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Dr. Arlin Crotts, Monday, 2-16-15 February 17, 2015

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Dr. Arlin Crotts, Monday, 2-16-15


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Guest:  Dr. Arlin Crotts.  Topics:  Lunar exploration, commerce, & human development in addition to many related topics.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See http://www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

We welcomed Dr. Arlin Crotts back to the show to discuss his new book, “The New Moon: Water, Exploration, and Future Habitation” plus lunar related science and development issues & concerns. For more information, visit Dr. Crotts website, http://user.astro.columbia.edu/~arlin/research.html.  In the first segment of our 93 minute program, I asked Dr. Crotts to summarize lunar science and development progress since his last appearance on TSS, Oct. 27, 2009 through today.  Dr. Crotts had much say in this summary, especially with lunar water, hydroxyls, minerals, LCROSS, volatiles, and more.  Don’t miss this summary. Listeners asked many questions about INSITU Resource Utilization on the Moon, polar ice, water ice, volatiles, fuel possibilities, and more.  I asked if he had detected an increase in the public’s awareness of the Moon and many of these issues plus I wanted his thoughts on the private sector commercial opportunities and plans opening up for the Moon.  The balance of this segment featured calls and listeners emails asking about the lunar poles, volatiles, craters & the Resolve Mission.

In the second segment, Dr. Crotts was asked about the Lunar Mission One Kickstarter project and their wanting to drill 100m into the Moon.  Dr. Crotts did not comment on the project but did talk about why we needed more and deeper lunar drilling exploration.  Our guest also talked about his book in detail in this segment, saying it was very detailed, well documented and supported, and that readers would learn things about the Moon not previously known or written about given his access to original lunar exploration and Apollo documents.  Other topics in this segment addressed humans to Mars or the moons of Mars, the timing of human lunar settlement which he supported but not until we know much more about the Moon to do it safely and correctly.  We talked about this approach in some detail.  Space settlement was discussed and he said it would happen sooner or later but that we needed more lunar science first before we settled the Moon.  Near the end of the segment, Dr. Crotts was asked about NASA’s ARM project.  Space mining came up and then just before the program ended, Eric inquired about Transit Lunar Phenomena (see http://user.astro.columbia.edu/~arlin/TLP).  Tim was our last caller asking about the use of RTGs.  Dr. Crotts talked about reactors on the Moon and mentioned the smaller Toshiba 4G reactor.

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.  You can reach Dr. Crotts through his website or me.


1. lunarush - February 24, 2015

Lunar Mission One (launch.lunarmissionone.com) was mentioned by a caller. Lunar Mission One is planning to do geologic research on the moon by drilling a +20m bore hole. The mission, in major part, is to be funded by selling “digital memory boxes” that will be buried in the bore hole at mission end. The “digital memory boxes” totaling “tens of terabytes” are to be stowed in a “time capsule” that will be sealed in the bore hole. As of now the data storage is probably a fraud; an impossibility.

The primary feature of a Time Capsule is that it will not be opened for a long time. A usual Time Capsule feature is the contents are accessible without exotic equipment by the future openers. Some difficulties of Time Capsules explored here: http://www.si.edu/mci/english/learn_more/taking_care/timecaps.html & partners.nytimes.com/library/magazine/millennium/m6/capsule-panel.html,

Lunar Mission One glaringly omits mentioning when the Time Capsule opening is anticipated. Since the Time Capsule will include customers’ DNA, implied is the opening will be far into the future. For discussion purposes let’s pick a geologically trivial period of 2000 years. Nowhere does Lunar Mission One mention even a hint of any digital media that could survive with data intact even the trivial period of 2000 yrs. Assuming such digital media can be invented, how will the digital data be “read”? I know of NO digital device with a 2000 year warranty.

Today, even only 900 year old English (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beowulf) is unreadable by all but classical scholars. How will the language barrier be crossed for the nominal non-English reading opener?

2. DougSpace - February 23, 2015

I think that prospecting and commercial exploitation of the Moon can occur somewhat simultaneously. First of all there is some development work that should be done regardless of our level of understanding of the physical nature and distribution of lunar polar ice. For example, we are going to need a lunar lander regardless of where it is going to go. We also need communications, distillation, and electrolysis systems. Also, we need to get started with the development of habitat design, 3-second-delayed telerobotic covering of the hab with dirt, telerobotic spares swapping, life-support systems, and operational procedures. By the time these are completed then we could be getting back prospecting info from several different lunar sites which would inform the selection of competing ice- harvester designs.

DougSpace - February 23, 2015

Also, I should add that ice harvesting is major for propellant would be a comets game-changer yet it is not completely essential to the establishment if a lunar base. It’s that, without in situ propellant production, it will take more flights, money, and time.

3. Andy Hill - February 21, 2015

I don’t understand why the US has such a problem with exploring the moon. Anywhere else seems a bit of a stretch, especially for humans, and with the rest of the world wanting to go there it seems a bit of a no brainer for international cooperation.

With regard to sending rovers there to be tele-robotically controlled from Earth I was wondering whether creating a list of all the cancelled projects would be useful. Some of these might have produced instruments or hardware that could be recycled into a new lunar rover rather than gathering dust on a shelf in some university somewhere.

jimjxr - February 21, 2015

The Moon was excluded from the destination list in order kill Constellation and prevent the nutjobs in congress from resurrecting it. Once the commercial space industry is strong enough to prevent a repeat of Constellation, the Moon can be put back in the list, it won’t be long now.

jimjxr - February 22, 2015

The Moon is excluded from the destination list in order to kill Constellation and prevent the nutjobs in congress from resurrecting it. Once commerce space industry is mature enough to prevent a repeat of Constellation, the Moon can be put back in the list, it won’t be long now.

Andy Hill - February 22, 2015

If Killing constellation is the reason for not having the moon as a destination, it didn’t work very well. all that happened was they tweaked it a bit and called it SLS.

4. Robert Walker - February 18, 2015

Oh, just one very minor point I might have mentioned if emailing during the show – I think the asteroid miners do have a point with platinum. the iron meteorites are as rich in platinum etc as the richest ores on Earth – whatever mechanism it is that formed the iron meteorites has obviously managed to concentrate these.

But – those also surely not unique to asteroids. They must have impacted on the Moon as on Earth so presumably if you know where to look you can also dig up platinum / iron meteorites through lunar mining.

5. Robert Walker - February 18, 2015

Hi, great show, and I learnt many new things from listening to it. And good to hear someone saying that we need to find out more about the Moon first before we do commercial exploitation, and that it is just too soon to know what to do and whether it would interfere with science. After all as you say if there is, for instance abundant water available underground in some sunlit regions of the Moon, they might not need to go to the poles at all, with its much tougher conditions.

And I’m also concerned about the effect of rocket exhausts on the fragile lunar atmosphere. Great answers there, about how can we know details about how the water and other volatiles accumulate for instance, except by studying the lunar atmosphere “as is”.

One thing I’d have asked if I was able to listen to it live. Do you know anything about the idea that we might find organics on the Moon brought there by debris from impacts into Early Earth. Some scientist have said that we might even find bits of ammonites and so on, on the Moon in debris from meteorite impacts on Earth. And when you start thinking that way – so many impact craters on the Moon, and some of them surely results of impact of debris from giant meteorites hitting early Earth – surely there must be some organics on the Moon from those impacts.

The lunar poles seem a particularly good place to look for them, as if buried deep they’d be protected by the cold conditions there and the overlaying layers of accumulated ice, and might well have almost pristine organics from the early Earth.

So anyway I’ve seen speculations that we might find meteorites from Early Earth o the Moon and organics also, but not seen that much in detail about it. Wonder if you have any thoughts on that yourself?

And – could it be that through micrometeorites there could even be widespread layers f organics so you just need to drill down to the right layer to find it? Say after some really big impact on Earth sending debris that gradually hit the Moon over periods of thousands of years?

If so, then the Moon could be as interesting for life almost as Mars – to help fill in the missing gap of the early stages of evolution, even back to before the earliest common ancestor of all modern cells to lifeforms too small to contain all the machinery of modern life – and to give us actual organics from later stages as well, could revolutionize biology quite possibly.

Anyway so that was it just wondered if you had any thoughts on that.

Thanks, for a great show!

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