• Lunar Enterprise Daily

    Link: http://www.spaceagepub.com/Daily.html

    There is now a direct link on the Moon Society front page to Lunar Enterprise Daily, an online report on moon-relevant space developments published at 12:00 Hawaii Standard Time for the following day's edition every business day, that is, five days a week, barring holidays.
    LED’s inaugural issue was November 4, 1999. It was originally available as a subscription service ($295 per year, $595 for organizations.) But thanks to increasing revenues from advertising, LED became freely available earlier this year.

    The man behind LED and Space Age Publishing [SAP] which puts it out, is Steve Durst, a long time ASI and Moon Society member, and currently a Moon Society Advisor. SAP was founded in Palo Alto, CA in 1977 and opened an office in Hawaii on Hawai’i Island in 1988.

    SAP pursues a business plan for its third office on the Moon. With its Lunar Enterprise Corporation subsidiary, Space Age advances and supports a wide variety of scientific, commercial and international lunar activities and enterprises – such as the International Lunar Observatory – consistent with a human return to the Moon within the decade. Space Age also promotes Hawaii Space Tours, Stanford on the Moon and the Ad Astra Kansas initiatives -- To The Stars”

    We hope you enjoy and appreciate the availability of this news service. LED has consistently reported significant Moon Society Developments and frequently reports on major Moon Miners’ Manifesto articles and editorials. The LED link is immediately above the Today’s Space Science News feed in the lower center of our front page. Get in the habit of clicking through every time you visit our home page!

  • Moon Society hails very successful conclusion of SMART-1 mission

    Link: http://www.moonsociety.org/reports/smart-1impact.html

    SMART-1, less the fuel it consumed on its lazy corkscrew path to the Moon by ion drive, weighed only 300 some kilos. Of that 19 kilos comprised the set of seven instruments, some flown for the very first time, that would add invaluable new data mapping the Moon's surface for key elements, notably calcium, and finding in that data confirming evidence about the Moon's origins.

    But the SMART-1 Mission Team controllers were smart themselves. They found a way to turn the rest of the probes bulk mass into a unique instrument as well.

    Click on the linked report above to read more about impact/splashout science.

    SMART stands for "Small Missions for Advanced Research and Technology"

    Amen to that!

    from Peter Kokh

  • Modular Construction within Shielded Megastructures

    Link: http://www.moonsociety.org/2003-pcsn/15-megamodularity.html

    "Modularity Inside Megastructures" is the current "feature image" posted August 30th to the Society front page, top center.

    Modular Construction within Shielded Megastructures will be quite different from building individually pressurized modules, whether they are to be each individually shielded, or housed together under a shielded but unpressurized canopy or hanger or lavatube.

    This architectural option was developed for the double-vaulted rille settlements proposed by the Prinzton design study.
    Prinzton: A Rille-Bottom Settlement for Three Thousand People
    © Lunar Reclamation Society 1989

    The same conditions would apply to a settlement built within a sealed and pressurized lavatube, an option considered physically impractical on engineering grounds by some writers.

    Inside a pressurized megastructure, modules used to provide living, working, learning, and recreational space need not be cylindrical, spherical or otherwise shaped to contain pressure forces. For in a megastructure, atmospheric pressure would be the same indoors and outdoors (or middoors - the common spaces outside homes, and other activity housing structures, if you reserve outdoors for the external vacuum of the lunar surface.)

    Indeed, in theory, we could import the commonplace construction methods used on Earth. However, the need to build space quickly and efficiently and inexpensively for an expanding population makes modularity very attractive.

    On Earth, the nearest comparison is factory built modules, all sized to fit flatbed truck-trailer transport. Of course, the building materials would be different. Fiberglass reinforced concrete, glass glass composites, and metal alloys would prevail. Wood, plastics such as vinyl, and fiber-based composition products would be out. We need to reserve organic materials (hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and their compounds) for biospheric purposes.

    The factory producing modules could be within the structure. But if a steady market for its products is foreseen at other locations on the Moon, it is likely to be somewhere out on the surface, nearby the construction site, or within transport range.

    That means the modules will have to be brought into the megastructure by a one-size-fits all snug fitting freight airlock. This will avoid excessive loss of the megastructure’s atmosphere through constant cycling. Freight elevators, flatbed trucks, cranes will all work most efficiently if the modules are the same size, have the same grappling points, and are approximately the same weight.

    But that leaves architects and outfitters quite a bit of room for custom exterior and interior finishing and outfitting, placement of windows, doors, interior partitions, interior layouts, etc.

    Indeed, modules might be ordered or sold unfinished, if the customer so desires. Once occupied, they can be finished inside and outside at leisure, allowing time for the customer to change initial preferences, etc. In the interests of ready occupancy, however, modules would be ordered with exterior doors, windows, and interior placement of a drop in kitchen-bathroom core complex and peripheral utility runs.

    In this illustration, modules are cross stacked. Of course, they could be stacked one exactly on top of the other, just as well. Cross-stacking, however, provides pairs of built-in patios or balconies on every level, as well as rooftop garden space.

    We suggested ways of stacking 2 or more tiers of four connected cross-stacked modules for office, school, and other mid-size structures.

    In the light one-sixth gravity of the Moon, stacking them several stories high should not be a problem.

    Our pyramidal apartment complex, with some modules containing two small apartments, others just one, others 2 or more stacked modules as one large apartment or town house, was inspired by the Habitat 67 complex, Cite du Havre on Montreal’s river front, designed by Moshe Safdie for Expo 1967, perhaps the last of the truly great World Fairs. I had the chance to tour this complex during my week at the fair. It left an indelible impression.

    If you look at our sketch, you will see that the complex is supported underneath by an A-frame truss structure which would include stairs to the various levels.

    Something like this may never be built on the Moon. But it is a possibility! One of many!

    Indeed, there are so many architectural options, even within the rubric of modularity, that lunar settlements, whether modular from the gitgo, individually pressurized and shielded, or under a shielded hanger, or within a rille-bottom, crater, or lavatube megastructure, will have their own flavors and ambiance, their own styles.

    No one should expect that when you have seen one lunar town, you will have seen then all. Such remarks are always a sign of a superficial minds.

  • Of 8 Planets vs. 28 Worlds & Counting

    Or on demoting the Gas Giants, reinstating Pluto, adding major moons

    Okay, you can see the astronomer’s point of view.

    But from “a truly human point of view”, most of us are interested in places that can be imagined as “worlds, theaters for human life”, even if the living conditions are much, much less comfortable than we are used to, even if we are talking about spartan, and possibly very temporary outposts or one time exploratory visits. Even if, we may add, we are talking about proxy human visits through the eyes of robot rovers, robot aircraft, robot balloons, etc., that can transport us to these alien landscapes, as opposed to distant views from orbit.

    Worlds are places humans can conceivably experience first hand.

    So let’s exclude worlds without a hard surface, or world’s on which the surface atmospheric pressure exceeds 100 times what we are used to on Earth.

    That standard excludes Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune - and is craftily drafted to allow Venus to make the cut. Aerostats hovering just below the Veneran cloud deck at tolerable atmospheric pressure levels, may provide future tourists a real glimpse of Venus' overheated landscapes.

    Our definition includes any world with enough mass to force itself into a spheroidal shape. Even Earth, slightly flattened at the poles, is not a true sphere!

    That gives us the following list of worlds, grouped by distance from the Sun:

    1 Mercury
    2 Venus
    3-4 Earth, Luna
    5 Mars
    6-8 Ceres, Pallas, Vesta
    9-12 Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto
    13-19 Mimas, Enceladys, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Titan, Iapetus
    20-24 Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, Oberon
    25 Triton
    26-27 Pluto, Charon
    28 Xena
    and other “Plutonians”

    “Planet” - a word that can include Jupiter and Mercury in the same category, is a bit contrived. It includes only objects which orbit the sun directly. But what difference does that make? Luna and Europa orbit the Sun just as surely, admittedly while also orbiting Earth and Jupiter respectively. Phenomenologically, there is no difference. Luna and Europa and other major satellites enjoy sunrises and sunsets just as do Earth and Jupiter.

    To the public, to the imagination of the would be explorer, traveler, tourist, trader, diplomat, and on and on, Ganymede is a world, Jupiter is not. Titan is a world, Saturn is not, and so on.

    So let the astronomers gloat in their victory over the public. Their victory is hollow. The emperor, empress, prince, and princess (the gas giants) have no clothes. Yet they do fill an important role; they create communal gravity wells, making it possible to collocate mulitple moon-worlds in the same solar orbit, very handy for transportation to and fro!

    Let's keep the Solar System open. May the human viewpoint prevail!

    Peter Kokh

  • The Solar System becomes a Gated Community

    by Peter Kokh

    Today, August 24th, will go down in astronomical history as the day little, but still fascinating, Pluto and its three moons got kicked out of a now Gated Community. The Gate & Fence is a definition chosen to exclude any world that does not fit the pre-1930 demographics of the Solar Club.

    To do this, the International Astronomical Union [IAU] took the definition chosen by its committee tasked with creating a definition of a “Planet”

    “a body orbiting the sun that was big enough so that gravity would overcome internal forces and squash it into a roughly spherical shape.”

    and added one more qualifier:

    “a planet must also be massive enough to clear other objects out of its orbital zone.”

    This last phrase was designed to keep out Ceres and Pluto and Xena.

    The trouble with this standard is that
    a) this clearing operation is incomplete. If it were complete, we would not be threatened by near Earth objects, NEOs.
    b) most of what clearing process that has occurred took the better part of a billion years.
    c) Mighty Jupiter and Neptune didn’t exactly “clear” their orbits, but shepherded the stragglers into Trojan (Lagrange 4 and 5) orbital positions, 60 degrees ahead and behind them in their paths around the sun.

    The winners are those who have always resented Pluto, and wanted a definition that would forever keep the Planetary Club membership fixed.

    The losers are the public. Elevation of Ceres, a mini-planet in its own right, preservation of Pluto’s status, and an open door to other ice planets beyond would have much better fostered public interest in the solar system and the universe in general.

    With this sad step, we took one giant leap backwards towards the days when the only worlds were Earth, Heaven, and Hell, and all the rest were just lights in the sky.

    Creating gerrymandered definitions that preserve club membership to the historic planetary demographics is a big mistake.

    It would have been so simple to just create classes of planets:
    a) the four rocky planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
    b) dwarf rocky planets: Ceres, Pallas, Vesta
    c) the four gas giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune
    d) the small outer icy planets: Pluto, Xena, and others yet to be discovered.

    The contrived nature of the new definition is clear from the fact that the rocky planets and gas giants are two vastly different classes of worlds.

    To keep club membership at eight, the definition has to be vague enough to embrace both small rocky worlds and larger gas giants, yet specific enough to exclude the dwarf rocky worlds and outer ice worlds. Gerrymandered.

    If we have a definition that has the latitude to include both of these groups, then why not one a bit more general to include the other groups?

    “It is a puzzlement”, said the King of Siam.

    I don’t think this is the end of the story. The public repercussions of Pluto’s demotion will erode public interest in astronomy. After all, astronomers clearly do not have their act together, and are acting like an Old Boys Club.

    Meanwhile, we are busy discovering more and more exoplanets - planets around other suns, and you can be sure, that the demographics of these systems will sooner or later force us to back off this “gated community” definition.

    Oh yes, one more thing. The committee had proposed elevating Charon. This may seem absurd but you should not think that Pluto and Charon would have been planets separately. Indeed, I think that given that they both rotate around a common center of gravity well above Pluto’s surface, should classify them as “a binary planet system.”

    So not ...... Neptune, Pluto, Charon, and Xena
    but .... Neptune, Pluto-Charon, and Xena.
    Now that would have been wonderful!

    But I am even more disappointed that Ceres’ claim is not being honored. It is a world with enough gravity to force it into a spheroidal shape, and to stratify its material into layers, densest at the core. Clearly, Ceres and Gaspra or Eros are different types of objects. Yes, Ceres was too small to force order among the fragmentary objects in its orbital zone. But that does not change what Ceres is in itself.

    Ceres is bound to play an important role if humankind ever ventures beyond Mars and into the realm of the outer gas giants. See “Ceres: largest asteroid or mini-planet” in MMM #196 June 2006, pp 4-6. It is high time that Ceres got the recognition due it both as a mini world in itself and as to its strategic potential in the saga of homo solaris.

    It is a pity that the astronomers couldn’t see the wider picture. But horse blinders are an occupational hazard of any “specialized” profession. Who would have suspected that persons whose occupation is to explore the universe at large, could have such closed small minds.

    No apologies. Sometimes, punches shouldn't be pulled.


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