily produce oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for fuel. With enough water, lunar regolith could become a building material (i.e. moon concrete). Delivering water from earth to the moon is very expensive ($M/gallon?), having it in the crater next door opens many more possibilities for colonization.

Actually, Elon Musk might have a solution already being built. The Dragon capsule is being built with crew in mind, despite being primarily a cargo vehicle. (Now the question is, how to get it and a lander of choice to the moon and back…)

Why do it with government money when a solution is being built in the private sector?

(And, if you want to build rockets, you might want to take a look at the rest of the linked site. Definitely interesting.)

I gotcha. So, essentially it makes spending the billions to get to that point more worthwhile if it’s easier to maintain the eventual fingers crossed! base?

I’m already a SpaceX junkie. I sincerely hope they get the chance to fly a crewed Dragon, but I’m a cautious optimist. There’s a lot of work and uncertainty between next year’s inaugural launch (currently looks like Feb 2nd) and an eventual crewed launch.

I’m sure it’s just from Dean spraying it with water to reduce the static electricity…

In the 60s/70s it made sense to go to the moon because it hadn’t been done before and we weren’t sure what we’d find. Besides, we couldn’t let the Soviets do it first.

A great next step would be to establish a moon base, but it still needs to have a purpose more than “hey, it’s there, let’s do it”. Perhaps it becomes the launching pad for a Mars mission, but the scale of that effort would seem to be just too massive to move it to the moon. At a minimum, we need to solve the extended exposure to radiation problem on long space travel, and where to get the fuel to launch off of Mars surface which has 38% of earths surface gravity. A lunar module isn’t going to get astronauts off of Mars, it’s going to take a lot more thrust than that. Darn it, I really want to see a real effort to get to and from Mars surface. The moon is a dud by comparison.

Have you read Zubrin’s “The Case for Mars”? It’s obviously pretty biased for Martian exploration, but it does a fantastic job of including lots of technical goodies while maintaining readability. Notably, at least according to Zubrin, as long as there is no solar flare while in transit, the radiation is not a huge problem for a 1.5 year expedition (time between leaving and returning to Earth).

Also, in-situ propellant manufacturing is really neat. Essentially, Mars has lots of CO2. O2 and CH4 make pretty good rocket fuel. If you bring the LH2 with you (which is nice and light) and “mine” the heavy stuff from the Martian atmosphere, it becomes significantly cheaper to launch/land. I’d love to see a lander just to test the concept, but I doubt Congress would be willing to lay down the cash for a proof of concept rover.

Just curious, what makes Mars any better then the moon? I personally think they are both rather wasteful of resources, but if we must go for one…let’s go for the closest.

No, but I’ll seek it out.

There is a new silicon-germanium circuit manufacturing process that looks like it can solve the microcircuit radiation hardening problem. Manufacturing fuel is a level of complexity we never had with the moon missions, but higher thrust also requires more complex landers and the whole project is really massive. It seems to me to be as massive a challenge today as the original Apollo missions with 1950’s/1960’s technology.

Been there, done that. To secure funding, the new mission has to be something very new and exciting. What was the US reaction when China announced it is going to the moon? That’s great, but 40+ years too late. I think we have to set a higher target, and even a hint of “we’ll choose the moon because Mars is too difficult” is not acceptable. Aim high!

Scientific exploration should be done for scientific significance. I’d hope we have more reason to focus on Mars then “its new” when we haven’t really learned all there is to know about the Moon(or even Earth). Is it really just for the wow factor? or is there something more to it?

The day we stop exploring and venturing out into the unknown universe is the day the soul of humanity dies.

You must spread some Reputation around before giving it to artdutra04 again.

The Moon landing likely inspired more people to pursue science, technology, and engineering than anything else in human history.

Human spaceflight is justified almost exclusively on the “wow” factor. Most recent exploration has. Shackleton, Byrd, Peary, Amundsen, Scott and others ventured into the frigid North and South for prestige. We raced the Soviets to the moon for prestige. We continue flying into space for prestige. We’ve got a lot to be proud of, so it’ll take an incredible display of technology before the United States feels truly threatened in this leadership.

We could’ve launched the world’s first satellite. We didn’t, because we (or Eisenhower’s administration, at any rate) didn’t think it was worth the money. Then came Sputnik and public outcry. 83 days after receiving the go ahead, AMBA (von Braun’s division that would later form the foundation for the Marshall Spaceflight Center) sent Explorer I into orbit.

Of course, there is lots of Science that goes on at the ISS. The Shuttle also used to fly exclusively science missions. However, if you really wanted to just do straight up science, wouldn’t it be easier to spend the $300-$500 million (per Shuttle launch) on University research grants?

Why not ask JFK why we went to the moon?


I crafted 2 separate posts during lunch, mulling over a response to the wow factor question. The more I thought about it, did some searches, and reasoned with myself, the more frustrated I became and chose not to post either one. The reason was because there are much more qualified members in ChiefDelphi that can respond to that question than I can and I should be quiet.

I should. But… :slight_smile:

There is much more to exploration and discovery than the wow factor. There is opportunity in so many areas that it is mind boggling. In one of my posts, I listed 10 areas right off the top of my head and that was before I started doing searches for ‘the purpose of space exploration’.

The bottom line for me is that if we choose not to explore and discover, I think it is akin to thinking the world is flat and we’ll fall off the edge - in areas of science, math, and technology, and all of the areas they impact, in that which we call humankind.