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Benefits of a Lunar Base

  1. Oct 26, 2011 #1
    I am curious to know what would be the benefits of a Lunar Base?

    I know that some benefits include the harvesting and possible use of Helium 3 for nuclear fusion energy. In addition it would help further the progress for space travel that will sometime in the future lead to traveling to other planets in the future.

    I know that the most abundant material is silicon, however I heard it was unsuitable for earth transportation from someone. Is this true?

    What else there?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 27, 2011 #2


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    As far as I know, the benefits you touched on are the main ones. In all honesty, I believe the main benefit is to future space travel. The prospect of a cheap and abundant fuel is mostly a sidebar, thrown in to gain the support of commercial backing.
  4. Oct 27, 2011 #3

    D H

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    An observatory on the far side of the moon could be incredibly beneficial to astronomy. The moon essentially has no atmosphere, it provides stable base upon which a suite of telescopes could be built, and those two week long lunar nights would have an incredibly dark sty.
  5. Oct 27, 2011 #4


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    That's certainly an excellent point, but I wonder if any studies have been done regarding a cost tradeoff of building a good-sized moon-based telescope vs a bigger and better Hubble Space Telescope with multiple spectrum capabilities. Just off the cuff, I would think the satellite telescope would be more cost effective for equivalent capabilities.

    The moon based one would need to include a series of signal repeaters (not all that expensive) to get commands around to the dark side and to get the data back (this is assuming it's not a manned base which would be WAY more expensive) and it would suffer slightly from the several second round trip lag in command/feedback signal. It would also suffer from the vastly increased cost of repair/refurbishment.

    Anyway, an interesting thought.
  6. Oct 27, 2011 #5
    Easier space travel I can understand...

    But why would you EVER want to mine the moon for resources????? Why would you want to mess with the mass of the moon?

    Isn't it sort of... Oh I don't know... Essential to how we live here on Earth?
  7. Oct 27, 2011 #6


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    I don't think it's conceivable that we could remove enough of the moon's mass to make a difference. If we remove one part in a million, that would be approximately 100,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms. Kind of hard to see how we could remove that much. Besides, where would we put it :smile:
  8. Oct 27, 2011 #7
    Just trying to take into consideration that humans do have a tendency to overdo things over time.

    I'm sure we could find a way to use it.

    EDIT: Didn't we think the same thing about oil?
  9. Oct 27, 2011 #8

    D H

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    Because they're useful. Better put, they have the potential to be useful (and we won't mine those resources unless they are useful).

    The cited resource was Helium 3. Even if we could take all of the Helium 3 on the surface of the Moon, we wouldn't "mess with the mass of the moon" by one iota.

    Suppose we found the moon has a goodly amount of resources that hard to come by on the Earth and are also more massive than helium 3. We still wouldn't be "messing with the mass of the moon." (And besides, ripping an M-type asteroid to shreds would probably be a better of those resources.)

    You are leaping to unfounded conclusions here. Jumping from mining Helium 3 to destroying life on the Earth is a bit of a leap.

    Do the math. I don't think we could.

    Non sequitur.
  10. Oct 27, 2011 #9
    Because it is much easier to lift material from Moon into space than from Earth. Furthermore the Moon has ore deposits that we only can dream of on Earth (e.g. for titanium). Everybody who wants to build a lot of big space ships and stations should think about mining the moon. But this requires a sufficient degree of automation or telerobotics because due to the deficiency of hydrogen Moon is not very suitable for manned infrastructure.
  11. Oct 27, 2011 #10
    I believe a recent probe also found indications of water well below the surface. There was also some recent thoughts about the great usefulness of lunar caves for bases. Tangential I guess.
  12. Oct 27, 2011 #11
    Practice for building bases elsewhere, like Mars - I'm guessing there was in fact some sort of life there, maybe there still is underground somewhere, but we probably won't be able to find irrefutable evidence of it unless we have boots on the ground. Whether or not this endeavor is worth the cost is debatable, but certainly finding life somewhere other than on Earth would transform our entire view of ourselves and the universe around us.

    Mining the moon for materials seems outrageously expensive unless it's to build spacecraft or gather spacecraft fuel and launch from the moon. Going to the moon, mining (say) titanium, and then bringing it back to Earth will probably never come within orders of magnitude of making economic sense, vs. just mining it on Earth or just not using titanium and using something else instead.
  13. Oct 27, 2011 #12


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    Earth is essential to how we live here on Earth.

    All other things being equal, which would you rather mine?
  14. Oct 29, 2011 #13
    So the gravity of the moon effecting Earth doesn't affect on life on Earth?

    I think I was looking on a longer timescale though, and assuming that we found a great general use for Helium 3 where we would have consistent mining of it (hence the oil reference aforementioned), while also mining the water below the surface of the moon. But I dunno the timescale that would be needed to make any sort of difference in the mass of the moon and how much of an effect that would have on Earth's life.

    But this is kinda moot by this point. I can understand D_H's point.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
  15. Oct 29, 2011 #14


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    Uh. If you're thinking in terms of removing enough mass from the Moon somewhere else on a scale large enough to affect the Earth, you take optimism to a whole new level.
  16. Oct 30, 2011 #15


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    A robotic base might make sense, a manned base would be illogical. It's just too damned expensive to rocket a biosphere to the moon, much less other planets. It's not about what is possible, it's about what is economically justifiable. Someday we may be able to send out colonies, but, today is not that day.
  17. Oct 30, 2011 #16
    I agree. Though from what I've read, there would be enough material on the moon for a robotic base to eventually create a manned space without transporting any biosphere there. But man being man and needing to see a Neil Armstrong in the mix, I'm guessing that if we go, then a manned base would arrive sooner than later.
  18. Oct 30, 2011 #17
    This is probably the most obvious thing to say, but I'll mention it anyway.

    Alot of fule is lost when space craft try to leave the atmosphere and break away from gravity. Building a space base on the moon would reduce this and it could serve as a gateway to the rest of the solar system.
  19. Oct 30, 2011 #18


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    Just what I said in post #6
  20. Oct 30, 2011 #19
    ummm... in space :biggrin:
  21. Oct 30, 2011 #20


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    Not fair. It's ALREADY in space (as far as we are concerned). I think we need to check out some of those reality TV stars ... "something housewives" and see have they got some extra room in their shoe closets.
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