US could bomb the Moon with ice

Space scientists are planning to bomb the Moon with ice to deliver vital supplies of water to astronauts.
A scheme is being drawn up to launch water into space from Earth aboard rockets.
It would be kept frozen in space by a thermal jacket before being fired like a missile to blast a crater in the Moon’s surface.
The concept is the brainchild of Alan Stern, chief scientist for Nasa’s unmanned New Horizons spaceprobe currently heading for Pluto.
He says his latest idea is a simple way to solve the problem of getting water to future lunar colonies.
He tells Space.com: “When we have people on the Moon, they are going to need water. This is an exceptionallly efficient, low-cost way to get it there.”
Previous plans to supply astronauts have depended on finding ice already stashed within craters near the Moon’s north and south poles.
Orbiting spaceprobes Clementine and Lunar Prospector sent back evidence for its existence. The trouble is no one has any idea how much there might be there and how easy it is to get at.
Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute at Boulder, Colorado, says ice bombs will be easier to mine because they will end up just five feet into the surface.
What is more, the water will be known to be pure and free from any harmful bacteria.
The bombs will have to be fired into the dark side of the Moon and retrieved by astronauts during the two weeks of lunar “night”. Otherwise the water would evaporate after sunrise brought that part of the Moon back into daylight.
Stern says America carried out test missions that launched thousands of tons of water into space in the early Sixties.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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