"The ideal follow-up, of course, would be to drop probes into one or two of these pits, and get a really good look at what's down there"
Probes like this?
Moon-gazing boffins have found many steep-sided, shaft-like pits which might have caves or overhangs that would be ideal locations for lunar bases of the future. Using images beamed back from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scientists identified more than 200 holes with steep sides. Most of the pits were found in …
Something like a small platform with a rotating head, ideally including some kind of 3d laser scanner to get the size and depth back into the shadows (which will be very dark). anything that moves the viability of a human outpost forward is a good thing.
Targeting it so it goes right down the pipe is likely to be pretty tricky however.
When people talk of "data mining" they rarely think of this sort of thing. Reviewing old(er) scientific data for new discoveries yet that is exactly what this is.
Probably not, he’s an outspoken opponent of any manned space exploration. Yes, a man who has for all intents and purposes been to space, and is only a widely known name because of manned space programs and their resultant technologies, uses said celebrity status to bash manned space flight.
Well that's a step toward The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress except...
Growing enough food on the Moon to support a large population is still going to be the factor that limits the number of people that can live on the Moon.
That said, the Moon is a great place to do science, research & engineering studies and one day some manufacturing but I doubt we'll ever see a large autonomous population living there permanently.
Well, if these subterranean voids are common (these are only holes down into them), then growing crops is a matter of lighting the voids, adding viable soil and growing the crops, and keeping them watered.
Of these, I think that adding lighting is doable, once we have the power plant.
Soil? We would have to manufacture it on the moon, with some way of seeding it with the required microbes and fauna. That doesn't sound easy to me. I expect people are working on it. Hydroponics will probably be the initial system.
Water - well, that requires a means to extract water from the lunar soil/rock. It's meant to be there, but the equipment wouldn't be easy to get onto the moon in the first place.
Building a small manned base under the overhangs of one of these things seems easy in comparison.
"Well, if these subterranean voids are common (these are only holes down into them), then growing crops is a matter of lighting the voids, adding viable soil and growing the crops, and keeping them watered."
Hmm, subterranean voids... cold environment.... darkness... that can mean only one thing: emmental
(Holmes, Watson, elemental.... I'll change the icon to the one of me getting my coat.)
that can mean only one thing: emmental
Well, the moon is already made of cheese* **, so there's bound to be holes in it. Which means that for a human population we only need to get crackers up there. And mustard.
* So sayeth Wallace & Gromit
** Leicester? Tilsit? Caerphilly, Bel Paese? Red Windsor? Stilton? Emmental? Gruyère? Norwegian Jarlsberger, Liptauer? Lancashire? White Stilton? Danish Blue? Double Gloucester? Cheshire? Dorset Blue Vinney? Brie, Roquefort, Pont-l'Évêque, Port Salut, Savoyard, Saint-Paulin, Carre-de-L'Est, Bresse-Bleu, Boursin? Camembert, Gouda? Edam? Caithness? Smoked Austrian? Japanese Sage Darby? Wensleydale? Greek Feta? Gorgonzola? Parmesan? Mozzarella? Pippo Crème? Danish Fimboe? Czech sheep's milk? Venezuelan Beaver Cheese?. Cheddar? Ilchester? Limburger?
Land probe on the top of the crater, or close enough that a rover could climb up it.
Once at the top the rover stops and releases a ball probe on a cable that rolls down and into the hole, and dangles by the cable.
Inside that clear plastic ball is your imaging/laser range finding/light source/camera equipment, powered via the tether back to the rover on the crater rim. The golf ball down in the hole sends it's data back to the rover which beams it up.
That way you're not stuck depending on a satellite EXACTLY overflying the hole to get your data back.
Anyone else have any daft ideas?
Solar insolation on the Moon is only 0.4 meter per "Lunar Equator Surface Temperature and Regolith Profile" at Journal of Geophysical Research. Beyond the equator, Lunar temps drop rapidly as incidence angle reflects sunlight with little radiant penetration. Lunar poles are ~40 K, as is the dark side a few days after sunset. Nuclear power would be mandatory for settlement.
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