NASA had to rethink much of their plan. Moving forward with it makes the challenge a bit greater. The Moon has no atmosphere. Consequences? The Earth has an interesting relationship with meteors. Between 90 & 95 percent of the meteors that threaten the Earth daily completely burn up in entry, others result in a bright streak across the sky but are vaporized before ever hitting the surface as they are made up of an ice-dust mixture. Meteorites that are found on the surface tend to be around one pound (or .45kg) and while perhaps small they are far from insignificant as they can crash through roofs, windshields, or worse. But given the Earth is 71% covered with water, even fewer of these meteors are found on dry land. This is with an atmosphere. Now take it away – and all those meteors come rushing through.
NASA has been taking a count, doing their diligence to find out what they can expect in returning to the Moon.What did they find? Images taken as far back as 2009 and others 2013 show many new impact craters. Still more recent images taken by the LRO this year showing much the same thing – those meteors are a concern when planning future lunar habitats. Granted the chances of a lunar base being nailed by a direct hit are relatively small, splattered material is certainly a hazard to be planned for. But then, both the Moon & Mars too have an answer. An answer that lies beneath their surfaces and protects all who enter from radiation as well; I am speaking of the lava tubes. The ancient lava tubes that are not only huge cathedrals, but places for plants to grow and human life to move on.
And so what is NASA to do…the only thing they can do, armed with the knowledge that there are options, continue on as planned though slowly and smartly.
NASA has extending a hand to the commercial companies interested in sending scientific payloads to the Moon. There are interested in contracting them as soon as early next year.
Do you know how NASA can entice the commercial companies? They don’t have to. There is an estimatedseveral Quadrillion dollars’ worth on the Moon; The cost to set up operations, a paltry 15 million
One of the things that will be awesome once thus is all undertaken is the use of cislunar space as a staging area: A staging area that NASA will become more familiar with and eventually use quite elegantly for the trip to Mars.
There are great adventures in our not too distant futures and it all starts with the Moon, the Moon and NASA.