So, How Long Until We Can Drink Moon Water? via anthony1966blog

We wont be drinking “Moon water” anytime soon.

When I heard that water was recently discovered on the surface of the moon, my first thought was, I bet it tastes great.

I’m not alone in this, right? As a water lover — yes, we exist — I’m always chasing what food critic Jeffrey Steingarten refers to in his 1997 book, The Man Who Ate Everything“that pure, clear, ethereal Alpine spring of our imaginations.” I picture moon water to be my ethereal Alpine spring: glacially cold and crisp; satisfyingly thirst-quenching; achingly crystalline.

Sadly, I may never know the joys of sipping on a refreshing glass of lunar liquid. The water isn’t hidden away in small ice-cold grottos tucked below the moon’s surface, like I was hoping. Instead, these water molecules are spread so far away from each other that they don’t even technically form a liquid. “To be clear, this is not puddles of water, but instead water molecules that are so spread apart that they do not form ice or liquid water,” Casey I. Honniball, the lead author of the study published in Nature Astronomy, said in a phone press briefing. A NASA press release stated that the Sahara desert has 100 times the amount of water than what was detected on the moon.

It will take scientists a long time to figure out how to gather up and mash together enough of those molecules to fill up the first Lunar Water™ bottle. (I think that’s how it’ll work, anyway.) Until then, here’s everything we know about the liquid that we really should be calling Moon Juice.

How exactly do we know that the moon is wet?

Scientists have suspected that there’s been water on the moon for a while now — they just didn’t know what kind: H2O (the stuff we drink) and hydroxyl (the stuff you find in drain cleaner). Big difference — and something you probably want to know before you take a swig.

That’s where NASA’s flying observatory, SOFIA, came in. (Yes, it took a womxn!). SOFIA, aka Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is a modified Boeing that NASA uses as an observational aircraft. It allowed the scientists to study the moon’s surface in more detail — using a six micron wavelength, versus the puny three micron wavelength they’d been relying on before. This confirmed that the chemical signature of much of what’s on the surface of the moon is, indeed, the good ol’ H2O, said Honniball.

Even better? That water is cold. Another study confirmed that ice covers more of the moon than we once thought. It’s not just sticking at the moon’s poles, but scattered in shadowed pockets across the moon’s surface.

Where does the moon water come from?

Okay, so we now know the moon is a WAPlanet. But how? “The water that we observed has two potential sources,” Honniball explained during the press briefing. “It could be either from the solar wind or micrometeorites.” In other words, solar wind could be blowing hydrogen to the moon, where it reacts with oxygen in the soil. It’s also possible that the micrometeorites themselves contain water molecules (always smart to travel with extra on hand) that they transfer to the moon upon arrival.

The existence of this water is very impressive: Honniball went on to say that the sunlit surface of the moon should be inhospitable to the water molecules, but that glass beads created by the micrometeorite impact may trap the molecules on the surface.

Why is moon water such a big deal?

Because we’re trying to set foot on Mars — and the moon is our layover, baby! “With the Artemis program, NASA will land the first woman and the next man on the moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence by the end of the decade. At the moon, we will prepare for human exploration of Mars,” said Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, during the press briefing. If we’re going to be spending extended amounts of time in space, having water at our destination would be incredibly useful.

“Water is extremely critical for deep space exploration. It’s a resource of direct value for our astronauts,” Jacob Bleacher, chief exploration scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said during the briefing. The hope would be that this water could serve many purposes. One day we might find a way for visiting astronauts to drink it, of course. But it could also potentially be used for fuel or to create oxygen.

All that matters because it would mean future space travellers wouldn’t have to lug so much water along with them, Bleacher said. “It’s far easier to travel when you don’t have to carry everything with you that you might need for the entire trip,” he said.

When can we drink moon water?

Unclear. “One of the things we don’t know yet is whether the water detected by SOFIA on the sunlit surface is accessible for use as a resource,” said Hertz. Right now, they don’t know how much water is there or where exactly it exists, but they’re starting by exploring the Clavius crater on the moon’s surface, which is one of the largest craters we can see from earth.

“At this location, the data reveal a water concentration of about 100 to 400 parts per million. That’s roughly the equivalent to a 12-ounce bottle of water within a cubic meter of volume of lunar soil,” Honniball said. But SOFIA only sensed the very surface, so it’s possible there could be more.

All that to say: It’s way too soon to speculate about when the first person will be sipping on moon water. But if someone is drinking it, it’s likely going to be an astronaut and not an influencer at Erewhon.

So… I probably shouldn’t buy that “moon water” I’m seeing on ebay?

The Moon Water you’re seeing might be the crystal-charged stuff, and if that’s what you’re looking for, more power to you. But no, we’re a long way out from seeing actual moon water taking its place next to Dirty Lemon and Blk. If you see anyone claiming to sell the stuff, you are officially in a suspicious corner of the internet. Put away your credit card and X out of the window.

Okay, okay — but please tell me I’ll one day drink moon water?

I know. I want to sip on that sweet, sweet moon juice, too. But even if scientists figured out how to turn the stuff that’s on the moon into drinkable water and bring it back to Earth, whether or not anyone is allowed to sell the stuff is up for debate.

NASA, along with eight other spacefaring nations, signed something called The Artemis Accords. The agreement confirms that the space agencies are committed to peaceful exploration; it also provides some legal frameworks around how moon research should be conducted. But according to CNET, Russia and China didn’t sign the Accords, and the agreement also doesn’t “explicitly prohibit the commercialisation of water and other material mined on the moon.”

So… maybe, someday, you’ll be able to quench your thirst using the nectar of Luna for a significant chunk of change, but I’m not holding my breath.

Mirel ZamanRefinery 29 UKWed, 28 October 2020, 7:52 am GMT When I heard that water was recently discovered on the surface of the moon, I’m not going to lie: My first thought was, I bet it tastes great. I’m not alone in this, right? As a water lover — yes, we exist — I’m always chasing what food critic […]

So, How Long Until We Can Drink Moon Water? — anthony1966blog

You Can See Venus and Jupiter Come Very Close Together Tuesday Night — TIME

The two planets will appear to be a double star to the naked eye

via You Can See Venus and Jupiter Come Very Close Together Tuesday Night — TIME

This is how astronauts celebrate Thanksgiving in space

Happy intergalactic Thanksgiving!

Americans don’t have to be on Earth to get a day off for Thanksgiving. In a video published Monday, NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly spoke about their plans for the holiday.

“We’re gonna have the day off, which is great. We’re gonna watch some football,” said Kelly. Usually, the schedules of the International Space Station (ISS) crew are packed with science experiments and ISS maintenance work, among other things.

“We’re also gonna have a little Thanksgiving dinner of space food,” said Kelly. “We got some turkey, it’s smoked turkey. And some candied yams here. Some rehydratable corn and some potatoes au gratin.” Space.com notes that the two plan to share their traditional meal with the other, non-American members of the crew. Which is nice, except it all looks like paste. And neither could keep a straight face as they dug in.

“Wow,” Kelly said, biting into the yam, “they are delicious.” The yam does not look delicious.

Still, the astronauts seemed to be in good spirits when they spoke about what they’re thankful for this year. Lindgren said he was thankful for his friends, family, and NASA colleagues, adding that he’s grateful for his stint on the ISS:

We are incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be up here on the International Space Station, working and living in this amazing orbiting laboratory, a physical manifestation of what is possible when the great countries of the world work together with communication, cooperation and collaboration towards peaceful means.

Kelly spoke about his love for America, and how it feels to learn about Earthly tragedies from space:

Being on the space station here and looking down at our incredibly beautiful planet gives us a different perspective on what it means to be citizens of planet Earth and since I’ve been up here, we’ve seen so many bad things that often happen down there… it just makes me really thankful to live in a country like the United States that provides us with freedom and opportunity. For me, being a middle class kid from New Jersey, to just have the privilege to come up here and represent my country like this. So this is what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, astronauts.

 Related

Apollo 16: “We Like Big Rocks”

April 1972: The fifth pair of astronauts to visit the moon were the most enthusiastic geologists, bringing home the largest sample ever collected from the moon.

Apollo 16 launched on April 16, 1972 as the tenth crewed Apollo mission, and the fifth to land on the moon. Astronauts John W. Young and Charles M. Duke Jr. spent 71 hours on the lunar surface They completed 20 hours and 14 minutes of moonwalks during three extra-vehicular activities, including driving 26.7 kilometers (16.6 miles) in their lunar rover around the Descartes and Cayley formations. Along with installing a ultraviolet stellar camera on the surface, the duo collected 95.8 kilograms (209 pounds) of lunar samples. In an echo of geologists everywhere, they couldn’t seem to restrain themselves to just the small samples and collected the most massive lunar sample of any Apollo mission.

Apollo 16:

Big Muley is one hefty rock! Image credit: NASA

Lunar Sample 61016 masses a mighty 11.7 kilograms (26 pounds). The rock bares the nickname “Big Muley,” named for Apollo 16 field geology team leader Bill Muehlberger. Found on the east rim of Plum Crater, researchers suspect it was actually ejected during the impact that formed South Ray crater. The rock is a breccia: a sedimentary rock composed of primary large, angular smaller rock fragments cemented together. The exposed top surface is rounded with a thin patina and micrometeorite zaps; the rest was protected by being buried within the lunar soil. The melted shock fragments within the rock date to 3.97 billion years ago.

Apollo 16:

David White [left] and William Muehlberger [right] admire the largest lunar sample ever returned, Big Muley (sample 61016). Image credit: NASA

While Young and Duke were busy on the surface, Thomas Ke Mattingly II observed the moon; during the return trip to Earth he and Duke ducked outside for a one-hour spacewalk to retrieve film cassettes from the exterior. The crew returned to Earth just over 11 days after launching, splashing down on April 27th.

Apollo 16:

Duke and Mattingly (wearing Young’s striped helmet) spacewalking to inspect the Service Module and retrieve film. Image credit: NASA

The mission wasn’t without its hitches. It was the first Apollo mission to be delayed for technical issues, then a fuel tank was damaged during a routine test in the months leading up to launch, requiring replacement. Once the crew reached Earth orbit, the third stage booster developed an attitude control system problem that required in-flight fiddling to fix. The Lunar Module Orion started shedding paint peeling off the aluminum skin, although the astronauts decided it was cosmetic after closer inspection. Soon after, Mattingly spotted a gimbal lock warning light that the spacecraft wasn’t reporting attitude, so had to reorient the guidance system using the Sun and Moon instead.

Apollo 16:

Lunar Module Orion with Young and Duke on board, heading up to rejoin Mattingly on Casper, their Command Service Module. Image credit: NASA/Thomas K. Mattingly II

The next day, Young and Duke boarded Orion and peeled off for their decent. The lunar module’s engine backup systems malfunctioned, and error that should’ve scrapped the moon landing. Instead, mission controllers determined a workaround, descending to the surface just six hours behind schedule. This squeezed the surface mission schedule, and cut the final moonwalk by a few hours to accede to the demands of both orbital dynamics and sleep.

Apollo 16:

Young and Duke during a simulated traverse in a training area at the Kennedy Space Center. Image credit: NASA

[NASA | NASA | NASA | Lunar Sample 61016 Gallery]

Top image: Duke [left] and Young [right] on a two-day geology training field trip near Los Angeles. Credit: NASA


Contact the author at mika.mckinnon@io9.com or follow her at @MikaMcKinnon.

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Female astronauts will spend 8 days in space without men or make-up

The test and flight simulation project, named “Moon-2015”, is designed to simulate an eight-day round trip to the moon, reaching lunar orbit before returning to the Earth. The all female astronaut crew asked how they’d cope in space without men or make-up for 8 days:


The Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBP) in Moscow began an all-female simulated lunar circumnavigation project on Wednesday, as the country’s space program looks to take off.

The test and flight simulation project, named “Moon-2015”, is designed to simulate an eight-day round trip to the moon, reaching lunar orbit before returning to the Earth.

An all-female crew will live inside a mock spaceship in a wood-paneled suite at the IBP to gather information on female responses to isolation, cohabitation, crew functionality, and other characteristics of spaceflight. Capture2.PNG

The six volunteers selected from IBP staff, have strong scientific, medical or research backgrounds and have similar medical, physical and physiological characteristics that would be required of a real space crew.

“Our special psychologists have communicated with all the volunteers. Certain methods have been used to test their character compatibility which is quite a concern for the qualification examination committee,” said Alexandr Smoleevskiy, a Russian physiologist involved in the project.

The participants, who have already been undergoing training ahead of the test, said their biggest challenge will be shutting off from the outside world. One crewmember said she felt fortunate as their project lasts only eight days, far less than Russia’s previous “Mars-500” project which concluded in 2011 after 520 days.

“I can’t imagine working in isolation for even 80 days. We have spent a whole day in the capsule to test the devices in a space environment and get familiar with our living conditions and we already felt the impact of being isolated. We wonder how the participants in the “Mars-500″ were able to finish their mission,” said Elena Luchitskaya, a volunteer of the “Moon-2015” project.
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Source: Female astronauts asked how they’d cope in space without men or make-up

Every Black Hole Contains Another Universe, Claims New Study

SOMEONE SOMEWHERE

In modern science, the prevailing opinion supposes that whatever falls into a black hole disappears forever and breaks apart into the component parts. However, a new theory states that black holes do not destroy the matter but rather are a kind of exit gate which lead to other universes just like our own. The new theory was developed by Jorge Pullin of the State University of Louisiana and Rodolfo Gambino of the University of the Republic of Uruguay. The two scientists decided to study the predictions of the theory of quantum gravity in black holes. More specifically, they applied the equations of quantum gravity in a non-rotating black hole with spherical symmetry.

Every Black Hole Contains Another Universe, Claims New StudyAs described in other theories, as the matter approaches the core of the black hole, the gravitational field becomes more and more powerful, but it does not disappear into a spacetime singularity as the prevailing theory states. According…

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Mars Rover Opportunity Suffers Worrying Bouts of ‘Amnesia’

vyagers

Problems with NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity‘s flash memory have intensified over recent weeks, so Discovery News Space Producer Ian O’Neill spoke with NASA Project Manager John Callas about the severity of the glitches, how they’re affecting Opportunity’s mission and how his team hope to find a fix.

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