Lunar Water Strip-Mines? (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Sun, 21 Nov 2010

Lunar Water Strip-Mines?

You may have seen the headlines a few weeks ago, when everyone was crowing "Water on the Moon!" after the LCROSS results were finally published. Turns out the moon is wetter than the Sahara (woo!) and all the news sites seemed excited about how we'd be using this for a lunar base. It only takes a ton of rock to get 11-12 gallons of water!

I wondered, am I the only one who thinks 12 gallons isn't very much? I couldn't help envisioning a tiny lunar base surrounded by acres of mine tailing devastation.

So I calculated how much rock it takes to make a ton (assuming basalt; lunar highland anorthosite would be a little less dense). Turns out it's not very much: a ton of basalt would make a cube about 8.6 feet on a side. So okay, I guess it would take quite a while to work up to those acres of devastation. It was an interesting calculation, anyway; rock is a lot less dense than I thought.

You can read the details in my SJAA Ephemeris column this month, Full of Moon.

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[ 18:55 Nov 21, 2010    More science/astro | permalink to this entry ]