Tag Archives: craters

Water on the Moon: A Frank Summary of Implications

I. LCROSS has reported: “There is water in Cabeus.”  This is a long way from reading these word on a statue of Anthony Colaprete on the campus of Cabeus High School on the Moon but it is important. The picture below is of me on one of my family’s farms when I was a child but modified to seem the interior of one of my imagined lunar or Martian crater colonies. The wetlands, ponds and gardens at the bottom of the crater are analagous to the Pacific Ocean on Earth it is to be remembered. They are the great concentrations of the water. 

Crater cap fish

 

The way this environment could be effected is diagrammed below. However, since wet craters exist on the Moon’ polar regions the plans would need to be modified in the first colony. Thus the major solar arrays would either be orbital or (preferably) miles away and connected to the colony by buried cables. Later colonies in the regions of more light  would use a design closer to this one.

 

CCCC mining concept
How a crater on the Moon or Mars might be developed.

Here is a crude  and brief key to the diagram.

1. The ring at the top is a cap which covers the crater rim.
2.The yellowish gold lines running out from it are rail lines joining the colony to spaceports, colonies and other assets — no spacecraft are allowed near the colony.
3. The red straight lines are the rails on top of the cap built of very strong and light materials.
4.The blue disks are solar array which in the case of a polar colony would have to be remote.
5.The orange-gold disks on the land near bu or observational astronomy, science and communications assets.
6.The green square with the x in the middle is a green pyramidal building housing the only airlock connecting the colony to the surface.
7.The heavy dark green line and the heavy dark red line are buildings which as columns support the cap from the middle and have elevators connecting the floor to the cap and in the case of the green building to th rest of the universe.
8. The irregular green and blue areas at the bottom are the farming, fishing, park and hydrology features.
9.The series of lines in grays and blues and tube-like shapes fanning out near the bottom are the mines which would be the economic base of the  colonies in most cases.
10. In a mature colony many homes would be in the mines and the better ones would  carefully built into the rims of the craters. The floor space of the crater would only be for viewing, agriculture, recreation and truly urgent assignment for other uses. The mental health and prosperity of these colonies would depend upon such a rule.

 II. Having seen what could be does not mean that it will be. We will probably never do these things — but our only hope for a good future involves doing these things.

III. I hope ye few, ye brave, ye readers will consider getting involved in this process.

 

 

LCROSS: We Slam the Moon looking for Water

Tomorrow, on my clock here in Louisiana NASA will slam a school bus sized part of a space craft into the Cabeus crater on the Moon’s South Pole. A second shepherding spacecraft equipped with many sensors and transmitters will navigate through the particles, gasses and vapors and whatever may have been thrown up by the impactor. The principal purpose of this exercise is to prospect for water.

If the impact reveals an ample near ice cap in the shadows and just below the surface then many other factors will suggest to many people and companies that the Moon can become a hub for a space industry. If there is water rich subsoil that does not amount to the large quantities in an icy pole but is nontheless significant it means outposts and colonies on the Moon can be started with great care and skill and hoping for the best according to optimistic space boosters. If there is very little water then developing the Moon in any way will be a very costly and daunting task by most definitions and analyses of the situation. Of course the spot could be an anomaly and not represent much that is typical of anything but almost everyone will presume that this is not true.

The LCROSS will be a vital step in coming to know what the resources on the Moon are and how they are distributed. We know there is abundant water ice on the Martian poles. We know there is water in many other places in the solar system. However if it does not exist on the Moon it will be much harder for us to develop a real space policy than if it does not have water in greater than the small amounts we have already detected across most of the surface of the Moon.

The more water we find the more chance there is also for me to see the Crater Cap Colony Concept I have pushed for come to some kind of fruition in my lifetime. It will not cause anything to happen but will certainly help if LCROSS kicks up lots of water.  For some basic data on the LCROSS as it has been intended from the start go to:

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2009/jun/HQ_09-143_LCROSS_Launch_Success.html

This will interact with my own colonial ideas in complicated ways. But a water train shuttle or pipeline from the poles to feed the colonies would certainly be a vastly superior goal than hauling the water in from the Earth.

Crater cap fishCCCC mining concept

We may hit dry spots that are not typical or there may be malfunctions we do not detect. However, it would be great to find a great deal of ice and water. That is what I will be hoping until the report comes in to us all.

National Parks and Ken Burns

Tomorrow night my PBS station with Louisiana Public Broadcasting will be airing the Ken Burns film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. I have spent a significant amount of time in America’s National Parks. My times in Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Smoky Mountains,  Mammoth Caves and some of the other large natural areas are among my most precious memories and times in my life. Additionaly Jean Lafite and numerous other sites protected by the  National Park Service have enriched and been part of my life.  We have all got some capacity to appreciate the beauty of nature, all of us have a potential to be moved at the majesty of it all. I have been to Kunyu National Park in China, to numerous state and city parks in the USA and I truly do have some great memories of all these places. However, the National Parks of the United States hold a very special place in my heart and memory.  I remember my ex wife and I getting into a tent just before dark at a Mammoth Caves tentsite and then getting up to spend a good part of the day making two cave tours and then diving to Louisville where I spent two days a researching the Roy Striker deposit of files on and copies of  documentary film and photography at the Ekstrom Photographic Archives at the University of Louisville. We did other things that trip when the archives were closed but the National Park was the highlight of them all.

I will never forget the sense of awe which I experienced in going to see and walk through the giant sequoias. I will always remember the many conversations I had with rangers and the many lectures that I listened to given by rangers.   There have been analogous experiences and overlapping ones like visiting the twenty-one (actually not an exact number) California Missions that started the Great State of California on its path into Western Civilization. But in a life that has brought me also London and Truk Lagoon I have a very high esteem for the US National Park system. 

I also remember a bear coming into our camping area when I was a child at a national park and fishing for trout with my father in the clearest natural water I had ever seen.  I will never forget the awe I felt when I first saw the Grand Canyon. Those experiences have given me hope about humanity interacting with nature over the long haul. I have been away too long to be sure if some of the other sites that I have visited were National Parks or some other clasification. Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are among those.

I look forward to watching the PBS specials and enjoying Burns view of all this. We must face a future with the courage to build islands and undersea habitats and to colonize space. That must happen for us to be who we are and when we are doing that well then we will also be able to bring the Parks and new parks into their highest glory. I am not joking whne I say that Ilook forward to the day when our national parks are used to seed apecies into  artificial environments where no life exists today. I look forward today to see the  day when we use waste to build islands and colonize crater and free up more land to act as clean natural corridors connecting parks.

For now I hope that I will get to watch the Burns movie and let it move and educate me a little bit. Maybe it will be a bit of a tie to the future and the past. That would be both my personal past and future and larger collective and communal pasts and futures.

What about that water on the Moon?

Today NASA held a press conference revealing that by combining calibration sightings of a comet watcher called Deep Impact and the data aquired by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper riding a hundred kilometer orbit over the moon on the Chandrayan India based lunar mission. I watched the press conference on TV and am basing this note on what I remember from that conference without using any more sources. Somewhere on the site www.nasa.gov one can doubltless get the most up to date data. Probably some of it will correct errors in my summary below.

A Frank Summary of Moon Water Issue

1. The general surface of the Moon remains drier than any Earthly desert.

2. There is water difuse and spread over the whole surface of the moon in rough terms. There is is a chaotic and broad pattern of water distribution.

3. There is a broad distribution of hydroxyl as well which is a different combination of hydrogen and water.

4. There is evidence in ejecta that hydroxyl and possibly subsurface deposits of water have been thrown up by impacts.

5. There is an average of between one liter and one gallon of water in every ton of typical surface regolith.

6. There may still be water in permanent shade, water in subterranean deposits of ice and remnants of meteoric or comet borne material that was not part of this surface distribution.

7. We now have a baseline above zero for water on the moon. It is much less than Martian conditions and very austere but it can be combined with other elements of water located.  Together with other sources it increases the chances of successful futute lunar crater colonies above the worst case scenario.

A Personal and Objective Take on Outer Space

This post originaly appeared on Facebook in January but two new drawings have been added and a few typos corrected in this version.

Outer space is that portion of the universe that is farther from the center of the Earth than the highest reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere. It makes up more than 99.99999999999999% of the universe which we can physicaly perceive. If we were to divide up all of the physical space we can see or detect equally among all the inhabitants of the Earth the amount of space occupied by all humans alive today would make a minute and entirely insignificant portion of the share belonging to each person. However, most of that space is dark empty and has hardly any atomic particles in it and it is so far away that physicaly using those particles in any way in the next 100 generations can’t be reasonably imagined. But even our solar system alone would allow us to use a fraction nearly as big as that we started this argument with or maybe bigger. In the solar sytem most of the oxygen is in outer space, most of the carbon is in outer space, most of the hydrogen is in outer space, most of the helium is in outer space, most of the metals we call precious are almost cerianly there and the metals we need for highly specialized uses abound in outer space. It is almost certain that there is more liquid water under the ice of Jupiter’s moon Europa than there is on Earth. Nothing between the Sun and the orbit of Pluto is intrinsically beyond the reach of our own basic technology to reach, tag and return from roboticaly. Cost, law, design glitches and time are clearly identifiable obstacles. I said these things were not intrinsically impossbible by rearranging and refining existing technology. Given thse basic facts, I believe that an aggressive space policy is in the interest of all humans and of the Earth and all its species so long as it is mostly a wise policy or even largely a wise policy.

What inspires me to write this note today is the small concept group which I mentioned in my last Facebook note. I believe that the development of outer space is as important as anything else that confronts human beings in our age. The concept group is called Crater Cap Concept Colony Group. It is not the only group of people exploring the possibilities of space as a group and it is not the biggest such group either. However, it is certainly the only one that I have founded on Facebook. So that rates it an important mention in these notes.

Space colonization follows a chain going from observation, to exploration, to travel and exploration and then to stationing. After these things comes colonization. Space colonization has the chance to be the biggest change in human economy since the development of agriculture. The coming of agriculture was not an unmixed blessing but it was one of the most justifiable of all social changes in human history. Had humanity not become agricultural sooner or later things would have become much worse than they have gotten so far. Life today awaits at a crossroads as great as that of agriculture.The great works of irrigation for large scale agriculture created the mighty powers that ruled ancient China and Egypt and created societies that could pour weatlh into purchases that enabledother peoples to change from nomadic hunting or nomadic herding to a combination of nomadic herding and carrying trade goods. It enabled fisherfolk to increase their population by adding waterborne trade to their fishing economy. It enabled warrior bands to enter int0 long-term contracts with landholding kings and to earn a living partly from keeping the peace.  Agriculture really made a different human world and remade much of the world as well. The best hunter-gatherers were actually richer, healthier and freer than the new farmers but in the end the choice of the species as a whole to emphasize agriculture was a choice vital to both survivial and any real chance of prosperity. I think that space colonization requires a simlar leap and offers similar sets of consequences. I don’t really expect to live to see a working colony on the Moon or Mars. However, as long as I do live I will apply some of my energy to that transition humanity must make towards becoming a space colonizing species. The Crater Cap Concept Colony is the model I think we should be pushing towards making a reality.

While astronomy has always been a discipline that was a significant teacher and leader into fields of knowledge for much of the human race’s journey into development — it must yield to the leadership of those who will build permanent and sustainable colonies. On the day when Humans have a few colonies on the moon with tens of thousands of residents each it will be very easy to make huge progress i astronomy. However, aiming only for a golden age of astronomy will not necessarily bring about lunar colonization. The larger possibility must find the rank and leadership in these areas.

Craters are distinct features which can be studied and which have common characteristics. They exist on the Earth, the Moon, Mars, asteroids, several moons of our solar systems planet and can be theorized to exist in or near many other objects around our sun or other stars. Capping a crater has an intrinsic economic and resource wisdom to it because one is using the enormous energy already expended in creating the bowl and only creating one side. Frequently one could achieve enormous benefeits in blicking our cosmic rays and radiation. All of these benefits are true even for asteroids. However, in larger round objects like the Moon and Mars it is very likely that one could use the gravity to create a highly functioning biospheric hemisphere. In terms familiar to some, one could make a terrarium including one or more aquaria. Whether or not there is air or liquid water on the heavenly body would have little to do with the success of the crater cap colony. People could live in these and that is the basis of our little concept group.

just a crude drawing of a robot for for the Mars early phase
Second drawing of MATCHES (Mars Access to Crater Habitat Exploration Ship)
Last of MATCHES drawings.
I also think that once there is a crater colony (or certainly a few crater colonies) thriving on the moon then one would have a basis for many industries.  Things manufactured on the moon would be esily lifted and deployed to Mars colonization, to space ships, to Earth orbiting stations and to asteroid miners. One sixth gravity is economic magic that would make all solar system operations entirely different. Producing goods in . pace and dropping them to earth is intrincsically cheap. Thus carbon fuels highly refined could be lifted to the moon wherthe will be mixed with gasses made impure for colonies by various accidents and industries. These fuels would lift six times as much from the Moon as the would from the Earth and these fuels would not affect Earth’s air and climate when burned. Very precious things would be “downported” by Earth to maintain a balance. In the distant future components of landing craft returning to Earth would be built with precious metals needed by agencies and nations on Earth. This would create a flow of commerce to bring our population base into outer space. Within a few centuries perhaps a significant minority of cities and farms could be in outer space without any flash bang science that includes things we cannot imagine.

Once we have a couple of crater colonies on the moon we would need geosynchronous sattelite and another base perhaps at an L point between lunar and Terran gravity. These would be the places where all aging nuclear waepons were diposed of by either being loaded on spacecraft for second or third explosions or used in initial explosions to launch really massive spacecraft to move very fast on the way to other colonies and smaller robotes on their way to the stars.

None of this is pure fantasy. I think we should divide up most of the surface of the Moon and Mars among all of earth’s nations unequally, sell some as new national sites and keep a good portion as a permanent UN mandate. Failing to act wisely now either means we willl lose humanity’s greatest economic opportunity or else nd up with a really horrible policy made under more pressing conditions. I am not optimistic that we will make good choices. But I think our behavior in this century will determine the human future’s outlook for all of foreseeable human society.

I am committed to specific goals but I support all who are sincerely striving for a human future in space that is wise and sustainable. Good luck and God Bless to all of you out there. I am not a likely expert or member of the space community but I cherish this hope for an expanding future. Perhaps the amateurish perspective will cost me a few Facebbok friends. I lost two inj the first year and have lost four lately. However, I am grateful for the professionals on my list at the time of this writing.