Sunday, October 31, 2010

NASA LCROSS - Mining the Moon

Map of the hydrogen abundance within the moon's Cabeus crater, as measured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Purple corresponds to higher levels, red to lower ones. 

The coloured stars represent where NASA's LCROSS mission impacted Cabeus in October 2009, to determine how much water it held. 

The insert (upper right) represents a map of subsurface temperatures within Cabeus recorded by LRO. Credit: Science/AAAS

The first extraterrestrial mining operation in human history will likely start up on the moon, thanks to its ample and relatively accessible stores of water ice, experts say.
That was the majority view of a panel of scientists and engineers asked to consider where, beyond Earth, humanity should go first to extract resources.
The moon won out over asteroids and Mars, chiefly because it's so close to Earth and has so much water, as well as other resources like methane and ammonia.
"I think the moon is clearly the answer," said Greg Baiden, chief technology officer of Penguin Automated Systems, a robotic technology firm. "I could easily make a business case for going to the moon."
Baiden spoke during a session here yesterday (Oct. 29) at a conference called Space Manufacturing 14: Critical Technologies for Space Settlement. The meeting is organized by the non-profit Space Studies Institute.
Private enterprise, Baiden and others said, will likely lead the way to mining the moon because there's so much money to be made, but it will probably need government to prime the pump.

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