by Karla Lant
October 07, 2017

from Futurism Website






In Brief
New research on samples from the Apollo missions shows that our Moon had an atmosphere 3 to 4 billion years ago.


The research suggests that there may already be a source of ice on the Moon that astronauts and colonists can use.



To the Moon


New research shows that our Moon once had an atmosphere 3 to 4 billion years ago (Lunar Volcanism Produced a Transient Atmosphere Around the Ancient Moon).


It formed when volcanic eruptions rocked the ancient satellite, propelling gases above its surface too rapidly for them to seep into space. The surface of the Moon is peppered with impact basins filled with volcanic basalt.


These basalt plains, called maria, were formed when plumes of magma from inside the Moon erupted to the surface, creating lava flows.


Astronauts from the Apollo missions brought back samples from the maria to Earth, and we now know that the lava flows contained carbon monoxide and other gas components, sulfur, and even the building blocks of water.


Our Moon has no atmosphere now, as it lacks a strong enough magnetic field and sufficient mass to hold an atmosphere around it.


Unlike Earth, which has sufficient mass and magnetism to hang on to an atmosphere, any atmosphere around the Moon would quickly be stripped away by solar winds.


However, the new research indicates that the Moon did briefly have an atmosphere before that happened.



Image Credit:



The team used the samples to calculate how much gas rose and accumulated to form the transient atmosphere.


They found that the volcanic activity peaked about 3.5 billion years ago, which was when the atmosphere was at its thickest. Once it formed, it persisted for around 70 million years before it was stripped away and lost in space.


During the period when the Moon had an atmosphere, it was almost three times closer to Earth, and therefore would have appeared much bigger in the sky.





Boots On the Moon


Universities Space Research Association (USRA) Senior Staff Scientist David Kring told,

"This work dramatically changes our view of the Moon from an airless rocky body to one that used to be surrounded by an atmosphere more prevalent than that surrounding Mars today."


Image Credit:

Debra Needham



This new information has important implications for future astronauts, planned lunar missions and space exploration.


The research suggests that volatiles from the atmosphere may have been trapped near the lunar poles in cold, permanently shadowed areas. If this is true, there may already be a source of ice on the Moon that astronauts and colonists can use for drinking water, growing food, and other needs.


Icy deposits stocked with captured volatiles could also provide fuel and air for both lunar surface operations and even missions beyond the Moon.


And whatever already exists on the Moon won't need to be ported from Earth - a tremendous advantage given the expense of carrying cargo into space.













The U.S. Officially says They are...

Sending Humans to the Moon
by Kyree Leary and Brad Bergan
October 05, 2017

from Futurism Website


In Brief
Vice President Mike Pence took to The Wall Street Journal to explain how the U.S. will regain the top spot in space exploration.


While not fully detailed, the plan is to get people to the Moon before becoming the first nation to put humans on Mars.




The Return of the Moon


Earlier this month, NASA said it was prepared to shift its focus away from Mars, and toward the Moon, whenever the current administration gave the "go" for logistical launch.


Now the organization will have to put their plans into motion, because the present administration just announced a renewed effort to get back to the Moon, and beyond.


In an op-ed published to The Wall Street Journal on October 4, Vice President Mike Pence explained an executive order had been signed to restore the National Space Council, with him as its head.

"On Thursday the council will hold its first meeting in nearly 25 years, and as its chairman, I will deliver a simple message: America will lead in space again," he said,

...citing the national space policy's lack of a coherent vision as the reason the U.S. has been left behind, while countries like China and Russia move forward with their own plans.


Pence also explained how desperately the U.S. needs technology of its own in space, to protect its surveillance, communication, and navigation systems from hacking attempts.





But What About Mars?


The ostensible goal is human exploration.


However, Pence believes starting with the Moon and establishing a firm presence on Earth's nearest neighbor, as "a vital strategic goal," ought to come first.


This isn't the first time the Moon has taken precedence as first step to missions advancing farther into the solar system.


In August, former astronaut Chris Hardfield said settling on the Moon should come first, as it would prove we can still get there. The promise is that our travels won't end there.


According to the VP, the U.S. intends to be the first country to send people to Mars. However, the impetus for space expansion here seems to be exclusively commercial, rather than exploratory or scientific.

"In the years to come, American industry must be the first to maintain a constant commercial human presence in low-Earth orbit, to expand the sphere of the economy beyond this blue marble, " added Pence


VP Mike Pence
speaking at the first National Space Council meeting.
Image Credit: NASA



Within the next few weeks, the administration will form a Users' Advisory Group comprised of various leaders in the commercial space industry.


As its name suggests, it's largely meant to option the expertise of those whom have been developing new hardware and technology to get people into space, either for learning or commercial purposes.


Indeed, as Pence put it,

"Business is leading the way on space technology, and we intend to draw from the bottomless well of innovation to solve the challenges ahead."

The VP didn't detail who would be in this group, though,

...are a couple of people that come to mind.


Elon Musk just recently detailed new plans to send people to Mars in 2024, while Blue Origin intends to send people into suborbital space starting next year.


It may be some time before we see what the National Space Council comes up with.


While NASA has shared its plans for getting to the Moon and Mars, the organization was noticeably absent from the Vice President's announcement.


Critics of NASA's pattern of incoherent plans to get us to Mars like Dr. Robert Zubrin, former Lockheed Martin Astronautics engineer and president of Pioneer Astronautics, have pointed out that Moonbases and low-Earth orbit missions are designed to diversify mission functions so as to garner funding for under-used or unnecessary departments, rather than actually get us to Mars...


If you want to string a rope from A to B, a straight line isn't best if you're a rope salesman.


Whether NASA's absence signifies a change in plans or not, the coming years are sure to be the most interesting in U.S. space travel history since the 1960s.