Posts tagged water
Lunar Polar Ice Everywhere, but Only on Surface

An international team of Chinese, American, and Russian scientists may have conducted the most extensive study of lunar Permanently Shadowed Region (PSR) ice yet performed. By comparing the reflections from flat surfaces in major PSRs to those of adjacent non-PSRs, they determined that the vast majority contain ice. However, the ice appears to be restricted to the uppermost surface.

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Why the Lunar South Pole?

NASA was recently directed to return to the Moon by 2024, an announcement first made in remarks given by Vice President Mike Pence at the 5th meeting of the National Space Council on March 26th. However this huge announcement and acceleration in schedule also came with another set of exciting details. He stated, the “lunar South Pole holds great scientific, economic, and strategic value” and that “when the first American astronauts return to the lunar surface, that they will take their first steps on the Moon’s South Pole.” But why the focus on the Moon’s south pole? He explored that as well, saying that we will “mine oxygen from lunar rocks” and “use nuclear power to extract water from the permanently shadowed craters of the South Pole”. These statements are exciting because they specifically include the use of in-situ resource utilization on the Moon, and select human landing locations near the South Pole due to proximity to those resources.

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Adam Hugomoon, nasa, isru, water, topComment
Impacting Lunar Polar Ice

The permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) at the lunar poles represent prime locations for finding high concentrations of water bearing material on the Moon. Even though PSRs have been remotely observed for the past few decades, much is still unknown about these areas. Key questions include the origin of the ice, how extensive it is, and how it changes over time. A recent model addresses some of these questions by predicting how long near-surface ice should exists before being sublimated away.

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Modeling Ice in Asteroids

A key appeal for processing water from asteroids as opposed to the Moon is the low delta-V required to get to and from them. However, this assumes that water rich asteroids come near Earth. Scientists from the Planetary Science Institute have recently developed an analytical model that can help estimate if some near-Earth objects (NEOs) contain water ice.

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Propelling Demand for Space Water

Water is the first resource many in the space resources community are targeting for exploration and utilization missions. Not only is water abundant throughout the Solar System, but it is one of the most useful resources. Its uses include the creation of propellant and oxidizer, use in chemical processes, and as drinking water and breathing oxygen for astronauts. Water is the oil of space. Similar to how oil drives terrestrial economies, water in space will propel the space economy, literally and figuratively.

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Martian Glaciers, Plentiful and Accessible

Mars is a treasure chest full of resources. Of all the available resources on Mars, water is the resource with the greatest utility. Aside from the possibility that it can contain extra-terrestrial life, it can be used for creating fuels and oxidizers, drinking water, agriculture, chemical processes, and more. The key question to resolve is: Where on Mars can we find large quantities of water that are easily accessible? Martian glaciers at mid-latitudes hold promise for being that ideal source.

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Potential Equatorial Liquid Water on Mars, Causing Slope Streaks

Humans are fascinated with Mars, our closest Earth-like planet. With nearly 30 successful missions to Mars over the past five decades, one may assume that we have discovered all there is to know about Mars' surface. This is far from true as the mysterious surface slope streaks show. These features differ in size and shape, and seem to appear at random times and places. Scientists think they form via a wet or dry process, although it could be both. If a wet process causes them, this could have far reaching implications for finding extraterrestrial life on Mars and for future resource utilization missions.

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ESA Study of Water Extraction from Lunar Regolith

The Moon is becoming the proving ground for many space organizations. The European Space Agency (ESA) has awarded a contract to study and prepare for an all-European mission to the Moon. If developed, this would be ESA's second mission to the Moon. The most exciting aspect of this proposal is its intent on demonstrating the extraction of water and other volatiles from lunar regolith. Importantly, this recent award further demonstrates Europe's commitment to space resources.

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Mining Thousands of Tons of Space Ice with Queen Bee

TransAstra Corporation proposed a spacecraft able to deliver five-thousand-tons of water-ice to cislunar space per two-year mission. This is the largest amount of delivered water ice proposed from any active group. They call their system the Queen Bee. It is part of the Asteroid Provided In-Situ Supplies (APIS; Apis) architecture. Queen Bee is a large scale version of their asteroid mining spacecraft design.

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Exploring the Kilometer Deep Ice in Korolev Crater

Korolev crater is an 81 km diameter impact crater located near the Martian north pole. It is unusual because it contains year round water ice even though it’s located further south than the perennial ice stability line. Recent Martian missions have investigated this crater, uncovering some of the mysteries hidden below the ice. Korolev may be an ideal location for a future water extraction system. It contains enough ice to make such a mission worthwhile.

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