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Potentially Icy Northern Crater Mapped By LRO July 7, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : lunar mining, lunar North Pole, lunar polar regions, Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, lunar water, NASA, Rozhdestvenskiy, water , add a comment

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has mapped for the first time in high resolution a crater of interest for potential ice deposits.

A permanently-shadowed crater within the larger, northern Rozhdestvenskiy, the LRO’s advanced Mini-RF imaging technology was able to bring out the Circular Polarization Ratio (CPR) of the crater and its surroundings. A stark contrast between the two suggests thick deposits of ice, as were shown generally to exist around the north pole earlier this year.

You better get used to ‘Rozhdestvenskiy’, as deposits will surely make this an icy hotspot for future lunar missions and subsequent (lucrative) mining efforts.

NASA To Lead Way With Lunar Robotics, Mining? April 7, 2010

Posted by Nick Azer in : lunar mining, NASA, Post-Constellation, robotics, rover , 2comments

The Google Lunar X PRIZE features a bonanza of robotic rover concepts (and companies with plans to continue working on the moon with robotics), but a Space.com article today notes NASA’s plans to blaze the path with their own post-Constellation rover missions:

“”The area where NASA could perhaps lead — an area which could affect society greatly — is robotics.” – Robert Braun, NASA Chief Technologist;’ NASA Plans New Robot Generation to Explore Moon, Asteroids’, Space.com

The article cites the 2011 NASA Budget Proposal as planning two lunar  robotics missions, starting next year. (See Page 8 of the Proposal Overview [PDF]). One mission would test remote control of robotics from Earth or even the ISS, and the other could be a mission to test mining techniques for water and other in-situ resources. The proposal overview elaborates a little on the latter—saying missions could include “demonstrating a factory to process lunar or asteroid materials…”.

These missions sound like they’d go a long way towards NASA’s new role in supporting private space. By demonstrating and testing both control and method for utilizing lunar resources, they could really spur along companies that otherwise might not want to take on the risk or cost of figuring out the initial techniques.

Check out the article for an interesting quote from Peter Diamandis on the Google Lunar X PRIZE’s goal re: NASA, and the full skinny of details :)