Comments for en-gb 30 Fri 03 Jul 2015 12:40:26 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at RevJohn Mr. Amos says: "Any humans that lived on the surface for long periods would have to have effective measures to deal with the dust, not just to protect their well-being but to maintain their equipment in good working order." I would have thought that this isn't even a question. Save for massive volcanic eruptions, demolitions of human-built artifacts and bush and forest fires - all temporary and local exceptions to the general rule - we have a perfect example of how dust can be dealt with on a planet humans should be quite familiar with. In a word: moisture. Even after the events I just mentioned, rain will usually rapidly turn the dust into mud and wash the mud away. Keep the air in the airlocks wet, damp, soggy and moist; wash down anything coming into the cities from the naked surface and dust just isn't an issue. It's worked on Earth for four milliard years, there's no reason why it shouldn't work on the Moon, with a little help from human technology. "A Fall Of Moondust", A. C. Clarke. It's a very good read and it does describe the lunar dust and how it was thought to behave quite elegantly. (I'm surprised it has yet to be majorly Hollywooded, it is a better story than most big budget films carry.) It also mentions, repeatedly, *why* moondust behaves unlike terrestrial mud. It is too dry to stick together, to form mud, clay and soil. Moondust is tiny, tiny rocks that can be picked up by miniscule static charges. Like bits of paper attaching themselves to a rubbed balloon. Add to that the ease with which it can flow into lungs and anywhere else air moves and you have a dehydrated destroyer that is almost the exact opposite of a lubricant. Yet it is so easily dealt with. Rain. Or showers. Anything that must stay outside? Coat it in jelly or soft rubber, or just let it wear, or make it as near solid-state as possible. As a more permanent cure, one could always terraform the entire planet. Not a cheap solution, but greening Luna would be fun. Are trivial little issues like this *really* considered to be major problems by the "rocket scientists", NASA and ESA's best and brightest? If so, could I recommend they hire someone who sometimes gets outdoors for a spell? For a gigantic ongoing fee, I'm quite happy to consult... The important point is humans would *not* be living on the current lunar surface. They might drive over it, do selenology on it, mine it and start building on it but they would live in cities... With many bathings. Tue 03 May 2011 18:26:00 GMT+1 Milly This post has been Removed Mon 02 May 2011 01:23:24 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth I've just realised there's a problem with ESA's plans. You say that they cannot get RTGs to power the probe in darkness, and also that the scientific attraction of the poles is examining lunar ice in situ. But of course the probe is going to need those RTGs if it's going to get at the ice, because the ice is in permanent darkness!I agree with SONICBOOMER, #14. In fact, I proposed just such a plan for a sustainable return to the Moon in an evening lecture at the BIS a couple of years ago. Basically, it involves building up a commercial personal space exploration industry in low Earth orbit. That creates lots of self-supporting infrastructure, much more efficient (safer and cheaper) access to orbit, and an industry harvesting the water of near-Earth asteroids for radiation shielding and in-orbit propellant manufacturing feedstock. From this a system of Earth-Moon cyclers grows, devoted primarily to large-scale tourist flights. Government explorers can then get most of the way to the Moon on scheduled commercial services. Obviously this takes a few decades to build up, but in my view it's the only way human access to the Moon can become affordable and sustainable.StephenOxford Tue 11 May 2010 17:51:52 GMT+1 SONICBOOMER Much as I would have loved to see the Constellation effort get men back on the Moon by 2020 (which it was not going to get close to it seems), what would have happened next?To provide even a semblance of a base there, getting there based of launching two rockets, one very large, each time, would have run into the financial/political sand.So it seems only some kind of Earth orbital based Lunar tug and lander, with this in orbit refueling capability being talked about possibly too, could suffice - but what about the system of getting the crew into LEO to reach the tug/lander hardware? Has to be sustainable and cost effective too.When on the surface, our Lunar explorers there for an extended time, need protection from radiation-cosmic and solar flare generated, meteorites, saying the whole time in a weight limited module launched from Earth, won't suffice.The need for a rescue capability too.In the wake of Constellations demise (in truth probably inevitable after the 2008 economic meltdown regardless of the occupant of the White House), new thinking is required for a sustained Human Lunar presence. Sat 08 May 2010 22:58:59 GMT+1 philtower Terry (#12), thank you for your post, which is very informative. The advantages I had in mind for Moon-based telescopes were, as you mention, lack of atmospheric distortion and radio interference. Certainly cost would be prohibitive and may not be justifiable given adaptive optics and other such advances. If cost wasn't such an issue (perhaps far in the future!), large telescopes on the Moon would certainly give some interesting results. Fri 07 May 2010 10:29:47 GMT+1 Terry Gush Lunar based telescopes may seem appealing, but what types of telescope gain practical advantage from being situated on the Moon?If a radio telescope, then to be worth the trouble, it would have be offer an improvement on the sensitivity of the Square Kilometre Array to become fully operational by 2022 at a cost of 1.5 billion pounds. The power and maintenance requirements of the many component scopes in the array would be highly problematic if sited on the Moon. So the SKA, probably to be sited in an uninhabited Australian desert, will stand alone as the most powerful radio telescope for many generations.If an infra-red telescope, then you might have to build it at the bottom of a polar crater to avoid over-heating the cryogenics and loss of sensitivity during the Lunar day. If so, this hampers your field of view making the telescope of limited scientific use and so Sun-Earth-L2 remains the preferred location for these instruments e.g. Planck and the JWST.If an optical telescope, then even with a segmented mirror, something with the sensitivity of one of Keck telescopes will involve hauling 300 tons in kit form to the Moon which in turn necessitates a custom heavy lift rocket and/or many space flights. The main appeal of a Moon based optical telescope might be to avoid the distorting effects of Earth's atmosphere, but the advent of adaptive optics has meant there are many ground based optical telescopes that out perform HST. Future optical targets will include hunting for spectra of Earth sized exoplanets. This mission will is best achieved with the angular resolution offered by interferometers such as the Space Interferometry Mission to be launched in 2015. If your going to send such telescopes into space, it is unclear that the surface of Moon gives a cost or performance advantage over being stationed at LEO or an Earth-trailing heliocentric orbit.The idea of telescopes on the Moon may have appeal, but any proposals will have to out perform current projects on a dollar per gigabyte of high quality science data collected, and it is there that Moon based telescopes seem die on the drawing board.Thanks Wed 05 May 2010 18:34:42 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Thank you, Callisto, #9, for your interesting comments about the Space Propulsion conference. I have a question for you. You talk about the concerns being discussed there. But what is the context of those discussions?Are they based on the assumption that all relevant flights are operated, at extremely low launch frequencies, by space agencies in pursuit of science and spinoff? (As is clearly the case in Jonathan's European Geosciences Union conference.)Or are they based on the concept of a growing space infrastructure serving large-scale personal spaceflight ("space tourism") and orbital manufacturing in addition to government science? In such a scenario, technologies from the growing commercial markets (e.g. reduced cost to orbit) would also have an impact on government exploration missions beyond LEO.Thanks.StephenOxford Wed 05 May 2010 15:13:16 GMT+1 philtower When (not if I hope) there are eventually "Moon bases", a major objective should be operating large telescopes there. Wed 05 May 2010 14:28:30 GMT+1 callisto I am currently at the Space Propulsion conference in San Sebastian and there is a lot of talk about future exploration and the propulsion systems that will enable them. There are representatives from the US and JAXA, as well as ESA and plenty of European entities.Although propulsion may not be regarded as pushing the envelopes of space endeavour, it is a fundamental part of any mission (orbital, exploratory or otherwise) and it is reassuring to see so much innovation in such a mature discipline.There is a lot of talk of new development, re-application of existing technology and learning lessons: evolution of the European launcher stable, low-cost missions, the usual debate on 'green' propellants and the usual tussle between chemical and electrical propulsion for attention.But there is also serious discussion about international co-operation to meet growing mission requirements and cost, especially concerning missions to Outer Planets.There is also a real fear that the engineers and scientists that we will need for this future are simply not showing up. Of all the concerns raised and discussed at conferences around the World, this single point is a show-stopper and we must find a way to reverse the trend. Wed 05 May 2010 08:11:41 GMT+1 Ian Crawford This post has been Removed Wed 05 May 2010 01:35:13 GMT+1 Terry Gush Some quick points,Please stop building Landers to collect science samples, if it's not Rover, the science data you recover is limited and random according to where you land.Lunar based solar power won't have a future until terrestrial solar power is widespread. Even then, it will be proceeded by LEO solar power if that ever happens.Arguments that the moon is necessary to test technology can be construed as arguments to de-orbit the ISS.Thanks Tue 04 May 2010 19:45:21 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Jonathan, thanks. Clearly the workings of Europe's space bureaucracy are an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a black hole!Stan, #4, I find your comment hard to understand. Bush's VSE, as realised in NASA's ESAS, was based on precisely the short-term space spectacular mentality which you decry. Hence the close resemblance of Constellation to Apollo. What Obama is doing, it seems, is trying to help a broad-based manned spaceflight industry get off the ground -- the "proper re-usable space technology and infrastructure" that you're thinking of. See the comments of the Space Frontier Foundation in support of Obama (, I don't think that by mentioning manned flights to an asteroid and to Mars, Obama is playing the space-exploration-by-tossing-a-coin game (today we'll have a vision to fly to ... the Moon / the asteroids / Mars / Phobos and Deimos -- see recent article in New Scientist by Stuart Clark on Phobos and Deimos).The flights that Obama mentioned in his speech would not take place until well after he had left office. I think I am correct in regarding them as window-dressing, a crumb of comfort for NASA employees to distract them from the fact that his plan, if it succeeds, will break their institutional monopoly on manned spaceflight in America.The question for us is whether Europe will wait for the Americans to open up the space frontier in this way before dipping a European toe into it. Clearly, any European initiative will come from the private sector, as Sir Richard Branson has demonstrated. Europe's space bureaucracy is presumably institutionally incapable of thinking in terms of the sort of progress needed -- the commercial applications of manned / lunar spaceflight -- to harness the resources of space for human benefit. But then, they're a puzzle wrapped in ...StephenOxford Tue 04 May 2010 16:35:53 GMT+1 Jonathan Amos @Stephen. Thanks as ever. It's an issue of timescales. Europe will not have mature RTG or RHU systems in place early enough in the planning process for incorporation in the lander. This may seem like a simple thing to solve in eight years, but those who know how Europe works and the sensitivities that surround plutonium technology understand that such matters are never so straightforward. Tue 04 May 2010 15:09:08 GMT+1 Stan I think near future manned space exploration should be confined to the Earth-Moon system.We need to develop proper re-usable space technology and infrastucture. We'll never progress in any significant way until we have space launched vehicles that achieve much better payload ratios and larger ships.LEO and Lunar bases are a necessary first step in this.President Obama's vision is typical of US politicians looking for short term space spectaculars. We've already seen where that leads - 'go to the moon once and forget it' syndrome. Tue 04 May 2010 14:55:00 GMT+1 Rob M Lets hope we go back to teh moon to stay.It would be great if we could have an ESA moon programme maybe in collaboration with the Russians and others. As a follow on from the ISS it makes sense and keeps the momentum going in the final frontier.And to those who like their space tourism just think what it would be like to visit teh international moon base!lets hope this time there's a great big beautiful tomorrow waiting for us all ! Tue 04 May 2010 14:27:38 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth What we need to see here is a coherent strategy for Europe.Any new large-scale space programme has basically three users: space tourism, space-based solar power for transmission to Earth, and government space science. The last of these also represents the smallest likely demand.Use of the Moon fits in nicely with govt science and with construction of solar power satellites, but until the ISS partners can demonstrate rising use of low Earth orbit for private visitors, lunar tourism is premature.We really do need to get away from this stifling attitude that manned/lunar/planetary spaceflight can only ever be about science/prestige/spinoff for the foreseeable future.If ESA wants to go to the Moon, then fine, but they must present a clear strategy. For example, lunar resources may be of great assistance in setting up space solar power -- but then lunar exploration must proceed in parallel with a relatively small-scale test of a system launched from Earth (e.g. 10 MW, 10 billion dollars/euros, 10 years, as proposed by the recent (Oct. 2007) Pentagon National Security Space Office study. Given the panic about continued fossil-fuel burning and the certainty that global human demand for energy will rise very substantially over the next 50 years, I cannot understand why space agencies are not already giving this high priority. (As I've said before -- sorry!)Regarding your reporting of the lunar polar lander, the obvious comparison is with the Surveyor series of the mid-1960s. Critical to our understanding of this project is the number of landers likely to be launched. There were 7 Surveyors, sent to different parts of the Moon, of which 2 failed, as I recall -- clearly, a polar lander by its very nature will want to be sent to at least two surface locations, and surely ESA has learnt from the Beagle 2 fiasco that one-off probes are too great a risk.I fail to understand your comment that Europe cannot build a lander to survive the lunar night, because it doesn't have the power systems to last overnight, and then link that to a story by yourself of a year ago with the news that Europe has begun development of exactly those systems!StephenOxford Tue 04 May 2010 13:34:13 GMT+1 Eastvillage President Obama is very intelligent. He went to the best schools.He is also proving through his actions what a small minded man he is. Tue 04 May 2010 11:12:17 GMT+1