back to article Q. China just landed on its far side, the US woz there 50 years ago – now Europe wants to mine it? A. It's the Moon

Within the next six years, the European Space Agency hopes to drill into the Moon and extract oxygen and water, paving the way for folks to eventually live on the rocky satellite. The ESA this week signed a one-year contract with ArianeGroup, an aerospace biz specializing in space rides and ballistic missiles, to bring the …

  1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Ouah! Ouah!

  2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Just Koenig Again

    Probably crashing yet another Eagle.

    1. Nattrash

      Re: Just Koenig Again

      Does this mean Europe isn't there yet? On the dark side of the moon?

      I could have sworn that I remember the Beeb reporting that we were already there...

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    I hope Humanity won't mess the Moon when exploiting its resources like it did with Earth.

    Some rules should be internationally defined before starting to dig.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      There isn't much there to mess with.

      1. A.P. Veening

        Not much there

        How do you know, have you been there?

        Better safe than sorry.

      2. caffeine addict Silver badge

        There's weird gravity spiders. I saw them on a documentary about some doctor who went up there...

      3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        RE: you'reanidiot

        "There isn't much there to mess with."

        There was a really thick politician in the US who claimed people had to be prevented from dropping rocks off the moon onto the planet below. We have our first flat mooner!

        Source: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/feb/28/brianna-wu-claims-companies-could-destroy-cities-b/

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: RE: you'reanidiot

          Well.... there were some Science Fiction tales about colonists who rebelled and used various means to launch rocks at Earth. Maybe the politician read one or two and thought they were the real deal? Or... maybe they should be sharing their drugs with the rest of us so we can see things like this also?

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Alien

            Re: RE: you'reanidiot

            If it's good enough for the Centauri.....

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: RE: you'reanidiot

          "There was a really thick politician in the US who claimed people had to be prevented from dropping rocks off the moon onto the planet below. We have our first flat mooner!"

          Ignorance is a Harsh Mistress.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "There isn't much there to mess with."

        Soup!

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Joke

      RE: Potemkine!

      Cheeeeeeese Grommit!

      Wouldn't it be cheaper to produce cheese here on Earth, instead of mining it and sending it back to Earth?

    3. Jimmy2Cows
      Coat

      Yeah leaving huge piles of grey dust and rock, great big holes in the ground... shit like that would really spoil the moon.

      Poor efforts at wit aside, you make a valid point. Humanity hasn't got a great track record of careful exploitation. Who would enforce such rules though? It's frontier territory out there. We'd need some kind of space-based law enforcement. A "Space Force" if you will.

      1. overunder

        Ever seen that time traveling movie where a mining expedition on the moon goes horribly wrong and sends pieces of the moon into Earth causing an extinction event? That would never happen.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

          Space The Final....

          Sending chunks of Moon matter earthward, while the moon hurtles out of orbit (Hopefully without any planets in the path).

        2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Pint

          "Ever seen that time traveling movie where a mining expedition on the moon goes horribly wrong and sends pieces of the moon into Earth causing an extinction event? That would never happen"

          The Time Machine?

      2. Killing Time

        But you are right with your self declared attempt at wit.

        What can mankind do to make an object such as the Moon worse? It has no atmosphere to screw up, it has no seas to poison, it has no ecology to unbalance and if you wait a few months, an incoming meteor will do more physical damage than mining and drilling would do over decades.

        Let's think logically, not emotionally and not put barrier's in place where none are needed.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Let's think logically, not emotionally and not put barrier's in place where none are needed."

          Yes, this. There's geology there (Selenology?) but not much else. By the time we get the level of actually mining on the Moon to the extent that it becomes significant, I doubt that there'll be all that much more to learn that would be affected by the mining. The mining might even be helpful in that respect for getting deeper down.

        2. Spherical Cow

          "...not put barrier's in place where none are needed."

          What about apostrophes?

        3. M.V. Lipvig

          There actually is a logical reason for being careful about moon mining. The Moon is currently thought to be the reason Earth is habitable, by gravitational force. It causes the Earth's core to rotate within the planet, keeping the iron core molten. This rotational effect is what generates the Earth's magnetic field and keeps the solar winds from stripping off the atmosphere. Anyway, reducing the Moon's mass will lower its effect on Earth by both reducing its gravitational oull and causing it to spin away even faster than it already is. Currently the moon is moving about 3cm away from Earth each year. Less mass, same speed, this will increase until it's far enough away that it breaks away, then we're screwed.

          Initially it won't be a problem but smart humans will only take enough out of the Moon to get a mining base waystation set up, then will devise a way to bring safely asteroids to the moon for processing. Careful monitoring of the Moon's orbit after that will let us add or remove mass (over time) to keep the Moon a stable distance from Earth.

          If nothing is done, life on Earth will be gone long before the Sun envelopes us, it'll be gone shortly after the Moon disappears on us.

          https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/will-the-moon-escape-earths-orbit-in-billions-of-years.364921/ Or, maybe not. It'll be something for future boffins to worry about.

    4. deive

      I'd prefer we kept our home clean and liveable and f*cked up other rocks...

    5. tsf

      This seems continue the modern trend for woolly environmental thinking, please stop it!

      Exploitation and despoiling of environments only has meaning when there is an environment to despoil, with a balanced ecosystem, living creatures, plants and at a bare minimum, an atmosphere.

      Digging holes and moving minerals and elements from below the surface to the surface, even littering the place with junk, apart from being aesthetically displeasing, will have no effect on the moon in any way whatsoever.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        We could start dumping some nuclear waste up there , I saw a documentary on the feasibility of that use of space.

        1. Killing Time

          And what did the documentary say about the risk of getting the nuclear waste there?

          What was their assessment of the probability of smearing the waste across an ocean or landmass in the event of a launcher failure?

          There are documentaries and there are documentaries.....

    6. aks Bronze badge

      I assume they'll use the same rules as are in place for Antarctica.

  4. AGITA018
    WTF?

    I'm not a lawyer but....

    The goal is to shoot an Ariane-64 rocket carrying all the drilling equipment needed to the Moon before 2025.

    It'll have to be quite a long time before 2025 if they've signed a one year contract!!

  5. iron Silver badge
    Boffin

    a partner in global exploration

    So how does mining the moon help ESA explore Earth?

    Or did he mean lunar exploration? Idiot.

    1. Colin Wilson 2

      Re: a partner in global exploration

      " a partner in global exploration"

      He didn't say 'Terrestial Global' - he just said Global. So maybe he meant the Lunar Globe?

  6. oiseau Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Facing us?

    ... and with the dark side facing us.

    Hmmm ...

    I think not.

    The dark side (as in unknown side) is the hemisphere most of which is never visible from earth.

    It's where the alien overlords have their base.

    Cheers,

    O.

    1. Patched Out
      Facepalm

      Re: Facing us?

      Down-voted because in the context the term is used in the article it is correct. When looking at a "new" Moon, you are looking at what is currently the dark side - with the far side of the moon at that point being the lighted side.

      A double-D'oh to you!

    2. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

      Re: Facing us?

      At new moon, the side that faces the Earth is in the dark, hence "dark side".

      You must be confusing with the "far side" of the moon.

      Edit: Patched Out beat me to it.

    3. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: oiseau

      Lord, give me the same level of confidence of a random pseudonymous comment poster trying to, wrongly, one-up a professional astronomer.

      C.

    4. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Facing us?

      The dark side (as in unknown side) is the hemisphere most of which is never visible from earth.

      It's where the alien overlords have their base.

      No. At the risk of invoking Godwin's, it is where Nazis have their base. Just don't take a smartphone with you in case they try to use it to get the Götterdämmerung going.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Suuure, they will...

    If I had a dollar for every time someone said "in about 10 years we'll do [space thing]" and it didn't happen, I'd be able to buy my own Falcon Heavy/Crew Dragon flight to the Moon.

    On the bright side, Scott Manley talks about the projects monitoring Lunar impacts:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smp7TqccTpY

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Columbus and co.: We landed on a new place!!

    Europe: Let's rape a pillage it!

    527 years later...

    China: We landed on a new place!!

    Europe: Let's rape and pillage it!

  9. The Nazz Silver badge

    Deal with two problems with one solution (no puns intended).

    These rockets are big and powerful right?

    The Earth is soon to be experiencing catastrophic rises in sea level right?

    So, the next time a rocket goes to the moon attach a long, very long hosepipe to it to be towed to the moon.

    OK, ok, so there are some practical difficulties, reinforced pipe needed , a big bung at the space end sort of thing. Metering, gotta be a water company metering the outflow and charging the earth for it. Dip our end in fresh water eg the Great Lakes.

    ps with nuclear material why bury it on the moon, why just just fire it towards the sun or out into deeper space? It's not like it will be lonely out there, something will eventually want it.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Deal with two problems with one solution (no puns intended).

      I don't know about salt water freezing in space, but i'd imagine you'd need a powerful hoover to suck up water through a tube thousands of miles long.

      Then, with toxic waste, it's surely easier to dig a hole and bury it, than shoot it into space on a rocket.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Deal with two problems with one solution (no puns intended).

        "you'd need a powerful hoover to suck up water through a tube thousands of miles long."

        engineering 101 would say that you have to have a pump with a pressure of 1000s of miles of water. It's about 2 feet per psi so that works out to about 2500 psi per mile, or 2.5 million PSI for 1000 miles of water. Mutliply that out for 'thousands' and you have one HELL of a pump!

        However, as you get away from the earth, gravity diminishes based on 1/r^2. The earth is around 8000 miles in diameter, so 4000 mile radius. So at 4000 miles away from the surface, gravity actually drops by a factor of 4. And the closer to the moon you get, the more the moon's gravity will affect it, too. So now this becomes a calculus problem involving the total weight of a column of water several thousand miles long, and I don't want to do the math (though when you get to the point where moon/earth gravity are balancing one another, it's all "downhill" from there).

        /me points out you can't suck water past a vacuum, which would be around 30 feet of water. To get water to go up more than 30 feet, you either need capillary action [like in a tree], or a pump at the bottom.

        1. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

          Re: Deal with two problems with one solution (no puns intended).

          Sounds like a crossover between this and that.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Deal with two problems with one solution (no puns intended).

      "The Earth is soon to be experiencing catastrophic rises in sea level right?"

      WRONG.

  10. David Roberts Silver badge

    Small object impact?

    I haven't followed all the links, but I don't recall pictures of large object impacts lighting up shaded areas of the moon.

    Hopefully that means that big stuff in our relatively local area is not common.

  11. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Trollface

    Do they have...

    Do they have Brexit on the moon? No? Sign me up, I'm off to rob a few hedge funds.

  12. ukgnome Silver badge

    Something small hit the moon

    How do you like them space apples

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