Paul Spudis' plan for a sustainable and affordable lunar base

Oct 21, 2011 By Nancy Atkinson, Universe Today
Artist concept of a settlement on the Moon. Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings

It’s long been a dream to have a human settlement on the Moon, but in this age of budget cuts and indecisive plans for NASA’s future, a Moon base may seem too costly and beyond our reach. However, noted lunar scientist Dr. Paul Spudis from the Lunar and Planetary Institute and a colleague, Tony Lavoie from the Marshall Space Flight Center, have come up with a plan for building a lunar settlement that is not only affordable but sustainable. It creates a Moon base along with a type of ‘transcontinental railroad’ in space which opens up cislunar space – the area between Earth and the Moon – for development.

“The ultimate goal in space is to be able to go anywhere, anytime with as much capability as we need,” Spudis told Universe Today. “This plan uses a robotic and human presence on the to use the local resources to create a new spacefaring system. The key for doing this is to adopt a flexible approach that is incremental and cumulative.”


In a nutshell what Spudis proposes is to send robots to the Moon which are tele-operated from Earth to start extracting water from the polar deposits to create propellant. The propellant would be used to fuel a reusable space transportation system between the Earth and the Moon.

“The reason this is possible is because the Moon is close – it’s only three light-seconds round trip for radio signal get from Earth to the Moon back,” Spudis said, “which means you can control machines remotely with operators on the Earth actually doing the activities that an astronaut might do on the Moon.”

A lunar mining facility harvests oxygen from the resource-rich volcanic soil of the eastern Mare Serenitatis.Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings.

The advantage here is that a large part of the needed infrastructure, such as the mining operation, the processing plants, the development of storage for the water and propellant, is created before people even arrive.

“So what we try to do is to develop an architecture that enables us to, first, do this in small, incremental steps, with each step building upon the next, and the net effect is cumulative over time,”Spudis said. “And finally we are able to bring people to the Moon when we’re ready to actually have them live there. We place an outpost — a habitat — that will be fully operational before the first humans arrive.”

The significant amount of water than has been found on the Moon at the poles makes this plan work.

“We estimate there are many tens of billions of tons of water at both poles,” Spudis said. “What we don’t know in detail is exactly how much water is distributed what physical state it is in, and that’s one of the reasons why the first step in our plan is to send robotic prospectors up there to map the deposits and see how they vary.”

Water is an important resource for humans in space: it supports life for drinking and cooking, it can be broken down into oxygen for breathing, and by combing the oxygen and hydrogen in a fuel cell, electricity can be generated. Water is also a very good shielding material that could protect people from cosmic radiation, so the habitat could be “jacketed” with water.

But the most important use of water is being able to create a powerful chemical rocket propellant by using the oxygen and hydrogen and freezing them into a liquid.

“The Moon offers us this water not only to support human life there, but also to make rocket propellant to allow us to refuel our spacecraft both on the Moon and space above the Moon.”

In a series of 17 incremental missions, a human base would be built, made operational and occupied. It starts with setting up communication and navigation satellites around the Moon to enable precision operation for the robotic systems.

Next would sending rover to the Moon, perhaps a variant of the MER rovers that are currently exploring Mars, to prospect the best places for water at the lunar poles. The poles also provide areas of permanent sunlight to generate electrical power.

Next, larger equipment would be sent to experiment with digging up the ice deposits, melting the ice and storing the products.

“Now, all those are simple conceptually, but we’ve never done them in practice,” said Spudis, “so we don’t know how difficult it is. But by sending the small robotic missions to the Moon and practicing this via remote control from Earth, we can evaluate how difficult it is — where the chokepoints are — and what are the most efficient ways to get to these deposits and to extract usable a product from them.”

The next step is to increase the magnitude of the effort by landing bigger robotic machines that can actually start making product on industrial scales so that a depot of supplies can be stockpiled on the Moon for when the first human humans to return to the Moon.

Cislunar space. Graphic courtesy Paul Spudis.

In the meantime, a constant transportation system between Earth and Moon would be created, with another system that goes between the Moon and lunar orbit, which opens up all kinds of possibilities.

“The analogy I like to make is this is very similar to the Transcontinental Railroad,” Spudis said. “We didn’t just build the Transcontinental Railroad to from the East Coast directly to the West Coast; we also built it to access all the points in between, which consequently were developed economically as well.”

By having a system where the vehicles are refueled from the resources extracted on the Moon, a system is created that routinely accesses the Moon and allows for returning to Earth, but all the other points in between can be accessed as well.

“We create a transportation system that accesses all those points between Earth and Moon. The significance of that is, much of our satellite assets reside there,” said Spudis, “ for example communication satellites and weather monitoring satellites reside in geosynchronous orbit, (about 36,000 km above the Earth’s equator) and right now we cannot reach that from low Earth orbit. If we have system that can routinely go back and forth to the Moon, we could also go to these high orbits where a lot of commercial and national security assets are.”

Spudis added that a fuel depot could go in various locations, including the L1 LaGrange point which would enable space flight beyond the Moon.

How long will this take?

“We estimate that we can create an entire turn-key lunar outpost on the Moon within about 15 to 16 years, with humans arriving about 10 years after the initial robotic missions go,” Spudis said. “The mining operation would produce about 150 tons of water per year and roughly 100 tons of propellant.

And do any new technologies or hardware have to be built?

“Not really,” said Spudis. “Effectively this plan is possible to achieve right now with existing technology. We don’t have any ‘unobtainium’ or any special magical machine that has to be built. It is all very simple outgrowths of existing equipment, and many cases you can use the heritage equipment from previous missions.”

And what about the cost?

Spudis estimates that the entire system could be established for an aggregate cost of less than $88 billion, which would be about $5 billion a year, with peak funding of $6.65 billion starting in Year 11. This total cost includes development of a Shuttle-derived 70 mT launch vehicle, two versions of a Crew Exploration Vehicles (LEO and translunar), a reusable lander, cislunar propellant depots and all robotic surface assets, as well as all of the operational costs of mission support for this architecture.

“The best part is that because we have broken our architecture into small chunks, each mission is largely self-contained and once it gets to the Moon it interacts and works with the pieces that are already there,” Spudis said.

And the budget would be flexible.

“We can do this project at whatever speed the resources permit,” Spudis said. “So if you have a very constrained budget with very low levels of expenditure, you can go you just go much more slowly. If you have more resources available you can increase the speed and increase the rate of asset emplacement on the Moon and do more in a shorter period of time. This architecture gets us back to the Moon and creates real capability. But the free variable is schedule, not money.”

Artist concept of a Moon base. Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings.

Returning to the Moon is important, Spudis believes, because not only can we use the resources there, but it teaches us how to be a spacefaring civilization.

“By going to the Moon we can learn how to extract what we need in space from what we find in space,” he said. “Fundamentally that is a skill that any spacefaring civilization has to master. If you can learn to do that, you’ve got a skill that will allow you to go to Mars and beyond.”

Explore further: Obama salutes 45th anniversary of US astronauts' Moon landing

More information: For more information see Spudis’ website, SpudisLunarResources.com. More details and graphs can be found on this pdf document.

Listen to an interview of Paul Spudis on this topic for the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast.

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Cave_Man
4.2 / 5 (11) Oct 21, 2011
I await the day when I can take an all inclusive training session and be granted a permit to live on the moon, I would love to work in a water shielded greenhouse where I help to grow crops for other Moonites to eat.
Jeddy_Mctedder
1.4 / 5 (22) Oct 21, 2011
wow. terrible idea. water on the moon is precious and needs to be conserved for uses that cannot substitute h2o. EVERYONE knows the moon has plenty of solar energy and deutrium. solar lazers and/ or fission/fusion are the 2 sources of abundant energy EVEryWHEre on the moon. and this guy says use the water for fuel. this guy is a nut job.
the water is for uses requiring water and accepting no substitutes. perhaps drinking it?
James_Oberg
4.4 / 5 (14) Oct 21, 2011
Jeddy, it's been my experience to NEVER assume I know more about ANYTHING than Paul Spudis knows, and to only disagree with his views when I'm really REALLY sure I have my facts and analysis reliable. Starting off with an insult, as you did, while misspelling so many basic terms, is suicidal for your credibility. The water isn't 'fuel', it's an energy storage medium for applications that need rapid, high levels of energy delivery -- such as ascent/descent propulsion -- or highly mobile energy sources -- such as feul cells in rovers. The electricity to make the cryogenic O2/H2 out of native water [which can then be converted BACK into water to release the energy] still comes from the sources you think are totally adequate for all applications [but they are not, for reasons I've just mentioned]. Remember Will Rogers's warning: It ain't what you don't know what makes you look foolish, it's what you DO know what ain't so. You're this week's poster child for that wisdom.
Temple
3.3 / 5 (7) Oct 21, 2011
@Jeddy_Mctedder: "the water is for uses requiring water and accepting no substitutes. perhaps drinking it?"

You do realize that we are already very, very adept at recycling the water involved in the human food/drink/waste cycle right? One thing we don't need when going into space is huge tanks of drinking water.
pauljpease
5 / 5 (5) Oct 21, 2011
I like this idea, I think it is a great vision for humanity. We really need a solar-system scale project to keep us all employed, occupy our time and keep us from fighting about our differences. I would add one more piece to this puzzle. The raw material available on the moon is pretty minimal. Plus, there is no product they will be able to sell to people on Earth to keep the operation funded. It will be under constant threat of budget hacks seeking political gain. They need something to sell. They should include in their proposal plans to capture an asteroid (the average asteroid has about $100 trillion worth of metal in it, the last I read). This could be mined on the moon and shipped to Earth using the propellant and transportation system envisioned here. It would eventually pay for itself, and be good for Earth's environment because mining is hard on the biosphere. Oh, asteroids also have a lot of water, and it would be easier to collect than the diffuse deposits on the moon.
FrankHerbert
1.8 / 5 (65) Oct 21, 2011
The cost of the Iraq war divided by $88 billion equals how many lunar bases?
GDM
5 / 5 (2) Oct 21, 2011
paulipease: The moon has enormous resources. Think about it: it has been bombarded for billions of years by asteroids. Just look for a crater, any crater. Most of the resources should not be sent down to Earth although there will probably be some that at are more easily produced on the moon that might generate a profit. Just supplying water to the ISS would be profitable at today's costs: $10,000 a pound vs ?? from the moon. I'm with you, CaveMan and Spudis on this one. Sign me up!
Noumenon
4.2 / 5 (59) Oct 21, 2011
The cost of the Iraq war divided by $88 billion equals how many lunar bases?


Drop in the bucket compared with big government inefficient and fiscal waste.
pauljpease
4 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2011
paulipease: The moon has enormous resources. Think about it: it has been bombarded for billions of years by asteroids. Just look for a crater, any crater. Most of the resources should not be sent down to Earth although there will probably be some that at are more easily produced on the moon that might generate a profit. Just supplying water to the ISS would be profitable at today's costs: $10,000 a pound vs ?? from the moon. I'm with you, CaveMan and Spudis on this one. Sign me up!


Perhaps, but I'm guessing those asteroid impacts were high velocity. The more scattered the debris, the harder to collect. And everything is very difficult and expensive when working in an environment like the surface of the moon. I think putting an asteroid into orbit around the moon, or gently crashing it, would make mining a lot more efficient (asteroids are something like 60% metal already). Too bad the space station will probably be long gone before any moon base is running.
Nerdyguy
4.1 / 5 (13) Oct 21, 2011
We should give Spudis credit for his bold plan. When will the rest of our society wake up and realize that the real frontier is just begging to be explored? As an American (and a cynic), I'm unfortunately resigned to watching the Chinese, Indians, Japanese, Europeans and Russians plow forward with the development of these great ideas while we sit on our hands and worry about saving enough cash to make sure we get every last terrorist.
PinkElephant
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 21, 2011
I actually support Jeddy's view. Water IS precious on the Moon. If we're going to have sustained (and growing) settlements there, we will need all the water we can get just for drinking, washing, and hydroponics. Most importantly, hydroponics. And if we're really ambitious, for actually creating complex (underground, artificially-illuminated and -heated) ecosystems. Water is absolutely precious on the Moon, and to deliver it there from Earth would be enormously expensive. So, to dig it up, convert it into fuel, and then just dissipate the exhaust into space on INDUSTRIAL SCALES, would be short-sighted and self-defeating in the long term.

As for this (and similar):
we sit on our hands and worry about saving enough cash to make sure we get every last terrorist
Who said we have any cash at all? We've been deficit-spending by the $Trillions. What cash, where? We're completely bankrupt, and on the verge of economic collapse as a nation. All we have, is exploding debt.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (8) Oct 21, 2011
Water is absolutely precious on the Moon
Research first then post.

" In March 2010 NASA reported Mini-SAR radar aboard the Chandrayaan-1 detected what appear to be ice deposits at the lunar north pole, at least 600 million tonnes in sheets of relatively pure ice at least a couple meters thick."
http://en.wikiped...ar_water

-The moon is wet. Water for all kinds of uses. Spudis knows this and it's abundance and potential for recoverability is part of his well-conceived proposal.
Who said we have any cash at all?
You've got to spend money to make money. But US fortunes lie farther out, in the mars moons and the asteroid belt.
thewhitebear
4.1 / 5 (7) Oct 21, 2011
we don't need money to do this, we just need to want to do it. we have the physical resources necessary so if we chose to prioritize mining the moon then we would be up there in a few years, sifting lunar dust for gold nuggets. Given China's need for raw materials I wouldn't be surprised if they are already years ahead of us on this one. Any relevant treaties for moon real estate? As much as I like to believe that we could choose a path of moderation and restraint ultimately I think we'll squeeze every drop of oil and every pound of metal out of our rock and every other rock we can blast our greedy little robots to. Earth first, we'll mine other planets later. Of course the aliens that reside on the dark side of the moon might resist our colonizing missions.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (9) Oct 21, 2011
It will be easier and more profitable to exploit resources available in microgravity, as in the asteroid belt or the Martian moons, rather than dragging them up out of a gravity well. Of course it does depend upon what is available and where.

It will be easier to establish a self-sustaining colony on mars than it would be on the moon.

The moon is a nasty place. Lunar regolith is like volcanic ash - gritty and abrasive. It will be a challenge to build machinery and habitats to work in the midst of it. Scotchgard everything I guess.
PinkElephant
not rated yet Oct 21, 2011
at least 600 million tonnes...
And you think that's somehow a lot? Let's say we envision a future total Lunar population of 100 million humans (which would be roughly a mere 1% of Earth's population.) This amounts to 6 tons per person (a ton of water equals to 1 cubic meter by volume.) That ain't much, even without considering all the inevitable, eventual losses through outgassing from habitats. How much vegetation is needed to feed 1 person, generate his oxygen requirements, and process his wastes, on a sustained basis? How many gallons (tons) of water might this take, hmmm?

And that's just considering biological needs. If you're going to have any indigenous industry (which you MUST have to sustainably support a permanent and growing colony), water will be critical as a solvent, coolant, lubricant, reagent, and cleaning agent, among other uses.

On the Moon, water is worth its weight in Platinum. And Spudis is going to shoot it into deep space out of rocket nozzles?!
Nerdyguy
2.5 / 5 (8) Oct 21, 2011
"Who said we have any cash at all? We've been deficit-spending by the $Trillions. What cash, where? We're completely bankrupt, and on the verge of economic collapse as a nation. All we have, is exploding debt."
- PinkElephant

We have the cash. Plenty of it. It's sometimes easy to forget with all the rhetoric, as well as the general economic malaise, but the U.S. is STILL the world's largest economy. Our spending, and our ridiculous priorities - those are the PROBLEMS.

Establishing bases on the Moon and Mars, on our way to ultimately mining the asteroids - those are SOLUTIONS.
GDM
5 / 5 (6) Oct 21, 2011
I think some are missing the point. Once you set up lunar bases, the rest of the solar system opens up, and there is a nearly infinite amount of water out there. Yes, lunar dust is nasty, but it can be managed, and yes there is the minor gravity well, but trying to mine an asteroid with microgravity is much harder. Learn to operate on the moon first. Also, the point about seizing the "high ground" (see
"Russia eyes caves...") applies first to the moon, then to the outer objects/planets. If you bypass the moon and let someone else take it, you will get cut off. I say we go now.
PinkElephant
1 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2011
We have the cash. Plenty of it.
Nope, and nope. Our debts by far exceed our assets, and for the last 30 years have consistently grown at a faster pace than GDP. The "cash" we claim to have is a rather quickly dissipating lie.
the U.S. is STILL the world's largest economy
On paper. In practice, it's 70% "consumer spending" and guess what -- consumers are up to their eyeballs in debt. And the housing pyramid scheme has stopped gushing borrowed "wealth". We're done, we're cooked, it's just that people like you haven't figured it out yet. Trust me, you will. Within this decade, the sheer abject horror of it will no longer be deniable or maskable via fiscal games and political lies. Some of the OWS contingent has figured it out already; perhaps and hopefully it won't take nearly as much as 10 years for the rest of you to wake up (because with a couple more years of inaction, the only remaining path forward will amount to full-on sociopolitical collapse.)
kaasinees
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 21, 2011
moonbase alpha anyone?
Jeddy_Mctedder
1 / 5 (3) Oct 21, 2011
\
Water is absolutely precious on the Moon
Research first then post.

" In March 2010 NASA reported Mini-SAR radar aboard the Chandrayaan-1 detected what appear to be ice deposits at the lunar north pole, at least 600 million tonnes in sheets of relatively pure ice at least a couple meters thick."

OH MY GOD, seriously. i've been following the last few years of moon water exploration ( most of it remote ) . moon water is first off NOT liquid it is ice and must be heated. 2nd....it is mostly contaminated with who knows what other substances and will cost a lot of energy to purify it. 3rd...it's only at the poles ( which might not be a great place for bases for NUMEROUS REASONS. moon water is INDEED precious if you think about the cost and difficulty of mining and processing it, given what we know about where it might exist in large concentrated utlizeable quantities.

telling me moon water is not precious and that we should use energy trucking it from earth is ...lunacacy.
Feldagast
2 / 5 (4) Oct 21, 2011
space 1999
Parsec
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2011
The cost of the Iraq war divided by $88 billion equals how many lunar bases?

A coupla dozen I think. We could probably build a lunar metropolis for that much money.
Gigel01
5 / 5 (2) Oct 22, 2011
Colonising the Moon is full of advantages. Economically, it is hard to get there, but it is very easy to get material from there back to Earth, so the endeavour will pay off and the profit will be huge.
ShotmanMaslo
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2011
I never got the obsession with manned Mars missions. For the same cost and time, you can leave a flag on Mars, or have a little permanently manned city on the Moon. Aiming for Moon was one thing that Constellation got right.

This plan is excellent.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (6) Oct 22, 2011
On the Moon, water is worth its weight in Platinum. And Spudis is going to shoot it into deep space out of rocket nozzles?!
That was only what one probe detected at one pole. There is water all over the moon. There is no reason to think that the moon didnt receive as much water as the esrth or mars did, both initially and from impacts. More has been lost but much remains. It is worth it's weight in petroleum.
ShotmanMaslo
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 22, 2011
An alternative to lunar LOX/LH2 rockets are oxygen-aluminium rockets.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 22, 2011
Colonising the Moon is full of advantages. Economically, it is hard to get there, but it is very easy to get material from there back to Earth, so the endeavour will pay off and the profit will be huge.
It is relatively expensive to lift materials out of the lunar gravity well. Mass drivers may be the best way to do this in bulk but it will be easier to eventually exploit what we find in the asteroid belt.

Distance does not necessarily mean more cost in space, only more time. Moving processed materials or even entire asteroids toward the sun will be cheap.
The Singularity
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 22, 2011
Surely linear motors would be a cheap & efficient way of launching capsules/transport vehicles back to earth. Getting one up there would be the hardest part.
Nerdyguy
3 / 5 (6) Oct 22, 2011
RE: the PinkElephant economy.

Nothing is ever as bad as it seems. Yes, we have made poor economic decisions as a nation. Yes, our people and treasure have been tragically wasted for a very long time. I don't disagree with you on the magnitude of the calamity.

I do believe, however, that like other economic cycles, this one will go back up again. So, our economic situation will once again improve. We'll probably never be at the peak of world economic power that we displayed at one time, but so what? Life goes on.

If we celebrate ideas like the one displayed by Spudis, we can help move our nation and, indeed, the entire planet towards a more prosperous future.
GDM
4.2 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2011
Otto: actually, in addition to the Indian probe, the LRO confirmed the presence of water at both poles, in hugh quantities, in the permantently shadowed craters where the temperatures measured were the lowest ever observed (c. 4 degrees kelvin).
Delta-V to get on or off the moon from lunar orbit is about 2,200 meters per second squared. From Earth to lunar orbit or L5 takes 12,700 m/s^2. From L5 to the Martian moons is pretty low, but takes a long time.
Linear motors (mass drivers) are an excellent way to move stuff from the moon to L5 or lunar orbit.
The best way to economically develop the moon is as Spudis has indicated, is robotically, teleoperated from Earth until safe structures are ready for humans. Once you have a simple mining/refining/assembly facility set up (robotically) you do not need to ship anything else to the moon. New parts can be made on-site using 3D printing (replication) technology that exists today. Just "beam up" the specifications and build.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (3) Oct 22, 2011
wow. terrible idea. water on the moon is precious and needs to be conserved for uses that cannot substitute h2o.


There evidence of 600 million tonnes of water ice in the lunar cold traps at the north pole. Water as well as other volatiles are thought to be abundant there.

EVERYONE knows the moon has plenty of solar energy and deutrium.


News to me. I've heard of lunar He3, but not lots of deutrium.

solar lazers and/ or fission/fusion are the 2 sources of abundant energy EVEryWHEre on the moon.


Artificial fusion still isn't a practical source of power.

this guy is a nut job.


You are an idiot.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2011
at least 600 million tonnes...
And you think that's somehow a lot? Let's say we envision a future total Lunar population of 100 million humans


Please take a moment to read Spudis' proposal. He's not suggesting the moon as the new home of mankind.

He is suggesting using lunar propellant to aid transportation. Transportation around our earth moon neighborhood as well as to deep space destinations like asteroids or Mars.

We can't plonk 100 million people on top of the Golden Spike at Promontory Summit, Utah. But that doesn't mean the transcontinental railroad is a stupid idea.

It would take centuries of heavy use to deplete 600 million tonnes. Long before then we would have access to water sources other than lunar ice.

GDM
5 / 5 (3) Oct 22, 2011
By the way, you can download Paul's complete technical paper in pdf format at http://www.spudis.../102.pdf
KBK
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 22, 2011
There is a reason that space exploration stopped cold in the 60's, as projections and potentials go.
CEO of Lockheed Martin's "Skunkworks", Ben Rich, quoted, just before he died of Cancer. At that point he had nothing to loose, so he opened up. Maybe this is what killed him, is these quotes. When you read one of his quotes you will understand:

"We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects and it would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity.. anything you can imagine we already know how to do."

This is a truth. This is not a fabrication. Ben said this on video, not just at some podium and people wrote it down. There is VIDEO out there of him saying this.

You've been lied to ---for a very long time.

A few Key words for your research, to introduce you to clarity --where quantum mechanics went ...while you were sleeping : Nazi Bell, Joseph Farrell, Gabriel Kron, Nikolai Kozyrev, Walter Gerlach.
PinkElephant
2.5 / 5 (2) Oct 23, 2011
He's not suggesting the moon as the new home of mankind.
Neither am I. A hypothetical 1% of total human population being on the Moon doesn't make it a "new home of mankind". It just makes it the first heavily colonized planetoid, a fantastic resource depot, and a solid launchpad for further colonization efforts across the solar system. It is also the first significant step that somewhat improves humanity's odds of surviving cosmic catastrophes in the long term.
He is suggesting using lunar propellant to aid transportation.
He's suggesting wasting an absolutely PRECIOUS and limited resource for short-term gain at the cost of long-term pain.
It would take centuries of heavy use to deplete 600 million tonnes.
What seems like "heavy use" today, has a way of becoming quaint within a few decades.
Long before then we would have access to water sources other than lunar ice.
And they'd be somehow cheaper and more available than lunar ice? What would they be?
Robert_Wells
5 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2011
It will be easier to establish a self-sustaining colony on mars than it would be on the moon.


but what if AMEE(Autonomous Mapping Exploration and Evasion) goes crazy and tries to kill the Val Kilmer again? if he was on the moon a rescue operation could be possible if the unexpected happens. with a base on Mars, they're on their own. baby steps is how this is going to play out. its been 42ishh years and the farthest man has been is the moon, and in the last 39ish years the farthest man has been is orbit...one thing @ a time i suppose. i'm assuming people will want to test habitability on a closer celestial body before they travel 6 months out to setup shop.
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2011
Water on the moon is not exactly precious, but it is extremely valuable as a means for sustaining life, and as a means to reach out further in space for yet more water, which is widely abundant. Literally oceans of the stuff on enceladeus, europa, comets, and other bodies.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2011
It will be easier and more profitable to exploit resources available in microgravity,


We have zero experience mining in microgravity vs millennia of experience mining with gravity.

... rather than dragging them up out of a gravity well.


It would take more delta V to rendezvous with main belt asteroids than land on the moon. Some NEOs take less delta V, but launch windows can be years or decades apart. Trip times can be half a year.

Lunar regolith


hasn't been jostled by wind and rain to round off sharp edges. Same is true of NEO dust, also likely to be very abrasive.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (3) Oct 23, 2011
A hypothetical 1% of total human population


Not going to happen on the moon, Mars or any where else unless there's return on investment to sustain colonization efforts.

And transportation costs preclude enjoying a return on investment. Your human settlement fantasies are a non-starter. They die at the starting gun.

Spudis is proposing a way to reduce transportation expense. A prerequisite for humans going to the moon, NEOs, or Mars.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2011
He's suggesting wasting an absolutely PRECIOUS and limited resource
Im guessing you live in Arizona? Was Dune your favorite movie perhaps?
We have zero experience mining in microgravity vs millennia of experience mining with gravity.
And zer0 with either in space. I am guessing that the machinery to extract and process stuff in microgravity will be far lighter and simpler simply because it doesn't have to contend with moving stuff with weight; only mass.

Either will require whole new tech to work. I imagine dozens of complete nuclear-powered borer-processors could be sent to a suitable asteroid to begin chopping it up and hurtling raw material earthward or wherever, without having to soft-land components, assemble them in vacuum and grit, and then launch the stuff with another complex set of machinery.

The idea of printing components sounds ok but much mining and processing machinery requires heat-tempered, high strength alloys and exacting tolerances. And lubrication.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2011
And I am also guessing that this is why the US has chosen to bypass the moon and take the more ambitious route, of becoming familiar with getting to the Martian moons and the asteroid belt. I think they are doing this because of the enormous potential it offers, and because it needs to be done, and because currently only the US has the resources and experience to do it.

And so they must do it first because it will be done either way, and whoever does it will have an enormous economic and strategic advantage over the ground-pounders further in.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Oct 23, 2011
"We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects and it would take an act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity.. anything you can imagine we already know how to do."

There is no God. Ergo, no chance that this will happen. So, why bother writing about it?

Lied to or not, we must deal with what IS available. Spudis' proposal, for example.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 23, 2011
It would take more delta V to rendezvous with main belt asteroids than land on the moon. Some NEOs take less delta V, but launch windows can be years or decades apart. Trip times can be half a year.
Again it would depend on what route you take and how quickly you want to get there. Martian moons are more accessible than asteroid belt objects, and mars can be used for delta V and aerobraking. It offers gravity assist for travel to the belt and above the orbital plane. There are also many rocks flying all over the place which might offer unique and valuable materials.

I bet we'll soon see thousands of mass-produced probes traveling all over the system to determine exactly what is out there waiting to be exploited.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 23, 2011
I am wondering if some bright scientist or engineer can figure out how to tether a craft to a rock at high velocity? Lasso it in effect. Harpoon the sucker and let it drag you to a stop. So to speak. Would this be much harder than designing a space elevator? An elastic tether a few thousand miles long?
Urgelt
5 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2011
I'm happy to agree that robotics and remotely-operated equipment is the way to go. There's no point for humans to be there until they can live there. We should do the same thing for Mars - though there, we'll have to lean on robots, not remote operations.

The cost estimate sounds wildly optimistic to my ears, though. My guess - it's only a guess, I admit, nothing rigorous about it - is that a ten billion dollar budget per year for twenty years is the minimum that would be needed, and I wouldn't be surprised to encounter significant cost overruns on top of that figure. For one thing, we have no experience moving heavy equipment to the Moon, and no experience building heavy equipment with resources we might find there.

Still, this is the general approach we need to create the infrastructure that will make space accessible at a bearable cost. I think it's an option worth pursuing.
Decimatus
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 24, 2011
Why the rush? The moon will still be there in 100 years. So will humanity.

I am all for big dreams, but we need to focus on rebuilding our economy from the ground up to handle the current problems on earth, let alone the problems of space colonization using sub-standard technologies.

The better our technology gets, the easier space colonization will be.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2011
"Why the rush? The moon will still be there in 100 years. So will humanity." - Decimatus

Simple, really. And, this part has nothing to do with science or technology. It's about competition, land rights, and power. The moon (let alone Mars) may not be vitally important in the long-run. However, the first nation to get there, establish a permanent outpost and lay claim to the land will be the de facto governor of the Moon for potentially a very long time. Russian knows this. So does China. Both are actively trying to get there and exploit it. Even if it doesn't have an immediate economic return.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (8) Oct 24, 2011
Simple, really. And, this part has nothing to do with science or technology. It's about competition, land rights, and power. The moon (let alone Mars) may not be vitally important in the long-run. However, the first nation to get there, establish a permanent outpost and lay claim to the land will be the de facto governor of the Moon for potentially a very long time.
And how do you propose they protect these property rights? The moon is a big place, like the Americas. Many people arrived here and operated independently for a long time.

But the moon is dirty, heavy, brutal. No point going there in any big way unless it's for the He3 or some other rare commodity that's not available on the martian moons or the belt.

The moon is the Antarctica of the inner system. No strategic value.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2011
"The moon is the Antarctica of the inner system. No strategic value." - TheGhostofOtto1923

Possibly. However, history, as well as very recent events, points towards the potential for conflict. First, governments have a very long history of staking claim to some nasty pieces of ground solely because of positioning. The strategic value lies in the potential future use of the claim to coerce, persuade, bully, build moats around their kingdoms, etc. (e.g., China/Tibet/Mongolia/USSR).

Second, there's been a huge push in the last few years by (guess who?) Russia and China, among others, to assert rights to both Arctic and Antarctic lands of seemingly little economic value.

Some very bright people have speculated in science fiction that the first permanent colony outside Earth would carry some pretty significant political clout far into the future, providing an assist in claims to other bodies in the solar system.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2011
Again it would depend on what route you take and how quickly you want to get there.


Have you heard of Hohmann transfer orbits? If you substantially deviate from these, you pay a big delta V penalty.

Martian moons are more accessible ... and mars can be used for delta V and aerobraking.


Hohmann launch windows to Phobos and Deimos occur each Earth Mars synodic period: about 2.14 years. Trip time average about 8.5 months.

Have you heard of the "Space Superhighways"? EML1 and EML2 are potential hubs for these low delta V routes. And the moon is about 2.5 km/s from these regions without aerobraking.

Using aerobraking, Phobos is about 2.5 km/s from EML1 and Phobos is about 3 km/s.

For these hubs, the moon is the marginal delta V winner and the clear winner in terms of trip time and launch window frequency.

3 second light lag makes the moon more amenable to telerobotics. Phobos light lag is 10 to 40 minutes. Moon's proximity allows big bandwidth.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 24, 2011
I am wondering if some bright scientist or engineer can figure out how to tether a craft to a rock at high velocity?


Google "Moravec tether equation".
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2011
Decimatus: Your argument "to focus on rebuilding our economy from the ground up to handle the current problems on earth, let alone the problems of space colonization using sub-standard technologies" has been used since the beginning of the space age and begs the question "if not now, when?" It also forgets that all money spent on space-related projects are spent here on Earth. Without space, we would not have developed personal computers, the internet (which is the best thing since the oracle of delphi, and so many other things that have improved humankind. One big reason we are in the hole we are in, is because we spent all our money on war instead of space.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (7) Oct 24, 2011
Hohmann launch windows to Phobos and Deimos occur each Earth Mars synodic period: about 2.14 years. Trip time average about 8.5 months.
And if you're sending autonomous robots then trip time is relatively inconsequential. Ditto for materials hurtled back toward the sun. Telerobotics will be less an advantage as robotics tech improves. It will be unnecessary on the moon as well.

African vine rubber was a hot commodity in the 1800s until Brits could produce it in their colonies using tree seeds from brazil. There may be materials mined on the moon until such time as autonomous asteroid mining becomes more profitable.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (4) Oct 24, 2011
And if you're sending autonomous robots then trip time is relatively inconsequential.


Absolutely false.

Even if we had autonomous mining robots (sci fi), the delivery rate of a commodity is still an important part of a business plan.

Lets say we have comparable transportation fleets for bringing propellant back from the moon or an NEO. Ten 70 tonne tankers. Given tankers making ten day round trips, lunar tankers could deliver 70 tonnes a day. But given NEO tankers constrained to launch windows each ten years, delivery rate is 70 tonnes a year.
Nerdyguy
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2011
Hop, I have to agree with your analysis. The timetables will be enormous. But mankind has undertaken this kind of adventure before for relatively large expected payoffs.

Take the gamble of settling the "New World" for example. European monarchs knew the return on investment was more properly measured across generations. I'm also optimistic that we'll continue to discover faster modes of transportation.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 24, 2011
Ten 70 tonne tankers. Given tankers making ten day round trips, lunar tankers could deliver 70 tonnes a day. But given NEO tankers constrained to launch windows each ten years, delivery rate is 70 tonnes a year.
Well I suppose transfer would be somewhat different. Instead of your steady stream of 70 ton tankers, perhaps the robots will be busy processing and accumulating material for shipment during the window. Say at 70 kilotons per load. The phrase 'when my ship comes in' reflects investment in the return of commodities from the orient to Europe on a similar schedule. When/if the ship made it back, the investor could expect to make lots of money.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 24, 2011
This transfer wouldn't need to be in one great piece. Perhaps large solid blocks could be carved out and boosters attached. When ready this fleet of a few hundred objects would set sail for home. Wherever that might be. Multiple destinations?

Your moon mines might have to operate similarly. Deposits of whatever you want to mine might be small and scattered. A mine might operate from one location for a few years and then need to relocate. Like oil wells.
HopDavid
4.5 / 5 (2) Oct 25, 2011
When ready this fleet of a few hundred objects...


A fleet of hundreds isn't plausible near term. A fleet of 10 is.

Trip time to the moon: 4 days. Launch windows occur every day. From a given low earth orbit, each two weeks.

Trip time to an NEO: varies. Often around 6 months. Launch windows can be years or even decades apart.

So given constraints of limited budget and reasonable sized fleet, rate of commodity delivery isn't comparable.

This also works against set up of infrastructure. IIRC, Spudis suggests 26 missions the first 20 years. 26 missions to an NEO could easily take 50 to 100 years.

The longer ROI takes, the less attractive to an investor with a finite lifespan. A project taking many decades or even centuries is more vulnerable to budget cuts from elected officials. 50 years is almost 12 election cycles.
HopDavid
4.7 / 5 (3) Oct 25, 2011
Hop, I have to agree with your analysis. The timetables will be enormous. But mankind has undertaken this kind of adventure before for relatively large expected payoffs.

Take the gamble of settling the "New World" for example. European monarchs knew the return on investment was more properly measured across generations. I'm also optimistic that we'll continue to discover faster modes of transportation.


The potential is there. Orbital and lunar infrastructure could enable this potential.

Lunar supplied propellant and life support consumables at EML1 would be a huge game changer. Round trip between EML1 and a NEO can be as low as 2 km/s (vs ~7 km/s LEO to NEO and back). Given EML1's 2.4 km/s advantage over LEO, faster transfers to NEOs become plausible for chemical rockets.

EML1 would also be a good dock for ion engines. A platform that close to C3 would eliminate the slow spiral from LEO to escape.
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 25, 2011
A fleet of hundreds isn't plausible near term. A fleet of 10 is.
I think you may have misunderstood? By fleet I meant large chunks of ice or minerals with boosters and/or sails attached. Assembling or carving these chunks is possible in microgravity.

Semi-processed or raw materials could be sent inward on slow trajectories to facilities for further processing. This should ultimately be cheaper because it would be done without the burden of gravity. These facilities could process lunar materials as well.
Cont==>
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 25, 2011
Another reason we may see aggressive development of resources farther out is strategic.

"How much oil does Bakken [ND] have? The official estimate of the U.S. Geological Survey a few years ago was between four and five billion barrels. Mr. Hamm disagrees: "No way. We estimate that the entire field, fully developed, in Bakken is 24 billion barrels."

"If he's right, that'll double America's proven oil reserves. "Bakken is almost twice as big as the oil reserve in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska..."

"One reason for the renaissance has been OPEC's erosion of market power. "For nearly 50 years in this country nobody looked for oil here and drilling was in steady decline. Every time the domestic industry picked itself up, the Saudis would open the taps and drown us with cheap oil," he recalls. "They had unlimited production capacity, and company after company would go bust.""
Cont==>
TheGhostofOtto1923
2.1 / 5 (7) Oct 25, 2011
-it is becoming apparent that there is oil all over; vast reserves off the Mexican and US east coasts, above the arctic circle, etc. 

The west bought Mideast oil and did not look for it elsewhere because it was vitally important to strengthen allies in that region, and also to consume that oil so that it could not be used to fuel independent economies at some future date.

The belt and the mars moons may be exploited because of a strategic need to be in these areas. This is how economies work.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 25, 2011
A fleet of hundreds isn't plausible near term. A fleet of 10 is.
I think you may have misunderstood? By fleet I meant large chunks of ice or minerals with boosters and/or sails attached. Assembling or carving these chunks is possible in microgravity.


Large chunks of ice would need to be enclosed, else it would sublimate away on the long trip back. Large body of ice in an enclosure with boosters, I'd call that a tanker.

If you're using very low thrust solar sails, trip times could be years or decades rather than 6 months as they'd be with chemical rockets. How massive are the payloads you envision? What is the mass and surface area of the solar sails?

Gradual accelerations are okay for long solar transfer orbits. But once within earth's sphere of influence, you'll need more thrust to park your payload in earth orbit. Do you hope to shed delta V with aerobraking? The abuse of aerobraking would destroy fragile solar sails.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 25, 2011
The belt and the mars moons may be exploited because of a strategic need to be in these areas. This is how economies work.


Economies don't work by selling to a nonexistent market. Before you sell stuff to Martians you have to have Martians there first. The process of establishing Mars settlements would take many decades of investment with no ROI. You're proposing a self licking ice cream cone.

We already have extensive assets in earth orbit. Selling propellant to entities using earth orbits is more plausible than establishing new markets in Mars or the main belt.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 25, 2011
By fleet I meant large chunks of ice


What ice? I can point to anomalous craters at the moon's north pole that are very likely to contain massive sheets of ice. Can you point to an NEO with ore bodies as well characterized? If you're aware of a known body of NEO ice, please point to it.

Do not point to comets or bodies past the snow line. These are not accessible with plausible delta V.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 25, 2011
Perhaps, but I'm guessing those asteroid impacts were high velocity.


Impact velocity is sqrt(Vesc^2 plus Vinf^2). Since the moon's escape velocity is around 2.3 km/s, impacts can be as low as 2.3 km/s. Is this slow enough to leave an intact metallic asteroid in a crater basin?

To be honest, I don't know.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 25, 2011
Can you point to an NEO with ore bodies as well characterized? If you're aware of a known body of NEO ice, please point to it.
What do mean by NEO? No need if commodities can be shipped from farther out cheaply.

24 Themis is NEO.

"Astronomers have for the first time detected ice and organic compounds on an asteroid, a pair of landmark studies released on Wednesday says."

"In other words, 24 Themis -- some 200 kilometers (125 miles) in diameter -- almost certainly contains far more water locked in its minerals than anyone suspected."
http://news.disco...ics.html
Large chunks of ice would need to be enclosed, else it would sublimate away on the long trip back. Large body of ice in an enclosure with boosters, I'd call that a tanker.
You might also think about icebergs towed to tropical areas for the water. I envision shrinkwrap crawlers. :)
cont==>
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 25, 2011
What I was saying originally is that the US, according to obama, has decided to forego a return to the moon and instead undertake manned missions to the mars moons and asteroids.

The US is still the country with the greatest potential for exploration and development of the solar system. They have chosen an ambitious route the reasons for which are not immediately apparent.

I am suggesting some reasons for this, one of them being security-related. Inner system settlements and commercial ventures will be vulnerable from attack with large rocks from the belt and from the mars moons.

Commercialization of the resources there may be an excuse for an enduring presence. Economics can be tailored to favor this, as they certainly have been in the past. Economics supports civilization, not the other way around.

No economic ventures or the tech development necessary to enable them will be allowed to blossom if they critically endanger the Stability and Health of civilization.
cont==>
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 25, 2011
We can cite numerous overt examples throughout history, and some not so obvious, like the artificial dependence on saudi oil; or even the sequestration on knowledge of the americas and the navigation tech necessary to get there, until such time as euro military skills could be developed to the point where the dangerous cultures there could be quickly and cleanly destroyed.

One can only imagine what meso-american cultures would have done with gunpowder, metallurgy, and shipbuilding skills had they been able to trade gold and drugs for them with independent euro traders.

At any rate I think we can expect the inner system to be developed in similar fashion. Short-term goals might not make sense economically but this does not mean they dont have a deeper and more significant Purpose which may not be initially apparent.

NASA has never turned a profit and has consistantly exceeded budgets. It was always pushing the envelope. This is what we expect from military R&D. Ala Cecil Rhodes.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 25, 2011
24 Themis is NEO.


Using Hohmann transfer, Trans Themis Injection from LEO is 5.2 km/s. Rendezvous at Themis is 5.1 km/s for a total of more than 10 km/s. From LEO to the moon is about 6 km/s.

In terms of delta V, Themis is much worse than the moon.

Hohmann launch windows occur each 1.22 years. Trip time is 1.48 years.

Light lag is 35 to 70 minutes.

Themis is not one of the low hanging fruit. A long term goal but not something for the near term.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 25, 2011
What I was saying originally is that the US, according to obama, has decided to forego a return to the moon and instead undertake manned missions to the mars moons and asteroids.


Obama rightly saw Constellation as very expensive and unproductive. He right believes STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) education is important for our nation's future. He recognizes NASA inspires kids. So he has tossed out some nebulous goals that hopefully won't break the bank but still keep NASA going.

So far as I can tell, Obama's long range plans to mine asteroids are pure conjecture on your part. If you have any evidence the Obama administration hopes to eventually mine asteroids, please provide a pointer.

TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 25, 2011
Using Hohmann transfer, Trans Themis Injection from LEO is 5.2 km/s. Rendezvous at Themis is 5.1 km/s for a total of more than 10 km/s. From LEO to the moon is about 6 km/s.
Does that include down to the surface and back up again?
Themis is not one of the low hanging fruit. A long term goal but not something for the near term.
Maybe not but I used it as an example of the apparent abundance of water on NEOs, in answer to your query. These objects are full of volatiles including quite possibly hydrocarbons.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 25, 2011
Obama rightly saw Constellation as very expensive and unproductive...He recognizes NASA inspires kids.
So did John f Kennedy.
So he has tossed out some nebulous goals that hopefully won't break the bank but still keep NASA going.
And it would be unproductive to set some nebulous goal and begin working toward it, which we are, for no good reason.

So tell me
1) Do you really see no existential threat from the possibility of malevolent forces reaching the belt and the mars moons first?

2) Don't you think that the resources at these locations will eventually be exploited, that they may contain materials not available on the moon, and that it may prove competitive in the long run to exploit the more common materials here because they can be moved and processed in microgravity?

3) What would be the telerobotic potential between a Martian settlement and its moons, or with asteroids placed in orbit there?
HopDavid
5 / 5 (3) Oct 25, 2011
Does that include down to the surface and back up again?


Low Earth Orbit to soft landing on the moon: 6 km/s
Low Earth Orbit to soft landing on Themis: 10 km/s

Maybe not but I used it as an example of the apparent abundance of water on NEOs, in answer to your query.


Themis is not a Near Earth Object. Venus and Mars come closer to earth than Themis ever will. Or Mercury. Or the sun. Do you call the sun a Near Earth Object?

For the numerous reasons I've given, Themis is *much* more difficult to reach than the moon.

Given existing technologies and plausible budgets, the moon is doable. Themis is not.
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (4) Oct 26, 2011
And it would be unproductive to set some nebulous goal and begin working toward it, which we are, for no good reason.


The reason is prestige of doing Mars and asteroid missions first. We have already been to the Moon.

I highly doubt there is any long-term strategic or economic aim.

When we build first off-world colony, (not just flag and footsteps mission), it is very likely that it will be located on the Moon. You cannot beat the delta-v and accessability of this location, it is the cheapest and simplest option, and a logical choice.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 26, 2011
Themis is not a Near Earth Object. Venus and Mars come closer to earth than Themis ever will. Or Mercury. Or the sun. Do you call the sun a Near Earth Object?
No, I was calling themis an asteroid. Many NEOs are asteroids. The article says we should expect to find water on asteroids, which would include those nearby and exploitable. Macht Sinn?

"But we now have more reason to think that the asteroid impacts may also have brought a significant amount, especially if each one might have 20 to 30 percent water," he said in an email exchange.

"Much more water could have come in from asteroids than we thought."
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.6 / 5 (7) Oct 26, 2011
I highly doubt there is any long-term strategic or economic aim.
You should read more scifi:

"Footfall (1985), novel by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. Elephant-like aliens launch an asteroid which lands in the Indian Ocean, causing a huge tsunami which almost completely wipes out life in India and causes enormous damage to all countries which have shores on that ocean."

-one of my favorites. The threat is very real.

http://scitechsto...version/
http://www.popsci...se-earth
http://en.wikiped..._fiction
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 26, 2011
But reality will do just fine:

"Carl Sagan, in his book Pale Blue Dot, expressed concerns about deflection technology: that any method capable of deflecting impactors away from Earth could also be abused to divert non-threatening bodies toward the planet...he judged the Earth at greater risk from a man-made impact than a natural one."

"In their 1964 book, Islands in Space, Dandridge M. Cole and Donald W. Cox noted the dangers of planetoid impacts, both those occurring naturally and those that might be brought about with hostile intent."
http://en.wikiped...voidance
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2011
No, I was calling themis an asteroid. Many NEOs are asteroids. The article says we should expect to find water on asteroids, which would include those nearby and exploitable. Macht Sinn?


Which utterly fails to meet my challenge: "Can you point to an NEO with ore bodies as well characterized?"

Very accessible NEOs get 10 times the insolation of 24 Themis.

24 Themis is198 km, 2.3e19 kg. Largest NEO is 1036 Ganymede, about one thousandth that size. Smaller size means greater surface to mass ratio which makes volatiles more vulnerable to sublimation.

"But we now have more reason to think that the asteroid impacts may also have brought a significant amount, especially if each one might have 20 to 30 percent water,"


Today's population of NEOs is different than the Late Heavy Bombardment population billions of years ago. Rendezvous with a water rich asteroid coming in from colder regions will take a more delta V.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 26, 2011
Which utterly fails to meet my challenge: "Can you point to an NEO with ore bodies as well characterized?"
NEOs are not well explored as of yet, which you may or may not know.

The article addresses this. I suggest you read it more s l o w l y.

"Only if that layer of frost were continually replenished by the slow release of water vapor released from ice in the asteroid's interior, the researchers reasoned."

"But we now have more reason to think that the asteroid impacts may also have brought a significant amount, especially if each one might have 20 to 30 percent water," he said in an email exchange."

-As we explore NEOs more thoroughly we can expect to find a great deal of water inside them, according to the article.

As to when more definitive info may be available, maybe you could ask the authors?
http://web.jhu.ed...-10.html
http://www.ifa.ha.../~hsieh/
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 26, 2011
Oh I see you seemed to have taken exception to my reference to scifi as a source of ideas? Many scifi authors are scientists themselves including Benford, greg bear, asimov, and sagan.
http://www.sigmaf...bers.php

Many valuable concepts originate in fiction. Arthur c clarke is credited with conceiving the communications satellite.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2011
NEOs are not well explored as of yet,


Exactly. There may or may not be deposits out there. As yet, they're unknown.

But we know exactly where the anomalous lunar craters are.

The article addresses this.


Um... No

Water rich asteroids are likely to be recent arrivals from the Main Belt or futher out. With aphelions of 3 or more A.U., rendezvous would take high delta V.

Accessible asteroids are near circular with about 1 A.U. semi major axis. These would have far more insolation. If you don't know what "insolation" is, Google is your friend.

NEOs also tend to be small, meaning high surface to mass ratio. This plus high insolation makes ice sublimate.

Short period comets tend not be accessible NEOs.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 26, 2011
But we know exactly where the anomalous lunar craters are.
By anomalous you mean with water ice in them? We know little about so-called lunar ice, where it can be found, what it might be covered with, or how to mine and refine it.

"On November 13, 2009 NASA reported that after analysis of the data obtained from the ejecta plume, the spectral signature of water had been confirmed. However, what was actually detected was the chemical group hydroxyl, which is suspected to be from water, but could also be hydrates, which are inorganic salts containing chemically-bound water molecules. The nature, concentration and distribution of this material requires further analysis; chief mission scientist Anthony Colaprete has stated that the ejecta appears to include a range of fine-grained particulates of near pure crystalline water-ice. A later definitive analysis found the concentration of water to be "5.6 ± 2.9% by mass"."
==>
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 26, 2011
"The Mini-RF instrument on LRO observed the LCROSS landing site and did not detect any evidence of large slabs of water ice, so the water is most likely present as small pieces of ice mixed in with the lunar regolith."
http://en.wikiped...ar_water

Regolith is nasty stuff. It will chew up machinery, erode seals, and stick to everything.

So it seems we know in reality about as much about lunar water and how to extract it as we do about asteroid water. We found some evidence of water on the moon; we found similar evidence on an asteroid. We do know that mining and refining it on an asteroid should be easier because it will weigh a lot less.

Could low gravity present problems? The pic above shows a nice shallow lunar pit. The reality may be that ice is under 100 ft of grit. This would require heavy machinery to move. On an asteroid perhaps you could use the equivalent of a snow blower to blast this overburden into space. What is the escape v of themis? Apophis? Phobos?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 26, 2011
Water rich asteroids are likely to be recent arrivals from the Main Belt or futher out. With aphelions of 3 or more A.U., rendezvous would take high delta V.
Is this just speculation on your part or do you have a source perhaps?

Also could you provide some calcs of depth cover needed to protect NEO ice from 'insolation'?
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2011
By anomalous you mean with water ice in them? We know little about so-called lunar ice, where it can be found, what it might be covered with, or how to mine and refine it.


I'm talking about the craters that returned elevated CPR to Chandrayaan-1's mini-SAR radar.

This radar seems to indicate sheets of relatively pure ice at least two meters thick.

http://www.nasa.g...its.html
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2011
Regolith is nasty stuff. It will chew up machinery, erode seals, and stick to everything.


And asteroids are covered with it.

So it seems we know in reality about as much about lunar water and how to extract it as we do about asteroid water.


No, we have data from multiple sources. Chandrayaan's M3 mapper. The LCROSS ejecta as you mentioned. And the most dramatic discovery is the at least two meter thick ice sheets detected by Chandrayaan-1's mini SAR radar:
http://www.nasa.g...its.html

When I ask you for known NEO ice bodies, you point to Themis!
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 26, 2011
Is this just speculation on your part or do you have a source perhaps?


Extinct comets that still have volatile ices inside are likely to Halley Type Comets (HTCs) or Jupiter Family Comets (JFCs)
http://www.boulde...ids3.pdf

Jupiter family comets have aphelions of around 5 A.U. At 1 AU from the sun, it'd be moving about 39 km/s at perihelion, vs earth's 30 km/s

JFC's typically spend most their time in the outer orbit and only a brief, quick dash near the sun. After about a 10 or 20 cm depth of an insulating mantle, temperature is average temperature throughout the orbit, which tends to be cold for those bodies with a high aphelion. (If the comet is able to accumulate an insulating mantle).

If aphelion as well as perihelion is well within 5 A.U., average temperature is much higher, increasing sublimation pressure.

See Brin, G. D., and Mendis, D. A. (1979) Dust release and mantle development in comets. Astrophys. J. 229, 402-408. & other papers by Brin
ShotmanMaslo
2.6 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
We do know that mining and refining it on an asteroid should be easier because it will weigh a lot less.


No, we dont. We know how to mine and refine in gravity, we have yet to try mining in weightlessness. I dont see why weight should pose a problem.

Gravity also helps channel materials where needed.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
No, we dont. We know how to mine and refine in gravity, we have yet to try mining in weightlessness. I dont see why weight should pose a problem.
And as I pointed out SM we don't know how to do either in space. Both tech will need to start from scratch.

Asteroids do have gravity. Mining them is a challenge for scientists and engineers. But I bet with much less weight to everything, the process of uncovering, extracting, refining, and shipping will ultimately be easier. It will present the possibility of entirely new ways of recovering material by removing the weight of stuff from the equation. I would love to be working on this.

I have great faith in engineers who will come up with novel and unexpected ways of exploiting this.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
When I ask you for known NEO ice bodies, you point to Themis!
And as I explained it represents the class of objects we WILL be exploiting, sooner or later. The US recognizes this. That's why we are going to expend our efforts figuring out how to get to them.
I'm talking about the craters that returned elevated CPR to Chandrayaan-1's mini-SAR radar.


"M3 detected absorption features near 2.8-3.0 µm on the surface of the Moon. For silicate bodies, such features are typically attributed to hydroxyl- and/or water-bearing materials."

Hydroxyl or water-bearing? And if water-bearing, how hard to extract?

Ice was discovered directly on the surface of themis. How does this evidence compare?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Oct 27, 2011
"Fresh craters show high degrees of surface roughness (high CPR) both inside and outside the crater rim, caused by sharp rocks and block fields that are distributed over the entire crater area. However, Mini-SAR has found craters near the north pole that have high CPR inside, but not outside their rims. This relation suggests that the high CPR is not caused by roughness, but by some material that is restricted within the interiors of these craters. We interpret this relation as consistent with water ice present in these craters. The ice must be relatively pure and at least a couple of meters thick to give this signature."

-They have inferred it's existence from this and other evidence. I tend to agree with them. The high CPR may also very rough terrain - sharp rocks and block fields. How easy will it be to get to this ice, uncover it, and process it? No one yet knows.

One thing is certain; these blocks and rocks weigh much more on the moon than they would on Themis.
==>
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Oct 27, 2011
All other things considered, it will take more energy to extract and refine material on the moon than on an asteroid. Power in either location could come from nuke plants or from solar. But as lunar craters are in shadow, solar arrays would need to be on the far side of the rim, and would only be in sunlight for part of each lunar rotation. So this would be no advantage over a belt object.
And asteroids are covered with it.
You bet. While we are busy blazing a trail to objects farther out, our oriental and euro siblings will be learning how to deal with it on the moon.

The nuclear deterrent was developed by many nations in concert. The US built the bomb, the canadiens supplied the uranium, the Brits supplied brainpower, and the Germans tested the delivery systems in the only way possible - under actual combat systems and against a real enemy. What - you think they wasted all that effort to kill only 5000 people with 5000 V1 and V2 rockets?
==>

TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Oct 27, 2011
This was the same reason that the bomb needed to be used during war. This is the only way to know if you can depend upon a weapons system when you need it most.

The so-called enemies were working together to produce the very conditions which existed after the world wars. They produced a stable world where unprecedented development of extremely dangerous tech could take place in relative safety.

There is no reason not to expect this sort of Cooperation in the exploitation of space. While other Players are squabbling over commodities on the moon, the US is busy exploring the potentials for danger and profit farther out.

Because if this is not done as soon as it is possible to do so, then there is a risk that someone else will do so and use it against you. Like the bomb.

We learn most and progress farthest in an atmosphere of competition. But in order for this competition to remain creative it must be Controlled and Directed. As it most obviously is.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
Just one example of the power and necessity of competition: do you learn more by squabbling here than you do just by reading on your own?

This is the dialectic; thesis, antithesis, synthesis. If it ever gets that far.
Nerdyguy
2 / 5 (4) Oct 27, 2011
Just one example of the power and necessity of competition: do you learn more by squabbling here than you do just by reading on your own? This is called the dialectic; thesis, antithesis, synthesis. If it ever gets that far.


Very well said.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (2) Oct 27, 2011
When I ask you for known NEO ice bodies, you point to Themis!
And as I explained it represents the class of objects we WILL be exploiting, sooner or later


Since delta V, trip times, and frequency of launch windows are all irrelevant, why just point to Themis? Pluto and the Kuiper Belt objects in the outer solar system have *lots* of water.

If delta V and trip time matters, you're stuck with NEOs with earthlike orbits. Which get *ten* times the sunlight of Themis and have 1000s times the surface to mass ratio Themis has.

I have asked you for known ore bodies on an *NEO*. Got it? Not a distant body past the snow line, but something accessible in the near term. So far you have utterly failed to meet that challenge.

HopDavid
5 / 5 (2) Oct 27, 2011
I'm talking about the craters that returned elevated CPR to Chandrayaan-1's mini-SAR radar.


"M3


Data from M3 and the mini-SAR radar are two separate discoveries. Sadly, you're not the only one who conflates them.

M3 detected hydroxyl ions in lower latitudes, much more than expected, but not enough to practically exploit.

The mini-SAR radar received an elevated CPR signature indicative or thick ice sheets or possibly rough terrain. But the signature corresponds to shaded areas while nearby sunlit areas are smooth. The abundance of volatiles found by M3 and LCROSS indicate large amounts of ice *could* accumulate in the 40 degree K cold traps. The ice interpretation is much more plausible.

How does this evidence compare?


Between lunar ice and 24 Themis ice the evidence is about the same (in my opinion).
Between lunar ice and NEO ice there is no comparison.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (3) Oct 27, 2011
Both tech will need to start from scratch.


All our digging devices use gravity. To press a drill or shovel blade we use newtons provided by gravity.

Fluid transfer is often accomplished with gravity.

Ores are separated by flotation, settling and other techniques using gravity.

Without newtons pressing wheels to the road, tires wouldn't work. All our heavy equipment uses gravity to move.

Mining in Vacuum-and-gravity vs vacuum-and-microgravity aren't equal learning curves. Not by a long shot.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (2) Oct 27, 2011
solar arrays would need to be on the far side of the rim, and would only be in sunlight for part of each lunar rotation.


The most interesting anomalous crater is Whipple Crater. It neighbors a plateau that enjoys nearly constant sunlight. The plateau's temperature is thought to be -50 degrees centigrade plus or minus 10 degrees.

The constant power source, mild temperature swings and proximity to volatiles make this one of the least forbidding destinations outside of our own planet.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (6) Oct 27, 2011
Ores are separated by flotation, settling and other techniques using gravity...Without newtons pressing wheels to the road, tires wouldn't work. All our heavy equipment uses gravity to move.
Heavy equipt is heavy. It takes more energy to transport and move. Without too much thought I envision bright young engrs exploring leverage to gain purchase.

Or, a combined digger/processor/transporter will also be heavy under any gravity. A huge piece of machinery like this may be possible in microgravity whereas on the moon it may not be. Large preassembled crawling 'factories' could work on asteroids.

Youre not thinking innovatively.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (6) Oct 27, 2011
Hey heres a NEO with megatons of already partially-processed ore AND its own energy source:

"Fresh analysis of measurements taken from the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe found evidence that beneath the cracked and cratered exterior of asteroid 21 Lutetia was a molten, metallic core...The Rosetta probe swung by the speeding asteroid in July 2010 at a distance of 282 million miles from Earth...The lump of space rock measured 121km long, 101km tall and 75km wide."

Molten metal in space. Hard to produce and handle. Will it be easier to extract it in situ? Is it magnetic?
The most interesting anomalous crater is Whipple Crater. It neighbors a plateau that enjoys nearly constant sunlight.
How many miles of power cable will you need to connect your rotating panels to the mine?
Mining in Vacuum-and-gravity vs vacuum-and-microgravity aren't equal learning curves.
This is an assumption. It could be a misperception. Preassembled factory ships alone could render it false.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (6) Oct 27, 2011
Link for the above Rosetta newsflash:
http://www.guardi...eed=true
Since delta V, trip times, and frequency of launch windows are all irrelevant, why just point to Themis? Pluto and the Kuiper Belt objects in the outer solar system have *lots* of water.
Whats the rush?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
Think of the potential with an asteroid of an accessible molten metal core. Right off it could provide heat and thermoelectricity, and energy for electrolysis. You could perhaps coax molten metal into surface molds of usable shape and size for use as structural members or slab shielding.

You could create subsurface cavities using Plowshare nukes, to be filled with metal, excavated, and thrown into space.
http://en.wikiped...ct_Gnome

You could feed it into surface factories for further refinement and processing. You could turn the whole freeking rock into a foundry with feed tunnels to cavities for refinement and extrusion, all in microgravity.

And the ore would provide all the energy for construction and production.
HopDavid
4 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2011
Or, a combined digger/processor/transporter will also be heavy under any gravity. A huge piece of machinery like this may be possible in microgravity whereas on the moon it may not be. Large preassembled crawling 'factories' could work on asteroids.

Youre not thinking innovatively.


The various methods I cited are tried and true methods that have been in use for decades. Some of them for centuries or millennia.

The devices from your imagination are vapor ware.

Of course developing these technologies will cost zero dollars because they come from someone with zero math and engineering skills who proclaims himself innovative.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Oct 27, 2011
Molten metal in space.
Yeah, typical... Not the first time I've seen this particular, unfortunate formulation. The subtlety you've missed is that it -- *supposedly* -- WAS molten once upon a time. However, several Billion years have passed since this supposed planetary precursor was formed. There's no way in Hell or Heaven that a merely 75-km-thick rock like that could retain molten-metal temperatures at its center after several Billion years of floating in cold vacuum.

Besides, this one isn't a NEO either: it's located in the main asteroid belt -- as you said "282 million miles from Earth", which is almost 2 AU out past our orbit.
How many miles of power cable will you need to connect your rotating panels to the mine?
Fortunately, the Moon is rich in deposits of elements such as Aluminum and Titanium...
This is an assumption.
A very plausible one. For instance, think of all that nasty, abrasive regolith dust: billowing clouds of it floating in microgravity...
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
Yah PE ive been doing some further research here, MSNBC was discussing this with a scientist named Weiss from MIT who may have been misled? -is my guess. They are the only source I see who's calling this molten. Physorg posted an article which does not mention molten, past or present.
The various methods I cited are tried and true methods that have been in use for decades. Some of them for centuries or millennia.

The devices from your imagination are vapor ware.
So is your idea of putting catapillar frontend loaders on the moon.
Of course developing these technologies will cost zero dollars because they come from someone with zero math and engineering skills who proclaims himself innovative.
Ah the noob is becoming petulant. Past your bedtime is it? And I thought we were having a nice pleasant discussion here.
Fortunately, the Moon is rich in deposits of elements such as Aluminum and Titanium...
Yah unfortunately they require a LOT of energy to refine.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.2 / 5 (6) Oct 27, 2011
Hey PE tell the grassHOPper how otto is indefatigable.
There's no way in Hell or Heaven that a merely 75-km-thick rock like that could retain molten-metal temperatures at its center after several Billion years of floating in cold vacuum.
Except perhaps let me think... It was the victim of a recent impact, was recently subjected to tidal forces as in close orbit around a large planet, or contains an inordinate amount of radioactive material, or was recently cleaved from a much larger object? Admit it - it would be a very useful find.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 27, 2011
Hey heres a NEO with megatons of already partially-processed ore AND its own energy source:

"Fresh analysis of measurements taken from the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe found evidence that beneath the cracked and cratered exterior of asteroid 21 Lutetia was a molten, metallic core...


Presently Tsiolkovsky's rocket equation precludes extraterrestrial mining.

But having propellant at various locations in earth orbit can break the exponent in the rocket equation. So long as you have 15 or 16 km/s delta v budgets to get stuff to a destination, asteroid mining's a non starter. But given propellant at EML1, it's can be a 2 km/s round trip to and from an NEO.

This is why I'm asking you for known ice bodies in accessible NEOs.

So far you've pointed to ice on Themis and then you point to an NEO with possible metal ore. The only thing you're demonstrating is a lack of understanding.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2011
Yah unfortunately they require a LOT of energy to refine.
Fortunately, the Moon has no shortage of solar energy, and an overabundance of silicon from which solar panels can be constructed.

Never mind the mineral wealth and spaceport potential... The lunar solar resource alone can supply the Earth with all the energy it needs. Of course, that would require VAST solar farms covering a significant fraction of the Moon's surface -- and those can only be constructed in situ.

It just needs to be bootstrapped. And of course, major industrial-scale operations on the moon (large-scale solar farms, large-scale mining operations) would require major habitat infrastructure and actual people to drive all those activities. Which is partly why I see massive colonization of the Moon as not only likely, but altogether inevitable.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (3) Oct 27, 2011
Except perhaps let me think... It was the victim of a recent impact, ...
No, there's no evidence of large recent impacts, especially any big enough to melt it through to its core. Besides, for a body this size the requisite force of impact will simply shatter it into bits before it has a chance to melt. This one's apparently not a rubble pile.
was recently subjected to tidal forces as in close orbit around a large planet
It's in the MAIN ASTEROID BELT.
or contains an inordinate amount of radioactive material
That would be unbelievably extraordinary.
or was recently cleaved from a much larger object?
No evidence of that, either. It's being described as a potential rare surviving proto-planet. Have you actually READ the article you linked??
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2011
So is your idea of putting catapillar frontend loaders on the moon.


http://www.univer...he-moon/

The TRL for extraterrestrial mining in a gravity well is much further along than microgravity mining.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
Depends on what the stuff is and where it is needed. If the stuff happens to be an entire mountain-sized rock sent toward the Midwest by kamakaze jihadis, then you had better get there first. If there is the possibility of wildly exploitable bodies such as asteroids with molten cores out there, then we should begin looking, and developing the ability to access them, now.

Who knows what's out there? There has got to be solid nickel-iron, water ice, or hydrocarbon rocks ready to be towed to the nearest Lagrange point. Valuable commodities you need to dig for on the moon and mars, may have already been uncovered by countless collisions in the belt.
Besides, this one isn't a NEO either: it's located in the main asteroid belt -- as you said "282 million miles from Earth", which is almost 2 AU out past our orbit.
Yeah I am mathless so what? I do appreciate the value of it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
This is how we deal with regolith in asteroids
http://www.youtub...a_player

But instead of falling it just keeps going.

"Although only HALF of Lutetia has yet been imaged, so its precise shape is not yet known, we can say that the asteroid's bulk density is unexpectedly high. In fact, it has one of the highest densities of any known asteroid," added Sierks.

"ASSUMING that Lutetia has a modest internal porosity, its high density PROBABLY indicates that it is enriched in metallic elements such as iron.

"It MAY also be evidence of partial differentiation of the asteroid's interior, early in its history, with an unmelted chondritic surface overlying a higher density interior which was once molten...
potential rare surviving proto-planet. Have you actually READ the article you linked??
Actually, not proto-planet;

"The Rosetta data indicate that Lutetia is PROBABLY a primordial planetesimal..."

-And not a whole lot of definitive info.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 27, 2011
And they'd be somehow cheaper and more available than lunar ice? What would they be?


It is possible some recent arrivals from the Jupiter Trojans or even the asteroid belt have volatile ices. Here is a list of links arguing NEO ices may exist. It might surprise Otto, but I believe such bodies exist. We just haven't found them yet.

But to exploit such an NEO we must lift humans, life support and radiation shielding from the bottom of earth's gravity well. A non starter.

But with propellant, water for radiation shielding, and consumables available at EML1, we could reach NEOs. Lunar water would enable us to bring back much more water.

As well as PGMs and other stuff.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 27, 2011
This is how we deal with regolith in asteroids:
http://www.youtub...a_player


Oh my gosh. On an airless rock, you'd use a snow blower? Air is a precious commodity which you'd be blasting into outer space.

-But instead of falling it just keeps going.


The dust and debris that doesn't achieve escape velocity will continue to orbit the asteroid. Then you have a permanent dust and debris cloud.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
But to exploit such an NEO we must lift humans, life support and radiation shielding from the bottom of earth's gravity well. A non starter.
Nah potentially just robotic factory ships. Tech is developing exponentially (math?) Who knows what will be possible in 30 years.

I still think it will be easier to operate self-contained factories in microgravity, than separated RC skipjacks and who knows what on the moon. We'll see.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2011
Yeah I am mathless so what?


It takes math to determine delta v, trip time and other factors. If you have no math, you're not qualified to make an argument.

I do appreciate the value of it.


An asteroid we can't reach has no value.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
Oh my gosh. On an airless rock, you'd use a snow blower? Air is a precious commodity which you'd be blasting into outer space.
Super high-tech blowers which impart the proper escape velocity to most all the regolith. What's the orbital V of Lutetia? 2 fps?

They would double as propulsion.

Concepts do not require math. Discerning international security priorities, does not require math. It only requires carl sagan.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2011
Nah potentially just robotic factory ships.


You invoke handwavium. FAIL

Tech is developing exponentially (math?)


If you invest the time and effort to learn some math and science, you would be able to better assess what's plausible near term and what isn't.

PinkElephant
not rated yet Oct 27, 2011
This is how we deal with regolith in asteroids
This wouldn't work outside the atmosphere. And any drilling/mining operation will create new micro-particles, which will simply float around in micro-gravity and get into all of your machinery (even if they weren't already attracted to your equipment by static electricity...)
Actually, not proto-planet;
Planetesimal, proto-planet: all a matter of degree. This one's large enough to be either considered a giant planetesimal, or a tiny proto-planet.

And it's still not an NEO.

PS. Damn, you guys are going at warp speed. I'll just sit on the sidelines with my popcorn for now, mkay? :)
PinkElephant
not rated yet Oct 27, 2011
... or not just yet.
Concepts do not require math. Discerning international security priorities, does not require math. It only requires carl sagan.
Sagan was pretty damn good with math. Just so you know...

Aaaaand, you're no Sagan. (sorry)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
If you invest the time and effort to learn some math and science, you would be able to better assess what's plausible near term and what isn't.
And if you invest more time in idle speculation and reading scifi and wacko conspiracy theories, you might expand your horizons. Right PE?

I haven't actually read scifi in awhile. But the stuff I've read, and the hard science I have been exposed to, has made me familiar with a lot that people who ARE skilled in their disciplines, have come up with.
This wouldn't work outside the atmosphere.
This is a humorous allusion of something which could be devised to work in vacuum. It operates by centrifugal force, no?
And any drilling/mining operation will create new micro-particles, which will simply float around in micro-gravity and get into all of your machinery (even if they weren't already attracted to your equipment by static electricity...)
Same problem on the moon, different degree. Wonder how deep the gritty stuff is?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
... or not just yet.
Concepts do not require math. Discerning international security priorities, does not require math. It only requires carl sagan.
Sagan was pretty damn good with math. Just so you know...

Aaaaand, you're no Sagan. (sorry)
And yet I get to reap the benefits of all his hard calculating. Sagan says asteroids as weapons are a danger, and I trust he made the calculations to back this up.

This is called division of labor.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 27, 2011
Super high-tech blowers which impart the proper escape velocity to most all the regolith. What's the orbital V of Lutetia? 2 fps?


A snowblower would send air - a precious commodity - into the vacuum of space.

The asteroid regolith would have particles from micron sized dust particles to boulders. A snow blower would accelerate the smaller ones more, the larger ones less. And motion on asteroid surface would be chaotic. Particles would be bouncing off one another and going many directions.

You mathless "innovation" would surround your asteroid mine with an debris cloud as well as waste many tonnes of volatiles.

They would double as propulsion.


Do you know the ISP of a snowblower?

Concepts do not require math.


Huh?

Discerning international security priorities, does not require math. It only requires carl sagan.


Are you a troll yanking my chain?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
Perhaps something along the lines of this technological masterpiece...
http://www.youtub...a_player
A snow blower would accelerate the smaller ones more, the larger ones less. And motion on asteroid surface would be chaotic.
Again, what's the escape velocity of an asteroid? How much energy could be imparted to the ejecta, and what effect might this have on the rock? Would it at least serve to hold the apparatus more firmly to the surface? Could it be used to reduce rotational speed in addition to removing regolith and overall making things more tidy?
PinkElephant
3 / 5 (2) Oct 27, 2011
Are you a troll yanking my chain?
Warning: don't get Otto started on vast global conspiracies involving a cabal of magical Leaders who in their infinite wisdom planned and executed every major event and calamity in recorded history.

Yes, he is quite a troll. Though at least in this here discussion, he isn't yet going as far off the deep end as he sometimes tends to do.

Forewarned is forearmed...
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 27, 2011
And yet I get to reap the benefits of all his hard calculating.


So show me where Sagan suggests using a snow blower to clear regolith from an asteroid.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
Perhaps something along the lines of this technological masterpiece...
http://www.youtub...a_player
A snow blower would accelerate the smaller ones more, the larger ones less. And motion on asteroid surface would be chaotic.
Again, what's the escape velocity of an asteroid? How much energy could be imparted to the ejecta, and what effect might this have on the rock? Would it at least serve to hold the apparatus more firmly to the surface? Could it be used to reduce rotational speed in addition to removing regolith and overall making things more tidy?


And did you miss my Sagan reference where he warns of the inevitable danger from terrorist rocks-as-weapons? He wrote a book on it. He considered the danger greater than from naturally-occuting impactors.
Yes, he is quite a troll.
Am not. But I am quite entertaining.
HopDavid
not rated yet Oct 27, 2011
Yes, he is quite a troll. Though at least in this here discussion, he isn't yet going as far off the deep end as he sometimes tends to do.


Thanks. I was starting to suspect as much. At first I thought he was a lucid person arguing in good faith.
PinkElephant
4 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2011
show me where Sagan suggests using a snow blower to clear regolith from an asteroid.
...or a vacuum cleaner (which, ironically, doesn't work in a vacuum.)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (6) Oct 27, 2011
So show me where Sagan suggests using a snow blower to clear regolith from an asteroid
What does clearing regolith have to do with national security?!??
...or a vacuum cleaner (which, ironically, doesn't work in a vacuum.)
If anyone can make it work, I'm sure dyson can.

And you do know the mars direct option is a viable one. And you do know that, per the president, NASAs mission is now to bypass the moon in favor of asteroids and the mars moons. I happen to think there are very plausible and practical and Strategic reasons for this, some of which I have presented above. People like sagan PBUH seemed to agree with this sentiment.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2011
the inevitable danger from terrorist rocks-as-weapons
Ok, about that. How do you expect those terrorists to:

1) Get up there in the first place, not to mention get the $Trillions needed for R&D as well as operations to do that with all of the equipment for the rest:
2) Get enough propulsion engines and fuel up there to significantly alter the asteroid's orbit
3) Do it so precisely that when (if) it does actually hit, it winds up hitting their intended target as opposed to their own hometowns

and, most importantly,

4) Do all of the above without the rest of the world noticing and intervening, AND
5) Do all of the above without anybody noticing the huge exhaust plumes from the 'deorbiting' motors and the ever-changing trajectory of the asteroid?

Even with today's technology, none of the above are even within the realm of possibility. In the future, by the time 1-3 become feasible, 4-5 will be altogether impossible.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 27, 2011
ASK SAGAN. or rather, read the book wherein he discusses all this.
PinkElephant
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2011
ASK SAGAN. or rather, read the book wherein he discusses all this
Sorry, don't have the book. Why don't you paraphrase, since you've apparently read it.

Oh, and did Sagan mention whether this was likely to become possible before both the Moon and Mars are completely colonized? (IOW, priorities...)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.4 / 5 (5) Oct 28, 2011
ASK SAGAN. or rather, read the book wherein he discusses all this
Sorry, don't have the book. Why don't you paraphrase, since you've apparently read it.
Oh I did dear. Read through the posts above to familiarize yourself with the conversation.
Oh, and did Sagan mention whether this was likely to become possible before both the Moon and Mars are completely colonized? (IOW, priorities...)
Oh I would think by then it would be too late to develop the potential to protect these sites? Capabilities like this do take time you know. I (and apparently the pres and NASA) think we should be starting now.

This is called Planning and Anticipating, things we humans have become very good at. Some of us anyway.

And Leaders of course.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 28, 2011
show me where Sagan suggests using a snow blower to clear regolith from an asteroid.
...or a vacuum cleaner (which, ironically, doesn't work in a vacuum.)
Hmmm... perhaps not. Maybe something more along these lines:
http://www.youtub...a_player

Massey fergusson on apophis. As ye sow so shall ye reap. Aw I'm sure the engrs will figure it out.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 28, 2011
On a more serious note, we can see that this is a fairly mature technology
http://www.youtub...a_player
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2011
Any relevant treaties for moon real estate?

Moon legal status:
http://en.wikiped...l_status

Surely linear motors would be a cheap & efficient way of launching capsules/transport vehicles back to earth.

While still SciFi for Earth a space elevator from the Moon surface should be technologically feasible with today's materials.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.5 / 5 (6) Oct 28, 2011
On a more serious note PE I know how you hate to read so here is an excerpt from sagans book
http://www.youtub...a_player
While still SciFi for Earth a space elevator from the Moon surface should be technologically feasible with today's materials.
And from the surface of most asteroids and comets you wouldn't need one. A slingshot would do just fine.
HopDavid
5 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2011
But I am quite entertaining.


No, you're not. I have limited time. Therefore I can't invest in forums with poor signal to noise ratio. I'm out of here. You have successfully driven me from this discussion.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (6) Oct 28, 2011
But I am quite entertaining.


No, you're not. I have limited time. Therefore I can't invest in forums with poor signal to noise ratio. I'm out of here. You have successfully driven me from this discussion.
In other words otto wins. You haven't made one point that I haven't successfully countered, nor have you successfully countered any point that I've made, except for harping on a few math errors.

Sagan, Obama, and myself all agree - our future is on mars and in the belt. Let the commies and the socialists have the moon. It IS a lot like Siberia.

Stay tuned for tantalizing discoveries and tech advancements which confirm all this.
GDM
5 / 5 (3) Oct 28, 2011
Sorry, Otto, you are wrong. To lose your audience is to lose your argument. Obama made his decision shortly before water was discovered on the moon in large quantities, and is not really all that interested in space. Neither was JFK. JFK only wanted to win a race with the USSR to blunt their effective propaganda machine(They had the first sat - Sputnik, they had the first man in orbit, they had the first lunar robot, the first lunar samples to be returned, the first venus landing). Want to explore a NEO? The moon is the closest and largest, with far greater resources than any other. I'm not about to give up THAT high ground to anyone. You are are very correct to want to go to Mars and beyond, but I want things to happen sooner than 30 years from now. We went to the moon in less than 10 years before, and we can go back a lot faster, with better equipment, and build a space-based industry that will make it easier to get to Mars, the asteroids and beyond. Let's do it!
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.3 / 5 (7) Oct 29, 2011
So JFK only wanted to go to the moon for PR? He should be shot.

'You build your moon base. We will drop a rock on it.' -Sagan Occupy Wall Streeters (SOWS)

You will at least be leapfrogged. Power to the forward thinkers.
GDM
5 / 5 (2) Oct 29, 2011
Sorry, wrong again. You cannot get past a "fortress" on the moon. With one hemisphere always facing the Earth, seeing everything every day, and the other hemisphere always looking outward, no one is going to "leapfrog" it in a time of war. Any space craft could be taken out with a "puff" of regolith accelerated to hit the craft head on. The offending craft would be taken out in a super-sized sand blast. But that doesn't matter. We will go to Mars and the asteroids. We will settle the moon and establish factories there.
There are over 8,000 NEOs (not main belt asteroids), and of these, 1,262 are potentially hazardous to Earth. Those will be the ones to check out first, and probably simultaneously with the development of lunar bases. Remember, the moon has been collecting asteroids for over 4 billion years. The resources are still on the Moon, just waiting....
check out http://ssd.jpl.na...uery.cgi and be sure to select "MOID" as a parameter.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.1 / 5 (7) Oct 29, 2011
Did not see MOID as an option
Sorry, wrong again. You cannot get past a "fortress" on the moon.
?? You think the moon is gibraltar maybe? Where do you get this puff of regolith thing?

Space is a very big place. Gibraltar is never where you want it to be when you need it to be there. But it IS a sitting duck, as is mars, as is earth, and any large structures we wish to build in space.

The Rand Corp did a study on this possibility which I am having trouble locating.

You are also not considering that nation states with a continuing presence in space would not pursue this option in steps, not unlike the way iran and north korea are developing nukes. Such as diverting rocks into 'benign' orbits with the pretext of processing them, from which they could be quickly diverted as weapons.

Neither profit nor delta V would be considerations for them. If they can find an excuse to present a threat, then we must move first to mitigate that potential.
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Oct 29, 2011
You can learn a lot reading NASA papers. (http://ntrs.nasa....rch.jsp) As for MOID, look for the "Earth Minimum Orbit Intersection Distance" in the right-hand selection box in the previous link. Also, a "puff" of regolith (my description) was suggested as a destructive means of disabling satellites a few years back. Take about a ton of the stuff, accelerate it to re-entry speed (24,000 mph from the moon) and send it in a counter-orbital path against your target. Closing speed of about 40,000 mmph and poof! Any large structure in space COULD be a sitting duck if if cannot manuver, but you cannot hide your approach to it. Nukes will never be permitted in space unless there is a war. If such a war comes, not much will be lifting off the Earth. I will devote my current thoughts to more realistic (peaceful) pursuits until such time as I have a reason not to.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.9 / 5 (7) Oct 30, 2011
Nukes will never be permitted in space unless there is a war.
Nukes will be invaluable in engineering and mining efforts throughout the system. We have them all over the planet. Why not space? You're only thinking about public sentiment which is created and changed at will.

And your regoweapon will not work against objects able to maneuver and accelerate. But it does demonstrate how vulnerable regoweapon installations would be to impactors. Their existance would require the ability to take them out as needed and possibly preemptively.

This is called an arms race, and further reason why we should expect military exploitation of mars moons and the belt.
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Oct 30, 2011
With the exception of nukes, I have to agree with most of what you say. Humans will always be humans. However, it would not be wise to use nukes to excavate ore that you hope to refine. Too much radioactivity to deal with. If you are using nukes to move mountains with no desire to use what gets contaminated, I suppose they may be used some time in the distant future. We (US, USSR, etc) banned all nukes in space years ago and I doubt we will rescind that treaty any time soon. Using nukes to destroy an impactor would be foolish if alll you did is to break up the rock into many irradiated ones.
Getting back to some other things you mentioned earlier. I smiled about the discussion of a regolith vacuum cleaner. I believe such a device has been sketched out. It would have the vacuum pipe (sucking up regolith) surrounded by a high-pressure pipe to feed into the area surrounding the vacuum pipe, and another outer skirt, somewhat like a gasoline vapor recovery hose and would (cont.)
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Oct 30, 2011
seal off the area around the high pressure pipe to prevent leakage into space. Might be fun to try something like that out. A "snow blower" would not be particularly useful, as it would raise enourmous volumes of regolith dust. Regolith is a valuable resource, as it is already ground down, ready for magnetic separation, chemical processing, or simple heating to melt down into bricks.
I think the Spudis plan has a great deal of merit. I would like to explore the possibilities of shrinking the excavators, refineries, etc so that less mass is moved to the moon at first. Then, let those build larger replicas of themselves using in situ resources. NASA has plans like these going back to the 70's. It is only politics that is keeping us on Earth, and we can change that.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (7) Oct 30, 2011
However, it would not be wise to use nukes to excavate ore that you hope to refine. Too much radioactivity to deal with.
If you look up the Gnome shot which was part of the Plowshare program you'll see that the cavity created could be occupied 6 mos after detonation. You've heard too much hype.
We (US, USSR, etc) banned all nukes in space years ago
And we will rescind that treaty as soon as it becomes necessary.
Using nukes to destroy an impactor would be foolish if alll you did is to break up the rock into many irradiated ones.
Again you need to do a little research before posting your errant assumptions.

And a mass driver is a 'snow blower' of sorts. Material can be scooped up and accelerated in precise ways at the escape velocity of a typical asteroid. You don't need gas to do it. Snow blowers don't operate on suction. They scoop and then throw with centrifugal force. So do combine harvesters. The ejecta can indeed be vectored for thrust.
ShotmanMaslo
3 / 5 (4) Oct 30, 2011
Using nukes to destroy an impactor would be foolish if alll you did is to break up the rock into many irradiated ones.


Not when the impactor is aimed at some place on earth. Breaking it up would increase its surface area considerably and thus make it more vulnerable to burn up in atmosphere. One large piece is much more dangerous than lots of small ones.
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Oct 30, 2011
Ghost: Yes, a little research into Plowshare and Gnome is called for. Maybe you should try it. Gnome was a failure, as was Plowshare.
Shotman: If you have a large impactor, braking it into 2, 3 or more slightly smaller pieces MIGHT save the Earth, unless the impactor is really BIG, then all you have done is create a "shotgun" blast over a larger area on Earth. You really have to determine the size and character of the impactor first. If it is a loose "rock pile" trying to knock it down might be ineffective. If it is a solid rock, a nuke MIGHT move it a little, perhaps enough to miss the Earth, or not. However, all of these arguments have nothing to do with the Spudis plan, which still needs some more discussion. Can we stay on that subject a little while longer?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2011
Ghost: Yes, a little research into Plowshare and Gnome is called for. Maybe you should try it. Gnome was a failure, as was Plowshare.
And what is it that you mean by failure? I don't understand what point it is you are trying to make.
GDM
5 / 5 (1) Oct 31, 2011
Failure, as in not successful, project terminated and never resurected. Getting back to some of your interests (asteroids), were you able to obtain a listing of NEO's (or potentially hazardous ones)? Select the Aten class and drill down to the orbital diagram. 2004 MN4 (aka 99942 Apophis) is just one of the asteroids that reach their apehelion near the Earth's orbit. Since it will be moving at it's slowest speed, that is a good place to give it a push and bring it closer to Earth, preferably not too close, L4/L5 will do. It will make its next close approach Jan 8, 2013. Or, perhaps just drop a transponder on it and track it until we can better define its orbit. You mentioned earlier "Harpoon the sucker and let it drag you to a stop". I'm assuming that you mean let it drag you up to it's speed. Most likely, you would get whipped around the object until you crash on its surface. Surely, you can think of a better way. NASA has, read some of their papers.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2011
Failure, as in not successful, project terminated and never resurected
No, sentiment at the time was redirected against engineering uses. But the program proved applications in many venues. Much valuable data was collected which was the purpose of the program. Gnome for instance, showed that it was possible to create large habitable voids deep underground. Which is one of the ways they will be used on other bodies in the solar system.

Plowshare was a great success. The Russians took this research and application somewhat further. They used nukes to stop runaway methane wells and create a harbor for instance.

Together the US and USSR were able to explore the vast engineering potential of nuclear explosives, if and when they are ever needed for the Purpose.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2011
"Harpoon the sucker and let it drag you to a stop". I'm assuming that you mean let it drag you up to it's speed. Most likely, you would get whipped around the object until you crash on its surface. Surely, you can think of a better way. NASA has, read some of their papers.
Sounds like you have a tetherball on your mind? I would think more like bungee jumping. Engrs would design the system to release once the probe is in orbit I think. A cable with a borer/grappler device at the end could be played out during transit, at the proper angle, to affix itself to the rock and begin altering the probes trajectory.

Possible? I don't know. It would need to be investigated if it hasn't already been.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2011
Actually
http://www.popula...asteroid

I would rather be good than original.
GDM
not rated yet Nov 01, 2011
Your tetherball analogy is good, because what you originally suggested would result in a similar end. It is all dependent on the relative delta-v between the space craft and asteroid. In order to actually "dock" with the asteroid, you need to be pretty close to a zero closing speed. Think of docking a very large ship, and the "harpoon" is a mooring line that allows you to land your craft on the asteroid and keep it in place. All of this has been investigated by NASA and their proposals have merit.
As we have differing opinions on whether we should start first with operations on the moon vs asteroids, I welcome your comments on a recent article in the Space Review: http://thespacere...e/1959/1
Also, with regard to breaking up an impactor, consider this: Apophis is about 900 feet in diameter. The Barringer Crater in Arizona was created by a rock about 162 feet in diameter (about 1/2 its original size). The later was equivalent to about a 10 megaton blast. (cont)
GDM
not rated yet Nov 01, 2011
...it would not be wise to blow up any large impactor unless you have no other option, meaning a global extinction event whether you break it up or not. Better to move it into a safer orbit, and to do that, the best way is for a small fleet of space tugs, built in space from in situ resources (asteroid or lunar). Again, it would be like moving a very large ship. First stop the rotation (apophis rotates once every 30 hours), then accelerate or decelerate its orbit, based on where in its orbit you start your process. This requires deep space operations, whether robotic or manned, and we do not have that capability. So, we HAVE to start on the moon, as that is where the resources are.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2011
In order to actually "dock" with the asteroid, you need to be pretty close to a zero closing speed.
No, you would need other systems such as thrusters to fine-tune your approach.

"What those Chinese actions would do, though, he said, was restore a fear factor kind of motivation for American space efforts"

-Necessity is the Mother of invention. But as the move into space is a major endeavor we can expect many Players to be involved, along with the necessary economic and political Adjustments in order to make it all work.

Think of all the nation states and rogue entities which participated in the conquest of the western hemisphere. Reflect on the healthy spirit of competition which made it so Successful.

'Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood...' -Daniel Burnham,
http://en.wikiped..._Burnham
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2011
In order to actually "dock" with the asteroid, you need to be pretty close to a zero closing speed.
No, it would initially require ancillary systems such as thrusters. But I think flexible tethers can be devised to do more work in slowing the craft and helping to compensate for delta V considerations that mr hopdavid seems to think are so critical. This would not work with moon approach except with an elevator which was mentioned.
I welcome your comments on a recent article in the Space Review
"Why would China do such a thing?"

'Necessity is the Mother of invention.' But as the move into space will be a major undertaking I would wexpect to see many Players involved.

Think of all the entities involved in the conquest of the western hemisphere. Reflect on the healthy spirit of competition which made it all work so well.

'Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood...' D Burnham - architect, freemason

http://en.wikiped..._Burnham
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Nov 01, 2011
Wow. Wonder how I did that? Sorry youll have to conflate those 2 to figure out what I was saying-
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2011
Wow. Wonder how I did that? Sorry youll have to conflate those 2 to figure out what I was saying-
GDM
not rated yet Nov 02, 2011
Yeah, PhysOrg has been wonky lately. I'm going to end our conversation and pick it up again on another suitable thread. As a parting gift, check out this from the Shackleton Energy co. He is the same guy who is building a submersible robot that NASA will fly to Europa.
http://rockethub....t-depots
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Nov 02, 2011
Yeah, PhysOrg has been wonky lately. I'm going to end our conversation and pick it up again on another suitable thread. As a parting gift, check out this from the Shackleton Energy co. He is the same guy who is building a submersible robot that NASA will fly to Europa.
http://rockethub....t-depots

Nice link thanks. So it looks like the moon will be exploited commercially. And so it must be protected, as will the mars settlements and anything citizens will want to build in space.

This means securing the trade routes, the martian moons, and access to the belt. This is a job for the US military, which is NASA.