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Moon Mining Gets a Closer Look 485

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the original-ideas dept.
happylucky writes "There are many obstacles to creating a space colony on the moon, primarily food, water, and oxygen. Since it is so expensive to bring supplies from the earth, some scientists have suggested that we mine the moon. In an article in the Toronto Star, Dale Boucher suggests the best way to do this would be to develop a mining colony. To that end, the Sudbury-based Northern Center for Advanced Technology has linked Canada's mining industry with some of the top minds on space.Mining the moon was considered earlier this month at the Planetary and Terrestrial Mining Sciences Symposium which attracted some 100 delegates, including experts from the Canadian Space Agency, NASA and the European Space Agency. There are other hurdles of course that need to be figured out. The moon's gravity is one sixth that on Earth. New research, however, may lead to a solution to this problem as well. It may be possible to develop a sticky compound that can be adjusted by UV light to help adhere boots and objects to the floor."
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Moon Mining Gets a Closer Look

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  • by Illbay (700081) on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:43PM (#15565972) Journal
    The ONLY way that we're going into space permanently is if we forget about government taking the lead, and focus on capitalism. The moment someone figures out how to make a buck out of this, The "Belters" of Larry Niven's future history will become a reality.
    • by maelstrom (638) on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:59PM (#15566048) Homepage Journal
      Screw that, I'm waiting for the Moon is a Harsh Mistress ;)
    • by Deliberate_Bastard (735608) <doslund.cs@ucr@edu> on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:12PM (#15566102)
      is if we forget about government taking the lead, and focus on capitalism.

      You miss the point. Anything which one can make a profit doing, will eventually be done without "us" (whoever that may be) needing to focus on it.

      If it's not getting done without government funding, it probably can't be done at a profit (yet).

      That's what governments are for; doing that which is worth the expense of doing, but does not directly yield a profit.
      • by thrillseeker (518224) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:26PM (#15566162)
        That's what governments are for; doing that which is worth the expense of doing, but does not directly yield a profit.

        With that attitude, governments become nothing more than a teat for the social program du jour. The role of government is to insure the secure the people against the tyranny of those who do not subscribe to the concept of liberty. The people are free to then do what they want - whether it be profitable or not.
      • Anything which one can make a profit doing, will eventually be done without "us" (whoever that may be) needing to focus on it.

        You're right, of course. Bad choice of words on my part.

        It's like back during the Clinton years, when he kept talking about "building a bridge to the 21st century," as if our failure to do so would mean we'd stay stuck on December 31, 2000 (yes, I said "2000." Do we have to go over that again?)

        I guess I should say "let's stop throwing taxpayer money at this, and get out of the way o

    • Rocket renaissance (Score:5, Interesting)

      by yfnET (834882) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:36PM (#15566192) Homepage
      Science & Technology / Private spaceflight [economist.com]

      Rocket renaissance
      May 11th 2006 | LOS ANGELES
      From The Economist print edition

      The era of private spaceflight is about to dawn

      IMAGE (Mary Evans) [economist.com]

      TWO years ago next month space travel underwent its Wright-brothers moment with the first flight of SpaceShipOne. The roles of Orville and Wilbur were played by Burt Rutan, who designed the craft, and Mike Melvill, who flew it—although they were ably assisted by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, who paid for it. Of course, history never repeats itself exactly. Unlike the brothers Wright, who were heirs to a series of heroic failures when it came to powered heavier-than-air flight, Messrs Rutan and Melvill knew that manned spaceflight was possible. What they showed was that it is not just a game for governments. Private individuals can play, too.

      Now, lots of people want to join in, and most of them have just met up at the International Space Development Conference in Los Angeles, to engage in that mixture of camaraderie and competition that characterises the beginnings of a new technology. And, as might be expected, they are brimming with two of the necessary ingredients of success: ideas and money.

      First, the money. So far, more than $1 billion is known to have been committed to building private spaceships and the infrastructure to support them. For example, Mr Rutan’s follow-up vehicle, SpaceShipTwo, is expected to cost its backers, Virgin Galactic, $240m for a fleet of five. The spaceport in New Mexico from which these are intended to fly will account for another $225m, although New Mexico’s government is planning to raise this money itself.

      These are not small sums, of course. On the other hand, Virgin Galactic has already banked $14m of deposits towards the $200,000 fare from people who want to travel on SpaceShipTwo, even though it has yet to be built, let alone flown.

      All this suggests that spaceflight, if not exactly entering the age of the common man, is at least entering the age of the moderately prosperous enthusiast. For entrepreneurs, it is no longer necessary to have billions of dollars to get into space; millions will now do. And for those who merely wish to travel there, and have a few hundred thousand in the bank, reality beckons—provided that at least one of the ideas actually works.

      Chocks away
      As with aircraft a century ago, a plethora of designs are competing with each other, and there is no certainty about which will prevail. The initial goal is to build a “suborbital” vehicle. This will not have to develop the tremendous speed needed to go into orbit around the Earth. Instead, it will travel briefly into space, offering a short thrilling ride out of the atmosphere, a few minutes of weightlessness, and a spectacular view of the planet from about 100km. Four important criteria are how you take off, what fuel you use, what your craft is made of, and how you come back.

      Most people’s vision of a rocket launch is straight up from the ground. But, of the five vehicles most likely to be developed (see table), two will actually be launched from the air. SpaceShipTwo will be carried to high altitude by a purpose-built aircraft known as Eve before its rocket motor is ignited. And Explorer, a vehicle being designed by Space Adventures, will be launched from the top of a high-altitude Russian research plane called the M-55X, according to Eric Anderson, the firm’s president and chief executive.

      As Dennis Jenkins, a consultant engineer at NASA, America’s space agency, points out, this is similar to using a two-stage rocket to get into space, with the aircraft acting as the first stage. However, a plane offers several advantages over a throw-away boos
    • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @01:39AM (#15566886) Journal
      The ONLY way that we're going into space permanently is if we forget about government taking the lead, and focus on capitalism.

      I agree to an extent, but it's interesting how much the average person overestimates the amount the federal government gives to NASA. From a recent article in the Space Review on the government and business case for space activities:

      http://thespacereview.com/article/644/1 [thespacereview.com]

      One question asked people to estimate what percentage of the overall federal budget went to NASA. At the Capitol Hill event Unland showed several video clips where, to few people's surprise, focus group participants overestimated--often grossly--NASA's sub-one-percent share of the budget: answers ranged from five to fifteen percent, with one person saying "somewhere in the thirties". Those anecdotes confirmed previous surveys where people also overestimated NASA's budget.
      • overestimates the amount the federal government gives to NASA

        Which is why it's such a shame that we don't give more - the people expect it! ;)

        In a more serious light, this whole capitalism thing is bullshit. Yes, it's one way to get where we're going, but I find it hard to believe that this far down the page, I'm the first to reference the race to the moon. That wasn't funded by capitalism... rather it was funded by a government actually interested in seeing man progress (and yes, the American man be

  • Canada? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:44PM (#15565980)
    They have a space agency?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:44PM (#15565981)
    ncluding experts from the Canadian Space Agency

    Since they built the CanadaArm and CanadaArm2, can we look foward to the CanadaShovel and CanadaShovel2.
  • MINER 2049'er (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:44PM (#15565983)
    Ultimately it will have to be some sort of economic incentive to push towards colonization. M.U.L.E. was a prophecy!
  • "It may be possible to develop a sticky compound that can be adjusted by UV light to help adhere boots and objects to the floor." If you fall over and can't hit the UV switch, and your mouth is stuck to the floor, will you suffocate?
    • by plover (150551) * on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:34PM (#15566185) Homepage Journal
      I didn't get the whole "sticky floor" suggestion. I would think less gravity would be a huge boon to getting more work done for the same effort. You sure as hell wouldn't want idler wheels dragging on sticky floors; think of the inefficiencies!

      If all they're looking to do is increase traction, there are much saner ways than pouring glue on their boots, (which would also cost you extra effort with every footstep.) Non-skid surfaces, for a start. I suppose they could bring a pot of glue with them and spread locally-mined crystalline silica if they wanted to save ferrying a pound or two of sand from earth.

      What would be better is to find ways to use the advantage of the reduced gravity without worrying about the traction. Depending on the problem, solutions like "cable cars" or "conveyor belts" don't have to rely on motor-to-ground friction at all.

      Finally, look back to the U.S. moon landings in the 1970s. Dust got everywhere. It was a huge problem. Do you honestly think "sticky" surfaces would last more than an hour before being rendered useless by the layer of dust?

      Sticky is a non-starter.

      • Re:Wait a second... (Score:5, Informative)

        by no-body (127863) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:13AM (#15566594)
        I would think less gravity would be a huge boon to getting more work done for the same effort.

        You loonies have no clue what gravity does to a human body on earth and what's going on if this becomes less!

        There is permanent challenge to the tonic muscle system to stay balanced and not fall over. If that challenge gets less, muscle- and bone structure atrophies i. e. disappears.
        The changes happen very fast. If you lay horizontally in bed for one week, you loose muscles and noticeably weaker. It builds up right away on earth, but not so if the gravity is missing or less.

        Astronauts in the space station have to excercise hard every day for 2 1/2 hours and still loose significant muscle- and bone mass in calves and lower back.
        Guess why they are carried around in stretchers once they come back? It's not the stress of the return flight. They lost too much substance to be able to sustain their structure in gravity.

        That's a major issue in space and obstacle for humans but never a popular topic.

        Sticky floor - pffff!

        • Re:Wait a second... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by fizzup (788545)
          I have always wondered if it would be feasible to simulate Earth's gravity with a kind of large merry-go-round. Put apartments at the end of rotating arms, on hinges, and then spin it fast enough to make the vector sum of the moon's gravity and the centrifugal force in your rotating frame equal to 9.81 N/kg. The hinges at the top of the apartments would make the apartment always line up with the "gravity". You could spend all your non-working hours in a human-friendly force field. I wonder if the large (co
        • Re:Wait a second... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by plover (150551) * on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:39AM (#15566692) Homepage Journal
          You loonies

          Nice f'ing ad hominem attack there. Did I say anywhere it was the humans having to put the energy into this work equation? Did you actually read the very next line where I mentioned idler wheels? (FYI, statistically very few people that are born with idler wheels are accepted into the astronaut program.)

          The only thing I wrote that said anything about human effort was the difficulty it would add to walking. Otherwise, I was referring mostly to machinery and energy, which, coincidentally enough, is the topic of TFA about mining. The "sticky" looks like it was simply a bad idea pasted on by the submitter of the article.

          Yes, the ISS denizens are denied the health benefits of gravity. Yes, the residents will have to work hard to maintain some semblance of muscle mass, and even then they're almost certain to be wheelchair bound upon their return to earth several years later. (A mars trip would end in a year-long zero-G voyage, just what they wouldn't need after their extended 1/3 G stay on the surface.) They may even end up in something like an iron lung for a while, if the air pressure isn't kept high enough to keep their diaphragm working against earth-weight air pressure. But frankly, I don't care all that much -- it's a known hazard, and anyone accepting these missions knows full well what they've got to look forward to upon their return. It's part of the sacrifice that every single one of them is volunteering to make. Sure, it'd be nice if they weren't severely weakened by the environment, but it's their choice. Not mine, and not yours.

          P.S. Maybe next time you'd get a less snotty reply if you didn't open your post with an accusation. A little politeness goes a long way.

        • by Firehed (942385)
          Surely this is only a problem if you actually return. You don't need much muscle in space, seeing that there's not a whole lot of heavy lifting going on, and I'd wager that we'd all look like those shiny muscle builders if we retained our human structure on Jupiter. Well, maybe not shiny, but we'd almost certainly build up the muscle. If the gravity of the moon is a sixth of Earth's, and you have no intent to come back, is it a problem if you lose 83% of your muscle mass?
  • Cheese... (Score:2, Funny)

    by creimer (824291)
    I can't wait until they start mining all that green cheese. The Food Network will never be the same again once that exotic item hits the market. Hmmm... cheese...
  • Jewels? (Score:3, Funny)

    by CyberDave (79582) <davecorder&yahoo,com> on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:51PM (#15566011)
    Anyone hear anything about mining Moon Saphires? We need them as a prize for the person who solves the global warming problem.
  • by sammyo (166904) on Monday June 19, 2006 @09:52PM (#15566014) Journal
    Put management offices in the tunnels.

    Anyone been watching the news recently? Congress is
    on the verge of outlawing mining just to avoid the
    bad press when a few minors endure the result of bad
    or under funded engineering.

    The solution? Put the bosses in the mines.
  • by Clazzy (958719) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:06PM (#15566075)
    some scientists have suggested that we mine the moon.
    the best way to do this would be to develop a mining colony

    It's nice to know the scientists put their degrees to good use.
  • Oh. My. Gods. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AriaStar (964558) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:07PM (#15566080) Journal
    It will be a frightening day when we start mining the moon. Rather than spreading out and destroying other planets/moons/celestial bodies, how about first learning, as a species, how to preserve the planet we are already on? Birth control, conservation, not driving those damned H3 SUVs with one person in it going to the grocery store. If we die out, well, we deserve it. It's extreme conceit to think we should to expand to other planets just because we haven't learned to take care of this one. If a child ruins a toy, Mom and Dad say that it's tought luck, shoudl have taken care of it. Where did that mindset go to take care of what we have?
    • Re:Oh. My. Gods. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mOdQuArK! (87332)
      Even if we were taking perfect care of the planet, it's in the best long-term interests of our species that we become a spacefaring race. We've got some pretty solid historical evidence that Earth has suffered occasional events which wiped out all dominant life forms on the planet. It doesn't make much sense to "keep all our eggs in one basket" so-to-speak if we have the ability to protect ourselves (and whatever other species we want to preserve).
    • Re:Oh. My. Gods. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:15PM (#15566113) Journal
      No problem, you can stay behind, I don't mind. My descendents will live among the stars and yours can have what's left down here.
    • Re:Oh. My. Gods. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thrillseeker (518224)
      It will be a frightening day when we start mining the moon. Rather than spreading out and destroying other planets/moons/celestial bodies, how about first learning, as a species, how to preserve the planet we are already on?

      Oh give me a fucking break.

      If we die out, well, we deserve it.

      Tell you what - you stay here and die out, since you believe that you deserve it. The rest of us will go figure out how to reach for the stars.
    • Re:Oh. My. Gods. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jerf (17166) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:23PM (#15566145) Journal
      Destroy what, exactly? The habitats of the incredibly cute native lunar fawns?

      What can we possibly do to the Moon to make it worse than it already is?

      Worst case scenario is "it doesn't look the same". Thinking that changing the appearance of things is some kind of crime is just arrogance, though; well obscured and wrapped in feel-good holiness, but it just boils down to I don't want it to change, so it shouldn't change.
    • "Rather than spreading out and destroying other planets/moons/celestial bodies, how about first learning, as a species, how to preserve the planet we are already on?"

      Give me a break.

      How about this instead: Rather than you traveling out and destroying other rooms/streets/cities, how about you first learning, as an individual, to preserve the room you're already in.
    • The day all our problems end is the same day we go extinct. And in any case, since when were unsolved problems a barrier to a parallel approach? Should kids live at home and not move out until they have settled every major and minor conflict they had with their parents over the course of their about 20 years? Maybe moving out can be the solution?

      Problem solving is really just a question of setting priorities. If someone solved global hunger and thirst, poverty, the fossil fuel dilemma, overpopulation, glob
    • Rather than spreading out and destroying other planets/moons/celestial bodies, how about first learning, as a species, how to preserve the planet we are already on?

      I'm not sure I follow your logic here. It's kind of like saying that people shouldn't leave their hometown until everybody in the town is living in peace and harmony with nature. Of course, now that I think about it, I have known people who would argue precisely that...
    • Re:Oh. My. Gods. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Lord Ender (156273) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:46AM (#15566712) Homepage
      "The Earth is the cradle of the mind, but one cannot eternally live in a cradle."
      - Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky

      The purpose of life is to spread.

      If you think we should stay on this rock until a meteor wipes us out, you are complicit in a crime worse than genocide: the extermination of life as we know it in the universe.

      As the only life forms with the ability to travel to other planets, it is our responsibility to bring life to other planets! This is far more important than trying to maintain some "balance" of nature. There never has been and never will be such a balance, anyway.

      Space travel is the most important persuit in the history of Earth. Without it, there will eventually be no life.
    • Oh for God's sake. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by StarKruzr (74642)
      I am the last person to disagree with (sane) environmentalists on just about anything, but this is absurd.

      A) There is no biosphere on the Moon to disturb, silly.
      B) Suppose that to learn how to take care of the Earth properly, we first need to explore and understand how processes on other planets work? Suppose that a source of virtually unlimited offplanet resources (like the Moon and asteroid belt) would give us the "buffer" we need to learn how to exist in a state of environmental peace with this planet?
  • Uh, it might just be me, but when is this going to be energy efficient? Last time I checked, the moon had a quite significant gravity well. Not as deep as Earth's, but still we're speaking tons of minerals to be transported...
    • Go read the moon is a harsh mistress. You just make a catapult to put it in orbit. No friction, and abundant solar power makes an em catapult work. Of course it could also be a weapon of mass destruction. Heck the materials could make quite a nice network of solar cells on the moon.

      Of course heavier metals are not going to be found. It's not part of the moon's crust. The big thing would be if we could find nice ice supplies, as we need it for bio and it's an easy fuel and easy to mine. You get a few hundred
  • by Timbotronic (717458) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:14PM (#15566111)
    ...we need to get a working biosphere on Earth. The last one [wikipedia.org] ran dangerously low on O2 and that problem needs to be understood, fixed and thoroughly tested before we even think about setting up a colony on the moon.

    In some ways it'd be a good test to have a biosphere at the bottom of the ocean. You'd have the same combination of a harsh external environment and pressure differential (albeit reversed) as you would in space. You could be entirely reliant on a local source of power such as a deep sea thermal vent but emergency assistance would be much easier
    • by topham (32406) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:43PM (#15566214) Homepage
      Hmm.

      I thought i was understood. The O2 went into the concrete which continues to set for a very long period of time.

      • actually the O2 went into the ground for respiration of allt he microbes decomposing the organic matter in the soil. What was strange is that there was no rise in CO2 to match the drop in O2. Turns out the CO2 was absorbed into the concrete makeing something like calcium carbonate.

        I guess thats close to what you said...
    • by roshi (53475) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:23PM (#15566376)
      This is a very valid point, and well taken. However, the criteria for a lunar mining colony are different. There is no need for a completely sealed, self-sustaining ecosystem. Assuming we can solve the problem of getting O2 et al out of lunar soil, then there's no problem with tweaking the gas levels as needed. One hopes that there will at least be *some* sort of bio-cycle handling much of the C02/O2 turnover, as well as providing food and helping with waste management... but there's no reason you can't add more O2 at some point as needed.

      Now, when you start to talk about permanent and more distant settlement colonies (ie Mars) then you really want to close the cycle further. Besides, regardless of space exploration, we should continue to try to understand ecosystems by constructing artificial ones. What better way to learn about complex interactions (which we're affecting in poorly understood ways) then with simplified models? So Biosphere++ in any case....
  • One word - Praxis. (Ref. Undiscovered Country)
  • by slobber (685169) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:43PM (#15566218)
    Just think of the recent weight gain trends... By the time everything else is ready for the moon colony, I have a feeling that moon would become the only place where one half of our population would feel comfortable. I can already imagine "lose 5/6th of your weight in 3 hours!" commercials.

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Monday June 19, 2006 @10:54PM (#15566257) Journal
    Coincidentally, just a few minutes ago I submitted a slashdot story about a telerobotic construction challenge which NASA is funding, which could spawn technologies which would be quite useful for a lunar mining facility. In case the submission gets rejected, here's the text of it (hopefully my posting it here doesn't somehow lead to an auto-rejection):

    The non-profit Spaceward Foundation has released [msn.com] a rules draft for a telerobotic construction competition. Competitors will have 24 hours to use their robots to construct a water-tight pipeline at least 25m long through Mars-like terrain, with a control latency of 20 minutes. The foundation is seeking feedback on the rules draft [spaceward.org] until July 15, as well as ideas for contest names and logos. NASA will provide $250K in prize money to competition winners, as part of their Centennial Challenges [wikipedia.org] program for space technology competitions.
  • Lunar mining would also create a demand for the vastly abundant solar energy at the Lunar surface (1.3KW:m^2). Scaling that production for Earth consumption would also produce a demand for the technologies developed for corporate welfare^W^WStar Wars (SDI) to deliver high energy to Earth's surface. Without having to grow the military applications. While reducing the energy shortage that makes military options so attractive to some Earthlings.
    • to deliver high energy to Earth's surface
      It's called manufactured goods - Tesla gave up on broadcast power a century ago after he worked out that it was impractical due to increasing losses over distance. Since we still haven't solved that same problem you can still file broadcast power with the magnetic blankets that Ben Franklin debunked even before the revolution.
  • I really don't understand the use of a lunar colony. I'm all for Mars and the asteroids, but the Moon? What's there that's useful? I can see it as a test bed for life support for other missions, but it's not very close to Mars and I don't think we want to do the asteroids quite yet. It's also a heck of a lot less hospitable than Mars, and takes more delta-V to get to (assuming in situ propellant manufacturing on Mars, which is really darn hard on the moon). As far as I can tell, the only useful things
    • 1. It's easier than building a true space station. It has gravity, and resources we can build upon while doing many functions of a space station, (observing, solar wind, etc)

      2. Helium-3, fusion catalyst that's only found on earth as a by product of nuclear reactions and is about 50,000 a pound. That alone makes it worth it moneywise.

      3. Possible water ice in craters, let alone if caves of some sort exist with regolith protecting ice in other locations.

      4. Abundant Solar that doesn't have the atmosphere blocki
      • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:16AM (#15566609) Journal
        2. Helium-3, fusion catalyst that's only found on earth as a by product of nuclear reactions and is about 50,000 a pound. That alone makes it worth it moneywise.

        In his book "Moonrush," [amazon.com] Dennis Wingo argues that besides Helium-3, platinum-group metals would also be a critical resource. From a review [thespacereview.com]:

        In the first part of Moonrush, Wingo makes the case for how lunar resources are critical for meeting the increasing energy demands of terrestrial civilization. Most people are aware of the fact that the quantity of fossil fuels, notably petroleum, is finite, and will run out sooner or later. Wingo discusses this in detail in the book, noting that even the most optimistic assessments of petroleum reserves--ones that make assumptions unlikely to be borne out in practice--would be insufficient to get the world through the 21st century. One alternative to gasoline-burning engines currently under active development is the hydrogen-powered fuel cell. Even these, though, have a resources problem that Wingo describes in the book: they rely on expensive, scarce platinum-group metals (PGMs). If the world tries to make the transition from gasoline engines to fuel cells, it could exhaust the supply of PGM elements on the Earth.

        Of course, there is no shortage of such metals in space, particularly in asteroids. The Moon, on the other hand, would seem to be an unlikely place to find PGMs: the collisional process that formed from the Moon left it mostly devoid of heavy metals. However, Wingo makes an ingenious case for finding PGMs on or near the lunar surface, in the form of debris from asteroid impacts. While conventional wisdom has argued that impacts of large asteroids would vaporize most of the impactor, modern computer modeling has shown that a significant fraction of an asteroid impacting the Earth would survive in some form. In fact, some major sources of PGMs on Earth, such as Sudbury in Canada and sites in South Africa, have been linked to asteroid impacts. The Moon's lower gravity would mean slower impacts, making it more likely that significant portions of asteroids could survive. PGMs mined from those impacts could meet the fuel-cell needs of the Earth for centuries; the mining process would, in turn, also generate other metals like iron and nickel that could be used for settlements on the Moon and beyond.
    • I really don't understand the use of an American colony. I'm all for Asia, Africa and the Indies, but America? What's there that's useful? I can see it as a shorter route to the Indies, but it's not very close to Europe and I don't think we want to do Africa quite yet. It's also a heck of a lot less hospitable than Asia, and takes more time to get to (assuming in situ ship building in Gibraltar). As far as I can tell, the only useful things in America is tobacco, safe haven for religous zealots, lots of sun
  • Seeing the reference to an "optically switched glue" for the boots, reminds me of Daedalus, a column which used to appear at the back of New Scientist (and elsewhere). The author and his ficticious company, DREADCO, came up with a large number of semi-plausible inventions, including a certain "Dreadhesive" which was a liquid crystal glue, useful for catching burglars in the same manner as fly paper. This adhesive was electrically switched, and the police could free the unfortunate captive by turning on or
  • by popo (107611) on Monday June 19, 2006 @11:17PM (#15566357) Homepage

    Your weight on the moon is approximately 1/6th of your weight on earth.
    So a 200 lb man weighs roughly 33 lbs on the moon.

    So while it may seem necessary to use a sticky material to adhere one's boots
    to the floor -- its probably easier to carry 1000 lbs (Earthweight) of weights
    which would add an additional 166 lbs of Moonweight, making a 200lb earth person
    weigh 200 lbs on the moon.

    The sticky stuff isn't requred. Just some evenly distributed body weights would
    do the trick. Although... no defense contractor gets rich with the simple
    solution.

    • Well, there's that and the fact that 1000 pounds of weight means that you'll have to exert yourself that much more to accelerate the mass of your body (inertia depends on mass, not weight). Not to mention, 1000 pounds of weight even made out of something dense like lead will be really bulky.

      But yeah, it's probably the defense contractors.
    • by Suidae (162977) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @10:00AM (#15568777)
      So while it may seem necessary to use a sticky material to adhere one's boots
      to the floor -- its probably easier to carry 1000 lbs (Earthweight) of weights
      which would add an additional 166 lbs of Moonweight, making a 200lb earth person
      weigh 200 lbs on the moon.


      Alternatively, residents of the moon could just get used to it and learn to use their bodies effectively in light gravity without requiring a constant supply of sticky boots.
  • by eclectro (227083) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:00AM (#15566538)

    Why don't they use the stuff movie theatres have?

  • And start a total national race among other nations to try and get their and stake their claims. Then, claim Mars, and repeat. You'll never get to space if no one can own it.
  • Moon Colonization (Score:3, Informative)

    by kahrytan (913147) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @12:09AM (#15566583)
    No Entity will ever own the moon -- government or corporation. Some may think it's open season. It's not.

    The establishment of military bases, installations and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military man uvres on the moon shall be forbidden. The use of military personnel for scientific research or for any other peaceful purposes shall not be prohibited. The use of any equipment or facility necessary for peaceful exploration and use of the moon shall also not be prohibited



    1. The exploration and use of the moon shall be the province of all mankind and shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development. Due regard shall be paid to the interests of present and future generations as well as to the need to promote higher standards of living and conditions of economic and social progress and development in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

    2. States Parties shall be guided by the principle of co-operation and mutual assistance in all their activities concerning the exploration and use of the moon. International co-operation in pursuance of this Agreement should be as wide as possible and may take place on a multilateral basis, on a bilateral basis or through international intergovernmental organizations.


    You can read the full United Nations General Assembly Resolution at United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) [unoosa.org]
  • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday June 20, 2006 @07:36AM (#15567889) Homepage Journal
    Last I heard most of the moon was mainly made up of silica. It's not like earth where there are vast deposits of a wide variety of reasonably pure materials. There is oxygen trapped there, (silica oxide iirc?) but it's difficult to extract. We are certainly not getting food or water from the moon.

    I once read a quote from a nasa engineer, saying something about a pile of dog droppings found on the moon would be the richest source of carbon for miles around. Us being carbon-based life, require carbon in pretty much all our food. There is very little hydrogen on the moon, and that nicely rules out the production of water.

    For now I think the astronauts had better pack a lunch.

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