Friday, September 25, 2009

Moon Water

I have waited until the end of the week to post about the most exciting and interesting topic in the space industry to come about in a long time. By now most people know about the amazing discovery that the Moon harbors more water on its surface than scientists ever thought. No, we're not talking lake beds of course, but as far as I'm concerned, that's not the point. What struck me as most interesting is the process by which this water seemed to generate, dissipate, and regenerate as the Lunar day progressed.

If, as one hypothesis suggests, the water is being created by a process of solar wind striking the Lunar soil, thereby creating water and hydroxyl molecules, it stands to reason that we might be able to duplicate this process artificially and manufacture water in space. Think of that, using Lunar soil to make water. No longer would we have to worry about the ever present "water question" when it comes to traveling off Earth. Of course, there needs to be significant return on the production of water for it to be feasible. If one can only create 32 oz of water from a ton of soil, then it's problematic, unless we acquire and siphon that water constantly throughout the day, yielding more than just 32 oz.

Another interesting statement is that this unique and startling process might likely occur on other similar bodies in our solar system, like Mercury and asteroids. I am very interested in the asteroid idea, because at that distance, I would assume the water remains longer and could be more "thick" than on the Moon. Asteroids might provide us with something even more interesting than just their materials for mining and use. If asteroids in the belt harbor decent amounts of water, and generate it in the same manner as the Moon does, we might be able to locate serious base platforms on asteroids that are hydro-self-sustaining. All we'd have to ship would be a lot of chickens, cows and vegetables. :)

With all due seriousness, this is an amazing discovery, and hopefully will light a fire under certain important and influential people to press that we need to get humans on the Moon ASAP to conduct extensive research and analysis of this new discovery. Robots and probes are nice for finding things like this out, but boots on the ground will deliver the details in a much faster way, and the entire world would be watching. Given everything that's going on in the world right now, a nice global mission on the Moon would be a nice redirection of attention.

6 comments:

Marcel F. Williams said...

Carbonaceous asteroids contain about 5 to 20% water (0.5 to 2% hydrogen). Of course, they also contain carbon (can't grow food on the Moon without C02). The typical nitrogen component of asteroids is less than 0.1%.

http://www.tricitiesnet.com/donsastronomy/asteroidtable.html

Douglas Mallette said...

Marcel - CO2 we're good at making. :)

Marcel F. Williams said...

You never know! If launching heavy payloads into orbit ever gets substantially cheaper, coal (a fossil fuel likely to be totally banned for use on Earth in the near future) might end up being a major export to space stations and the Moon in order to supply them with a source of carbon and hydrogen.

Jerry M. Weikle said...

Probably a more feasible aspect considering cost is building a sizeable space ship that can travel to Venus and then collect atmospheric CO2 from Venus. Here the thinking upon nanotechnology comes into focus and the development of a space elevator. If an orbiting ship can utilize the vacuum pressures why not pump CO2 gas occassionally from orbiting Venus.
Carbon could be bound with other elements on the moon, this could come from further geochemical studies and then refining the process to include microwave application to break the chemical bonds and freeing the carboxyl group.

Sometime ago, I saw a presentation about desert elephants are found predominantly in the Kaokoland and Damaraland regions of north west Namibia. In this region, early morning fog would come inland from the oceans and collect on bushes that were growing. This allowed a small fraction of life to exist in the hot dry climate. Furthemore, moisture would collect on the tents of the filming crew. The secret to the moisure was the small capillary action of the fabric to "wick" moisture out of the atmosphere and thus to be collected.

Now utilizing this process on the Moon, conceptually, how could a nanotech fabric be utilized to collect incoming hydrogen ions from the solar wind and energetic plasmas?
What if a 'fabric' were designed that would actually bond with these energetic ions. Basically the nanotech fabric has long Carbon chains....C-C-C-C-C-C...in a graphite type matrix. Thusly, as the hydrogen ions are constantly bombarding the fabric, the chains become, hydroxylized;

H H H H HO H
/ / / / / /
C--C--C--C--C--C
\ \ \ \ \ \
H H H H H HO

Then chemical processing facilities can extract the gasous need and also the water is extracted from the biproducts. The aspect of using lunar resources becomes commonplace upon discovery of carbon and production of nanotechnology.

The hydroxyl molecules have changed the entire concepts known to Humanity in regards of looking at the Moon as a dry vast wasteland.

The Moon becomes the processing facilities for the resources needed by the 9 Billion humans on Earth!!!

Norman Copeland said...

Saggitarian brandy distilled on the moon with moon water?

New laws for drink driving spaceships?

Blood plasma tests of red and white blood cells for sugar disapation rates around planetoids resulting with differencial limitations on pilots and duristictions...


Who dares wins...


[Happy birthday Douglas]

Douglas Mallette said...

Thanks for the B-day wishes Norman.