Can NASA's Artemis moon missions count on using lunar water ice?

This article raised several issues in my mind.

One was the idea that a 'water tower" could be created on the Moon with a "Starship" cargo acting as a water tank. It seems to me that it would take a lot of specialized engineering to be able to have a "water tower" sitting on the Moon's surface - I would expect it to freeze solid and maybe rupture unless heated continuously and well insulated. I would expect an underground tank to be a better choice, both for the thermal reasons and to try to avoid a tank-draining meteroid impact.

Another area of wonder concerns how we would transport human explorers around such difficult terrain on that part of the Moon's surface, so that they could investigate the water and other materials trapped in shadows and buried in regolith on steep slopes and at the bottoms of deep craters. We can't use helicopters on the moon - no atmosphere. So, it would be either surface crawlers or rocket propelled transporters - maybe jet packs or "LEM-like" rocket hoppers. Both seem to be potential disrupters of the frozen gases that the explorers would be seeking to discover and carefully analyze.
 
Nov 20, 2019
61
11
4,535
Visit site
This article raised several issues in my mind.

One was the idea that a 'water tower" could be created on the Moon with a "Starship" cargo acting as a water tank. It seems to me that it would take a lot of specialized engineering to be able to have a "water tower" sitting on the Moon's surface - I would expect it to freeze solid and maybe rupture unless heated continuously and well insulated. I would expect an underground tank to be a better choice, both for the thermal reasons and to try to avoid a tank-draining meteroid impact.

Another area of wonder concerns how we would transport human explorers around such difficult terrain on that part of the Moon's surface, so that they could investigate the water and other materials trapped in shadows and buried in regolith on steep slopes and at the bottoms of deep craters. We can't use helicopters on the moon - no atmosphere. So, it would be either surface crawlers or rocket propelled transporters - maybe jet packs or "LEM-like" rocket hoppers. Both seem to be potential disrupters of the frozen gases that the explorers would be seeking to discover and carefully analyze.
the use of a water tower landed from earth reminds me the novella "the martian way" by asimov, describing the rage of earthlings about the waste and robbery of water for use as propellant by space merchants
 
Dec 6, 2019
15
1
4,515
Visit site
The exhaust from hydrogen-combustion engines is water. How much hydrogen could be extracted from Lunar soil? If enough could be extracted to run these engines for power on Luna, Is there enough volume of H2O exhaust from these engines to be useful?
 
You would also need oxygen to run any sort of engine on hydrogen. So, just extracting hydrogen from lunar soil doesn't get you anything useful (unless you have a not-yet-invented fusion reactor that will run on light hydrogen).

The idea of extracting water is that you get the product of combustion, and use solar energy to separate it into the hydrogen and oxygen that you can then combust as rocket fuel.

So, you are really running the rocket on solar energy - it is stored in the propellant and oxidizer.

Of course, collecting rocket exhaust to use the water for some other purpose is not likely to be feasible, considering how hot it is and how fast it is moving, not to mention that the rocket is going somewhere else during the process.

The rational way to use hydrogen and oxygen to generate power would be with a fuel cell. Again, water would be separated by using solar power, and then the energy is stored until needed and used in the fuel cell as needed.
 
The slow development of industrial-scale extraction will be due to superior extraction techniques always expected. They are leaving old scrolls entombed in a China cave until a particle beam that can read ashes is perfected. There is recycling of mine tailings in streams across the world this century at often 19th century mine towns with water. I expect enough water for a chopper drone to be partially powered and the rest saved except for researching how to later extract it. All it takes is one good hidden recent comet to add to the proven reserves. I can see advantages for decontaminating comets in space. Any water near Earth to Belt orbits could even be bottle rocketed to Cis-Lunar orbit. I imagine plans for belt water run into perpetual collisions cutting the life of most projects short.
 
...I suppose they will have digging technology in 25 yrs. In 40 yrs I'm sure we will deliver water from the outer solar system. Maybe 2055 for starting industrial extraction of 10% of it? I can do a GPR CIS-lunar-based satellite observatory to look for buried crashed comets. But if they are deep I can't drill out more than a narrow core. The dust is useful for tele-operating in any similiar environment we find; we might find commonalities where environment are healthy enough to work a semester on but not live. We can crew around with tethers and wires and spider legged skyscrapers on there for future bodies's proto-typing but it is dangerous.
 
I can make water from a handful of ingredients (maybe next century industrially) in vacuum. Hydrogen gas and oxygen gas are two of the precursors. If one is on the Moon it is useful and table-top R+D might be this century. If the Moon is a test for structures above dust, heavy G objects would require higher towers. I see the value of craters at either pole for longer wavelength observatories, the same field of view is mostly there as the Moon turns. I don't read particle beam R+D. But digging a hole with a particle beam is safe in a crater. If a deep deposit is found that might be the only way to get it any time soon. It is nice to get above the terminator for some stuff. The Moon maybe be asbestos infections very light. You might serve at soupy Enceladus still but it may commit you to a career away from the healthy destinations until treatments are found.
 
I've tried to equate cosmic ray fluence of AECL irradiator reactors and the Lunar Surface. The Moon is a good source at the poles, so I'm wedded to NASA's search for water. Voyager is a couple hundred times weaker past the heliopause, so you get a plant research dose in a few hours. It may be a day on the Lunar surface. Samples are there for the USA to collect. I intend my satellite R+D to be in the northern Washington border. My payload is 1/2 water for a while...
(Addenum: I'd guess most silica worlds near their star and without a magnetic core or thick atmosphere get the dusty and dry pan treatment. As useful as water would be a lunar brick made without water. My biolistics is more likely to succeed if there are bricks with little tubes exposing to cosmic rays a seed. Radishes and aloe vera look good to give the astronauts the finished product two years after. Canada may be ready for plant satellites in two decades. It would be nice to know on the Moon how important directional radiation sources are. The irradiator gets 1/2 the radish specimen improving it, the lower level constant radiation paper I read did not result in better specimens. I imagine NASA would get 80% of the IP and one of Musk's two latest rockets would lift the water from Earth. I suspect the near the ice Lunar sites will accrue expertise for successful water mining later, a dry comet maybe.)
 
Last edited:

Latest posts