Tag Archives: Moon

Cancer-causing Concrete! Nice!

So those cancer-causing nanotubes that people are raving about (wait, are they?) might be combined with the vast supply of dust and debris on the moon to make a new kind of concrete for structures on the moon.  It seems like a workable idea, though, and the cost of structures would be very minimal.  NASA’s idea is to build telescopes, satellite arrays, and other equipment on the moon and utilize this new “concrete” for those purposes.  Considering all the material is readily available, it doesn’t really take much to conceive of a science station up there.  Or a moon colony – oh, now that’s exciting.

Every month the Earth beats up the Moon with its magnetotail

The Earth's magnetotail is a pretty thing to imagineThe Moon seems like a pretty static place. After all, there’s little atmosphere and apart from occasional meteorite impacts, nothing much happens. Or so we thought. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission found that every month when the moon is full, the moon crosses through the Earth’s magnetotail, bathing our satellite in high energy charged particles that may create dust storms and electrical static.

Astronauts have never been on the Moon during this period. Landings have never taken place when the moon is full. But as Roland Piquepaille on ZDNet’s Emerging Tech blog discusses, if astronauts return to the moon to establish a base, they will have to face the challenges of the magnetotail, which could clog up vents and even give astronauts electric shocks!

[via Science Daily, image by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab]

NASA tests giant robot that could pick up and move a Moon base

ATHLETE robot My last couple of posts have been about nanotechnology, so naturally this time around it was an item on something very large that caught my eye (Via NewScientist Space):

NASA engineers are testing out a giant, six-legged robot that could pick up and move a future Moon base thousands of kilometres across the lunar surface, allowing astronauts to explore much more than just the area around their landing site.

ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer–is there, like a whole department at NASA dedicated just to coming up with acronyms?) would be about 7.5 metres wide, with legs more than 6 metres long. Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, are now testing two small-scale prototype.

Check out the video of ATHLETE lowering itselfvideo of ATHLETE walking and driving, and video of two ATHLETE robots lifting a mock lunar module off its mount).

(Image: NASA/JPL)

[tags]robots,NASA,lunar exploration,Moon[/tags]

Freakonomics asks – Is Space Exploration Worth the Cost?

Freakonomics has an excellent quorum of space experts and economists talking about a very interesting question – Is Space Exploration Worth The Cost? There are some interesting points made although all of the participants are in the field of space science, so naturally they all agree it’s a good thing! It would have been nice to have a few dissenting views but even so there are some good quotes here.

G. Scott Hubbard: “We explore space and create important new technologies to advance our economy. It is true that, for every dollar we spend on the space program, the U.S. economy receives about $8 of economic benefit. Space exploration can also serve as a stimulus for children to enter the fields of science and engineering.”

Keith Cowing: “Right now, all of America’s human space flight programs cost around $7 billion a year. That’s pennies per person per day. In 2006, according to the USDA, Americans spent more than $154 billion on alcohol. We spend around $10 billion a month in Iraq. And so on. Are these things more important than human spaceflight because we spend more money on them? Is space exploration less important?”

John M. Logsdon: “In the longer run, I believe that human exploration is needed to answer two questions. One is: “Are there activities in other places in the solar system of such economic value that they justify high costs in performing them?” The other is: “Can humans living away from Earth obtain at least a major portion of what they need to survive from local resources?” If the answer to both questions is “yes,” then I believe that eventually some number of people in the future will establish permanent settlements away from Earth.”

Personally I agree with Charles Stross that living away from Earth has so many things to overcome that it’s unlikely without huge discoveries but the value of space exploration in our lifetimes may be in asteroid mining – with many new technologies like solar cells rapidly using up some of Earth’s more scarce elements.

A braw bricht moonlit nicht is a rare thing in the universe

Earth and Moon New observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that moons like Earth’s are rare across the universe, occurring in only five to 10 percent of planetary systems at most. (Via Science Daily.)

The observation is based on the belief that the moon was born when the infant Earth was clobbered by something the size of Mars (shades of Velikovsky, except he had collisions like that that happening in historical times). Astronomers don’t see the amount of dust around other stars they would expect to see if those types of collisions were common.

This could have an impact on the likelihood of land-based life on other planets, since life may have moved from the ocean to the land on Earth due to the tides the moon induces. And here’s another question: would we have dreamed of travelling to other worlds if we hadn’t had one hanging so conveniently close in the night sky? Without a moon, would other civilizations ever develop space travel? (Image: NASA.)

Here’s an even more alarming thought: without a moon, think how differently science fiction would have developed. It might not even have developed at all.

And worse yet, what would songwriters have done without a moon to rhyme June with?

Why, the mind boggles.

UPDATE: Here’s an article from Astrobiology Magazine examining what Earth would be like "If We Had No Moon."