Watch 4.5 Billion Years of the Moon’s Evolution in 2.5 Minutes.
YouTube: “From year to year, the moon never seems to change. Craters and other formations appear to be permanent now, but the moon didn’t always look like this. Thanks to NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we now have a better look at some of the moon’s history. Learn more in this video!” (more…)
Over at Centauri Dreams, an article by Marc Millis was posted that goes through decade by decade of an optimistic, albeit fictional, account of events and discoveries to come.
This decade basically covers humans getting over the stigma of space travel and nuclear propulsion, something I also hope comes to pass. Like they say, time heals all wounds.
In the 20s and 30s Marc leads us through exo-planet discoveries that show evidence of life and how Universities and other institutions get in on space discovery through the use of ever advancing robotic probes, all the while trying to improve Earth’s own environment and sociology. Artificial Intelligence is being used and humankind extends it’s reach as far as the Moon. All the while we are applying what we learn in space to improving life on Earth and the Earth itself.
The 40s sees the rise of the Moon and Mars colonies. AIs become self aware, but have no interest in being the instrument of mankind’s annihilation. Instead they speed themselves out through out the solar system’s planets, some even stay on Earth to assist humanity in their own self evolution. By the end of the decade humans finally crack the propellantless space drive problem as well as make physics discoveries that enable the engineering of artificial gravity fields that don’t rely on centripetal effects. This effectively opens up the solar system to us; interstellar travel is just a little behind.
By the 50s, humankind is constructing colony ships to take them beyond the constrains of our local system. One is being sent to Destiny, the planet discovered in the 20s that harbors life and can sustain humans. We also begin the transformation to non-biological entities known as transhumance that don’t have the basic human body frailties but still have the drive, inquisitiveness and basic instinct of the human mind.
This is an optimistic future for our species and we are seen thriving, venturing out into the Universe, exploring and growing. I’ve always taken an optimistic view of what we will become, something very different than what we are now. I hope you find the time to read this piece.
I love love love these photos of Laurent Laveder playing games with the moon. Below are a couple of my favorites. But be sure to check out the web site, there are dozens more.
Naveen Jain, a billionaire who made his fortune at Microsoft, is co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, Inc., a company looking to capitalize on the vast resources that the moon has to offer. Just awarded $10 million by NASA, has ambitious plans; to build moon bases in order to mine the lunar surface.
Available resources that can be mined from the moon:
- Titanium: the moon has 20 times the amount on Earth. Titanium is a light but strong metal used in the construction of airplanes, automobiles, marine and space ships, and is widely used in the medical community because it is non-toxic and is not rejected by the body. The titanium on the moon is in the form of ilmenite, a substance that is a source of something that would be very useful on the moon: Oxygen.
- Platinum: the moon has more that Earth and it’s easier to get at. Platinum is a valuable metal that is used as a catalyst, jewelry, electronics, and magnets.
- Helium 3: an important fuel for practical fusion reactors; very rare on Earth.
- Manganese: Essential to steel production and aluminum alloys. Also used in alkaline battery production.
Tony’s note: Here’s what I don’t get. If Jain is a billionaire, NASA’s $10 million should be a drop in the bucket, right? If he was really serious, he could lend Moon Express half a billion dollars and let them show us what they can do. I also think he is oversimplifying the magnitude of what he’s proposing. Maybe he’s just dumbing it down for the layperson.
NASA just published their 38 page Global Exploration Roadmap, a document that outlines their plans for the next 25 years. The document was developed by the ISECG, made up of 14 space agencies throughout the world, including NASA (US), the ESA (Europe), UKSA (UK), CNSA (China), and Roscosmos (Russia).
Some of the stated goals include extended human presence and exploration in space, engaging the public (that’s us!) in exploration, and the search for extra-terrestrial life. The human presence in space strategies all have the ultimate goal of a manned mission to Mars.
Two mission scenarios outlined are the “Asteroid Next” and “Moon Next”, which include a human mission to a near-Earth asteroid in about 20 years, and the most exciting prospect, a deep-space habitat (DSH) by 2034. See the roadmaps below for more information.
Near-Earth asteroids require true deep space missions, free of Earth’s magnetosphere (deep space radiation environment), with only limited opportunities for abort.
The moon missions include the first human-scale robot on the moon to help explore the prospects of using the technology on the greater goal of exploring Mars.
Robotic missions will continue to play an important part for exploratory missions, but there seems to be a lot of emphasis placed on human exploration. This comes as a welcome sign of things to come to those who dream of one day seeing a human presence on a distant world, specifically, Mars.
Nontraditional propulsion technology will also be tested. Two technologies referred to in the document are high-power electric (ion) and nuclear propulsion. These propulsion techniques would be used in space and not for lift-off, where more traditional liquid fuel rockets would be needed to provide the thrust required to get payload into space.
Stay tuned for part 2, where we explore some of the missions and technologies involved more in-depth.