In the future there may be mining on the Moon and even on Mars. The only problem will be how to obtain the water ice that all living organisms need for respiration. It is believed that if humans can survive on the surface of Mars than they may have a chance at harvesting the water hidden deep inside the lunar soil. There have already been some preliminary experiments with water drilling using the Swiss Alps.
The big question is whether humans will be able to extract enough water to survive. If they can, then we will have found another way to mine the Moon. This technique would be to use liquid water, instead of the air or space dust. Also the equipment used would be much smaller than what we use now. The drilling of tiny holes may not be too difficult, but extracting large volumes of water would be a different story.
Another idea is to use astronauts to drill holes and scoop up the water. It sounds like a very simplistic idea, but many of the moon missions landed by the space shuttles contained water. Unfortunately, we do not know if any of it was actually stocked on the moon. Although we know that we once mined water on Mars, it has since been returned to Earth. So, NASA may not be able to secure the water. And even if it could, it might be too heavy to be carried back to the moon.
Another option would be to make use of the astronauts cold suits as an ice harvesting vehicle. However, it would be difficult to get the water from the astronauts. There is also the problem of how to keep the astronauts warm in a vacuum while drilling into the ice. Many believe that this would be an expensive way to go mining for water on the moon. If not made from water-based compounds, it might also be very difficult to drill into the ice.
As a last ditch effort, some NASA scientists have come up with a new idea. They believe that they can recycle the water which is gathered from the moon’s poles into usable water for human consumption. This would eliminate all concerns about contamination with recycled water. It also allows people to have more control over how much of the moon’s water is actually yours. The only problem with this new method of collecting water would be the cost.
One suggestion that has been floating around is using liquid gravity based systems. These would allow astronauts to “mine” lunar rock using nothing more than gravity. The theory is that if you can find a way to push an immobile object down, then you can use the same technique to push up on an immobile object. The theory is that if you have enough material to fill a void, then you have a way to move objects without using energy. Since this theory has not been proven, NASA has not taken such a step with their plans to mine the moon.
When planning their missions to collect samples of the lunar soil and gather the moon’s ice, NASA scientists have also put together a plan that will use a new technology that has not been used before on another planet. They plan to use a lunar vacuum or an inflatable probe to land and “seal” a large area of land in the moon’s equator. Once the researchers think they have covered the area, they will then use a series of cameras to take high-definition pictures of the area and send them back to Earth. This will give scientists the information they need to start learning about the makeup of the moon and what kinds of minerals are located where on it. This technology, called Laser Range Ionization Mass Spectrometry (LORAS), could revolutionize space exploration.
Although NASA has not made any official plans to mine the moon’s water, it is clear that space exploration enthusiasts would be willing to explore such a prospect. There is much interest in this subject among space enthusiast groups and some of them even have fundraising efforts. Mining the moon’s water would provide an enormous source of revenue for NASA as well as private companies willing to develop the technology necessary to mine the water. Some people are even talking about putting solar panels on the moon to harvest the energy from the sun in order to power up such machinery as ice mining equipment.
Provided by Antonio Westley
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be seen as an overview of this subject and not a reflection of viewpoints or opinions as nothing is definitive. So, make sure to do your research and feel free to use this information at your own discretion.