Moonbase: In the Dark On Lunar Ice

Moonbase: In the Dark On Lunar Ice

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 26 December 2006
05:53 am ET

NASA is on a flight path to replant astronauts on the Moon, looking to sustain a human presence on that cratered, airless orb on a “go-as-the nation-can-afford-to-pay” basis. That approach is seen as letting people step back onto the lunar surface no later than 2020.

Space engineers have honed in on one possible site for a lunar outpost: the Moon’s south pole. It’s a tactical setting on the rim of Shackleton Crater, a feature some 12 miles (19 kilometers) in diameter. There’s real estate here that basks in near-perpetual sunlight. Also, it’s a region that is a doorway into the depths of always dark, Sun-deprived, territory.

What’s possibly lurking there in that super-cold darkness is water ice—portrayed by some researchers as the gold standard for future exploration on and from the Moon. Yet there is considerable debate about this resource. If there, such a raw storehouse might be processed into usable oxygen and hydrogen.

Experts have been chipping away at the water ice on the Moon issue for years.

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