Sunday, July 8, 2018

Trump’s Plan To Return To The Moon, Mine It For Resources, Won’t Harm It, Says Space Specialist

Don't expect to see smokestacks on the lunar surface when you look through your telescope.

Returning to the Moon and mining it for resources won’t ruin the view of our only naturally satellite, a space specialist writes in .

The Trump administration announced in mid-June that putting humans on the Moon again should be one of our space-exploration priorities. As reported by the , the Moon is rich with resources that could be used to make rocket fuel, which could then be useful in making a trip to Mars. In short, the Moon is being eyed as a sort of “pit stop” for future Mars missions. And of course, those resources mined from the Moon could be returned to Earth and put to use here, writes lunar expert Paul D. Spudis.

To that end, the Trump administration is interested in going there again – but it was to put robots up there first.

So will putting spacecraft, and even possible permanent colonies, on the Moon, and mining it for resources cause any damage to our satellite? Will it change the view, turning our celestial neighbor into a field of mine pits and smokestacks?
Pavel Chagochkin/Shutterstock
No, says Spudis.

For starters, says Spudis, the most promising areas of the Moon for mining and possible habitation are the poles.

Those polar regions are permanently dark, and thus will escape the notice of Earthlings.

Even so, if we put up a mining operation directly on the Moon’s equator, on the side that Earthlings can see, all but the most powerful of powerful telescopes wouldn’t be able to notice even the slightest difference. Any human-made buildings or excavation would have to be several kilometers wide for even a powerful scientific telescope to pick it up.

What’s more, the type of mining that will be done on the Moon isn’t the type that requires large-scale digging, creating giant pits. Spudis explains quite a bit of the science involved, but in short, it would be done almost entirely on the surface or not more than a few meters below it.

In other words, there will be no smoke billowing up from the surface, polluting the sky, nor will there be smokestacks. Long story short, whatever we eventually do on the Moon will likely do only minimal and superficial damage to our only natural satellite.

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