With China going into space, it looked as if there might be a conflict over ownership of the moon. However, now it's been discovered that it will be impossible to use the moon as a base for space travel or for mining the valuable elements there, because it has almost no water. This is tragic, since the moon contains an element that could solve our oil shortage and greenhouse gas problems.
Charles Arthur writes in The Independent that scientists once thought there was ice at the poles and on the side of the moon which always faces away from the Earth. But new research shows very little ice there. Spacecraft can visit the moon and make limited stays there by bringing?or making?their own water (as the International Space Station does), but long term habitation or industrial use is impossible without a large source of water there.
Space scientist Ian Crawford says, "Water is useful for three reasons: you need it to drink, you can split it using electrolysis powered by sunlight to get oxygen to breathe, and you can recombine its hydrogen and oxygen to create a rocket fuel. Any water at all is extremely helpful if you're setting up a Moon base."
Researcher David Rothery says, "This finding does make colonization of the Moon that much harder."
It remains to be seen if China will announce a change of plans due to this new finding. Chang'e I, China's moon project, aims to map the lunar surface, searching for good landing and base sites. Next, it plans to discover what elements are there and how they?re distributed. The man element they're searching for is Helium-3, which is rare on Earth but plentiful on the moon. In space.com, Julie Wakefield describes it as the perfect fuel: potent, nonpolluting and non-nuclear. There's enough Helium-3 on the moon to power the Earth for thousands of years.
Researcher Gerald Kulcinski says, "Helium-3 could be the cash crop for the moon. When the moon becomes an independent country, it will have something to trade." Helium-3 would have a value of $4 billion a ton.
Instead of announcing NASA's return to the moon, in order to reassert our rights there, as George Bush is expected to do in an upcoming speech, perhaps we should let China claim it and try to find a way, despite the water shortage, to mine the Helium-3. At this point, all pollution control agreements between the U.S. and Europe, such as the Kyoto treaty, are almost useless in the face of the huge, industrializing Chinese population, which uses mostly antiquated, heavily-polluting, coal-burning power plants.
China's searching for the future, while Greg Little, following Edgar Cayce?s revelations, searched for the past-- Atlantis. Learn all about his amazing adventure on this week's Dreamland.
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