The big space news in the last couple of days has been the discovery of water on the surface of the moon, which I think is pretty freaking cool:
NASA scientists have discovered water molecules in the polar regions of the Moon. Instruments aboard three separate spacecraft revealed water molecules in amounts that are greater than predicted, but still relatively small. Hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, also was found in the lunar soil. The findings were published in Thursday’s edition of the journal Science.
People are saying that this makes colonizing the Moon more of a possibility because we would be able to mine the water, but it doesn’t seem to me that there’s all that much of it:
“The data from Cassini’s VIMS instrument and M3 closely agree,” said Roger Clark, a U.S. Geological Survey scientist in Denver and member of both the VIMS and M3 teams. “We see both water and hydroxyl. While the abundances are not precisely known, as much as 1,000 water molecule parts-per-million could be in the lunar soil. To put that into perspective, if you harvested one ton of the top layer of the Moon’s surface, you could get as much as 32 ounces of water.”
Maybe it’s enough, obviously I don’t know much about what the needs of a moon base would be, but I think this discovery is really awesome even if it makes the return of people to the moon just that much more within reach.
It’s been forty years since one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments: putting a human on another world. How freaking cool was that?! I wish I was around to see it live, and as you can tell by reading this list, I hope I’m around to see it happen again.
My eyes welled up when I read NASA’s take on the 40th anniversary, so I’m just going to quote them:
Forty years ago, Apollo astronauts set out on a daring adventure to explore the Moon. They ended up discovering their own planet.
It was Christmas Eve, 1968, the close of one of the most turbulent, fractured years in U.S. and world history. The picture offered a much needed new perspective on “home.”For the first time in history, humankind looked at Earth and saw not a jigsaw puzzle of states and countries on an uninspiring flat map – but rather a whole planet, a fragile sphere of dazzling beauty floating alone in a dangerous void. There was a home worthy of careful stewardship.
The late nature photographer Galen Rowell described this photo as “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”
In a fitting tribute to the 40th anniversary of the moon missions, the LRO has sent back some pictures of the moon landing site. Head over to this site to have a look, they’re really cool to see. You can see the LM and it’s shadow, and even the paths taken by the astronauts across the surface.
Published July 17, 2009
LinzeeBinzee , Science
Tags: AIDS, Aliens, Astronomy, Dark Matter, Death, Discovery, Higgs-Boson, Innovation, Life on Other Planets, Medicine, Moon, Mortality, NASA, Nuclear Power, People in Space, Vaccine
For some reason I’ve been thinking about my mortality a lot lately, maybe because I recently celebrated a birthday. Since I abandoned my wishful thinking of an afterlife I’ve become more okay with death. I don’t have irrational fears of hell, I can just shut my eyes and that will be the end.
But the thought that the end is truly the end is also a really sad thought, because we live a time of so much innovation, and I would like to be around to witness it.
I decided that I’m going to make a list of discoveries and advancements that I’d like to see in my lifetime. I hope I can check some of them off soon, and I’ll try to update the list as I think of things…which is why I’m calling this post Part 1.
Here’s the list so far:
- The discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle
- Humans back to the Moon
- Discovery of alien life, hopefully intelligent but bacteria would be cool too!
- Figuring out what the heck dark matter is
- Space tourism
- Nuclear power to replace coal
- AIDS vaccine
I’ll start off with 7, that’s a pretty ambitious list! Unfortunately I won’t be taking part in discovering or implementing any of these things, but I will idolize the scientists who do so. And I do hope to take part in some space tourism in my lifetime, how awesome would that be?!
What would be on your list?
Here’s something cool…
On July 20th, 1969, humans first set foot on the moon. Now you can follow what happened leading up to the mission via Twitter as if it were happening today.
Go to: https://twitter.com/ApolloPlus40
[Follow me on Twitter @EnlightningLinZ]
The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute wants to know!
If SETI detects a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, what would you want to say to them? Or should we even reply?
Click here to let SETI know what you think we should say to the aliens!
For the last 4 months, until May 27th, an armless, legless torso has been aboard the International Space Station, so that scientists could learn more about the space radiation that presents a challenge to having a human presence in space.
The torso provided a real-world confirmation that the computer models previously used to look at space radiation were accurate, so now they can be confident in using the models to plan future space missions.
What does it all mean?:
“Short lunar missions are fine,” [Francis] Cucinotta [of NASA's Johnson Space Centre] says, “but living in a lunar habitat for 6 months starts to be problematic. We’re going to have to do a really good job with radiation shielding and perhaps medical countermeasures to have 6-month missions.”
Mars will be even tougher, these models suggest. Some scenarios call for missions that would last 18 months or more. “Right now there’s no design solution to stay within safety limits for such a Mars mission,” Cucinotta says. “Putting enough radiation shielding around a spacecraft would make it far too heavy to launch, so we need to find better lightweight shielding materials, and we probably need to develop medical techniques to counteract damage to cells caused by cosmic rays.” He notes that one of the biggest obstacles to progress in this area is “uncertainty in the types of cell damage deep cosmic ray exposure can cause. We still have a lot to learn.”
The International Space Station will be welcoming three new astronauts this week:
“Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Bob Thirsk are expected to arrive at the space station Friday morning. The trio will begin an era of six-person crews aboard the station.
They will join station commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Mike Barratt of NASA and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and they will remain aboard the space station for six months. The entire Expedition 20 crew represents five agencies — the first time a space station crew has represented all five international space agency partners at once.”
Cheers to international cooperation for science!
I’ll keep the updates coming.
This is some cool news…
NASA announced on Thursday that they were “on target for a June mission to scour the Moon’s surface for landing sites and water that would allow humans to work and even live on Earth’s nearest neighbor.” -Yahoo!
Lonely moon, waiting for visitors
I’m not sure if this is new news, but it’s the first I’ve heard of it so I’m blogging about it anyways. I think this is really cool, for one thing because – I think it’s pretty obvious – I’m a huge nerd for anything that has to do with astronomy. This is a step towards a continuous human presence in space. Water on the moon would make it so much easier to have a base there, and having a permanent base on the moon opens up some interesting possibilities.
One of these possibilities is giant telescopes on the moon, allowing us to see further out and more clearly than telescopes on Earth, and the space telescopes. It might even be possible to build a telescope with a mirror nearly 5 times as large as any on Earth, and about 20 times as large as Hubble. The special conditions on the moon that would allow for such a telescope include no atmosphere, weak gravity so such a large mirror can be spun, and moon dust that has many of the ingredients necessary to build a mirror.
Artist's concept of astronauts with a telescope on the moon
The moon’s a cool thing, we’re lucky to have it, it’s so close and it’s within our reach to have a presence there…hopefully this upcoming mission will provide some helpful information.