Author Topic: Best use for the Moon?  (Read 9893 times)

Offline redliox

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Best use for the Moon?
« on: 09/14/2016 09:33 PM »
There's pros and cons for venturing to different bodies of the solar system.  In the Moon's case, an obvious pro is it's nearby and a con is it's water-poor (sans perhaps the poles, but we're debating if the water's easily extractable).  I'm putting down a thread so Lunar supporters can discuss what'd be the best general purpose for the Moon regardless of SLS, ARM, and Mars.  The Moon is always going to be our immediate neighbor regardless whether NASA ventures to it.

The best use for the Moon, in my opinion, is science; particularly astronomy.  There are resources on the Moon and it is a more useful environment than open space (LEO or interplanetary), but compared to Earth and Mars it's nasty and bone dry.  However, the lack of an atmosphere and its moisture is useful for all forms of astronomical research.  It's probably cheaper to put satellite telescopes in orbit, but the Moon is stable and a human presence offers possibilities including longevity.

Add you own thoughts; I will elaborate on my own later regarding why I believe the Moon is a boon for astronomy (although there's more it can be utilized for).
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Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #1 on: 09/15/2016 06:23 AM »
The gravity well and Lunar dust probably makes the Moon a poor site. L-2 is probably the best place for space telescopes.
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Offline RonM

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #2 on: 09/15/2016 01:38 PM »
The gravity well and Lunar dust probably makes the Moon a poor site. L-2 is probably the best place for space telescopes.

True, but the Moon is a great place for radio telescopes. Placed on the far side, the Moon will block radio signals form Earth. Early systems can be cables rolled out on the lunar surface. Steerable antenna can be very large with the Moon's low gravity.

Once metal needed for construction is manufactured on the Moon building large radio telescopes will be far cheaper.

Online Bynaus

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #3 on: 09/15/2016 01:53 PM »
- regolith dust for in-space manufacturing (source of Al, Ti, U, Th, some other elements typically found in lower abundance in asteroids)

- Radio telescopes and other science (e.g., archive for Earth fragments; solar observation from peaks of eternal light, etc.)

- volatiles for fuel in cislunar space and beyond

- tourism

Perhaps (forbidden by outer space treaty now, but who knows...), military (missile) bases.

Perhaps, gravitational anchor point for asteroid resource retrieval.

Plenty of stuff to do!

Offline KelvinZero

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #4 on: 09/15/2016 02:40 PM »
My pet idea is a "robotic colony" to experiment with ISRU and teleoperated industry (probably at the lunar poles)

My particular scheme to fund it:
* NASA creates a market for cargo delivery, paying say $0.25b/year, hopefully getting 2-3 alternate services.
* NASA does NOT pay for or specify cargo. Instead it hands out transport to the moon as the prize for the most interesting/useful project. Some sort of panel or voting system would give more points to projects that enable other projects, eg solar power, general purpose rovers, communications.

Companies and Universities recoup their investment from the prestige, just as car companies invest in Formula One. Ideally you want people who already have an interest in this field (solar power, robotics or whatever) and an intention to commercialise it.
Some portion of the cargo would also go to paying customers. similar to CubeSats. This could be businesses that print messages into the regolith or perhaps just some scientific instrument, along with renting time on one of the general purpose rovers to deploy it.
Possibly at some point paying customers would take over from NASA funding or fund additional landers.

Offline jstrout

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #5 on: 09/24/2016 12:35 AM »
I'd say the best use for the Moon is as a tourism/entertainment center.

I'm thinking about lunar sports, like swimming, where with fins a good swimmer could leap 5 meters out of the water.



Similarly, gymnasts could launch themselves high into the air, and do amazing spins and whatnot on the way down.  Diving.  Ballet.  Maybe even strapping on wings and flying (though I haven't had much look finding detailed calculations about that).

All of that with good video production should generate some substantial revenue.  And then, of course, you have (initially) billionaires and (later) millionaires who want to go just to go.

Yes, these activities require a fairly big pressurized space.  Perhaps you could start smaller and work your way up to the larger venues, bootstrap-style.  Initially just do a reality TV show about half a dozen people living and working on the Moon, in a rough first-generation habitat.  I would certainly watch that.  I'd clear my schedule for it weekly (or daily if available), and go buy the products advertised in the commercials, too.

Offline guckyfan

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #6 on: 09/24/2016 06:41 AM »
The gravity well and Lunar dust probably makes the Moon a poor site. L-2 is probably the best place for space telescopes.

True, but the Moon is a great place for radio telescopes. Placed on the far side, the Moon will block radio signals form Earth. Early systems can be cables rolled out on the lunar surface. Steerable antenna can be very large with the Moon's low gravity.

Once metal needed for construction is manufactured on the Moon building large radio telescopes will be far cheaper.

That's probably true if metal production is established for other reasons. I doubt that establishing it for just a radio telescope is cost efficient.  A radio telescope can be shielded from earth in L2 and as it is in space it needs a lot less structural mass than even in low moon gravity. It can also be directed easier and in a wider range without concern for bending forces.

Offline Darkseraph

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #7 on: 09/24/2016 07:45 AM »
A research park to test out various propellantless propulsion techniques like mass drivers, sky hooks, space elevators and laser-pushed light sails.

The lower gravity and lack of an atmosphere is some advantage for these schemes.
"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." R.P.Feynman

Offline RonM

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #8 on: 09/24/2016 01:49 PM »
The gravity well and Lunar dust probably makes the Moon a poor site. L-2 is probably the best place for space telescopes.

True, but the Moon is a great place for radio telescopes. Placed on the far side, the Moon will block radio signals form Earth. Early systems can be cables rolled out on the lunar surface. Steerable antenna can be very large with the Moon's low gravity.

Once metal needed for construction is manufactured on the Moon building large radio telescopes will be far cheaper.

That's probably true if metal production is established for other reasons. I doubt that establishing it for just a radio telescope is cost efficient.  A radio telescope can be shielded from earth in L2 and as it is in space it needs a lot less structural mass than even in low moon gravity. It can also be directed easier and in a wider range without concern for bending forces.

Yes, relatively cheap radio telescopes on the Moon assumes a local presence with some manufacturing capability. Fixed radio telescopes made by rolling out cables on the surface can be much larger than anything in space because they won't need support. Then again, if there is anything to the theory of the electrostatic levitation of dust during certain times of the lunar day, maybe rolling out kilometers of conducting cables isn't a good idea.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_soil#Moon_dust_fountains_and_electrostatic_levitation

Offline IRobot

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #9 on: 09/24/2016 09:02 PM »
The gravity well and Lunar dust probably makes the Moon a poor site. L-2 is probably the best place for space telescopes.

True, but the Moon is a great place for radio telescopes. Placed on the far side, the Moon will block radio signals form Earth. Early systems can be cables rolled out on the lunar surface. Steerable antenna can be very large with the Moon's low gravity.

Once metal needed for construction is manufactured on the Moon building large radio telescopes will be far cheaper.
The same argument could be done for Phobos or Deimos, with the difference that the delta-v requirements would be less and that telescope structure could be far lighter due to lower gravity.

Offline gbaikie

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #10 on: 09/25/2016 12:53 AM »
The gravity well and Lunar dust probably makes the Moon a poor site. L-2 is probably the best place for space telescopes.

True, but the Moon is a great place for radio telescopes. Placed on the far side, the Moon will block radio signals form Earth. Early systems can be cables rolled out on the lunar surface. Steerable antenna can be very large with the Moon's low gravity.

Once metal needed for construction is manufactured on the Moon building large radio telescopes will be far cheaper.
The same argument could be done for Phobos or Deimos, with the difference that the delta-v requirements would be less and that telescope structure could be far lighter due to lower gravity.
The moons are tidally locked to Mars but they turn relative to Sun, Earth, and Universe.
Phobos orbits Mars every 7.65 hours.
The Moon turns every 28 days, relative to Sun, Mars and Universe.
A large radio telescope near Mars, could useful to send tighter signal and receive weaker signal which if
had Mars settlements, which could reduce radio signal pollution in the solar system. Though probably want them in Mars L-4 and 5 which because widely spaced, allows allow more radio traffic when Mars is on another side of the Sun relative to Earth.

I think the Moon would good place to put Earthling optical telescopes, though, other then the signal delay, could also work with Mars or it's moons.
A thing about making large projects is one probably use a lot of teleoperation. One might have 100 hours of teleoperation per hour of non teleoperation activity. Or earth labor costs are relatively cheap, so you use that labor whenever possible.
The other side of it, users of lunar telescope could buy time at modest price- per minute or hour. And one wants a large amount of time to sell.
The Moon compared to Earth would have more time to sell per day/year.
One could have smaller telescopes in various locations- though one need a source of electrical power.
So a large telescope needs electrical power, so could have smaller telescopes in same area using the same source of power needed for larger telescopes. Or where ever there is source of dependable electrical power, one put telescopes.

Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #11 on: 09/25/2016 01:12 AM »
I'd say the best use for the Moon is as a tourism/entertainment center.

I'm thinking about lunar sports, like swimming, where with fins a good swimmer could leap 5 meters out of the water.



Similarly, gymnasts could launch themselves high into the air, and do amazing spins and whatnot on the way down.  Diving.  Ballet.  Maybe even strapping on wings and flying (though I haven't had much look finding detailed calculations about that).

All of that with good video production should generate some substantial revenue.  And then, of course, you have (initially) billionaires and (later) millionaires who want to go just to go.

Yes, these activities require a fairly big pressurized space.  Perhaps you could start smaller and work your way up to the larger venues, bootstrap-style.  Initially just do a reality TV show about half a dozen people living and working on the Moon, in a rough first-generation habitat.  I would certainly watch that.  I'd clear my schedule for it weekly (or daily if available), and go buy the products advertised in the commercials, too.


You forgot sex.

Offline Bob Shaw

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #12 on: 09/25/2016 01:14 AM »
The gravity well and Lunar dust probably makes the Moon a poor site. L-2 is probably the best place for space telescopes.

True, but the Moon is a great place for radio telescopes. Placed on the far side, the Moon will block radio signals form Earth. Early systems can be cables rolled out on the lunar surface. Steerable antenna can be very large with the Moon's low gravity.

Once metal needed for construction is manufactured on the Moon building large radio telescopes will be far cheaper.
The same argument could be done for Phobos or Deimos, with the difference that the delta-v requirements would be less and that telescope structure could be far lighter due to lower gravity.

The Moon is also. from time to time, within the Earth's magnetotail and also looks out through the various L points. Like everything else, pristine is relative...

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #13 on: 09/25/2016 01:15 AM »
"Moonlight"...that's all I got... Coming up on 50 years since we first landed no one has made an economic/scientific case worth the expenditure so far...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
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Offline scienceguy

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #14 on: 09/25/2016 01:17 AM »
A research park to test out various propellantless propulsion techniques like mass drivers, sky hooks, space elevators and laser-pushed light sails.

The lower gravity and lack of an atmosphere is some advantage for these schemes.

One more vote for the laser-pushed lightsails
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Offline Phil Stooke

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #15 on: 09/25/2016 01:50 AM »
"...the Moon is a great place for radio telescopes. Placed on the far side, the Moon will block radio signals form Earth...

... The same argument could be done for Phobos or Deimos ..."

Phobos and Deimos are in no way shielded from radio signals to and from Earth, given all we have going on at Mars these days.  And if we were in a position to put radio telescopes near Mars we would be doing even more there.  So the lunar far side remains uniquely shielded in that respect.  There have been proposals to protect a zone of the central far side for that purpose.  But all the talk about L2 stations, far side elevators and so on will not fit with that scenario. 

Best use for the Moon? I would go with the first post, best use is science, but focus on geology and geophysics rather than astronomy, and then throw in technology testing and development as well.

Offline VIY

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #16 on: 09/25/2016 03:18 AM »
High energy physics. Earth is getting too crowded for these toys, and open space has its own issues, like micrometeorites, thermal environment, lack of support structure, etc.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #17 on: 09/25/2016 06:10 AM »
High energy physics. Earth is getting too crowded for these toys, and open space has its own issues, like micrometeorites, thermal environment, lack of support structure, etc.

No way.  Large colliders are huge and need an enormous amount of maintenance.  They'd be many, many times more expensive on the moon, and for no real benefit.  I don't know where you got the idea that Earth is "too crowded" for them, but that's not true in any way.  The LHC was built underground, as are all big colliders.  You can build a large collider underground virtually anywhere on Earth.

Offline ChrisWilson68

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #18 on: 09/25/2016 06:16 AM »
The best use I can think of for the moon is as an archive.  We can put documents and artifacts underground on the moon and they'll last millions of years.  A lot of previous civilizations have had their remains purposely destroyed by other cultures after they were gone.  An archive on the moon would be immune from that except by space-faring civilization, who would hopefully be less likely to want to destroy evidence from the past and more likely to want to learn from it.

We could even potentially build a long-lived transmitter to continuously broadcast the archive data on a loop, so future civilizations wouldn't have to reach the moon to learn from it.

Offline Saage

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Re: Best use for the Moon?
« Reply #19 on: 09/25/2016 09:57 AM »