Skywatch

  • December 22, 2005

    Episode 15: How to Set Up a Moon Base

    Download this episode

    Shownotes

    You're off to visit the Moon! It's a long trip, but pack light - the cost of carrying supplies from Earth is extremely expensive. You'll need to find and manufacture much of what you need on the Moon. Fortunately, the Hubble Space Telescope recently confirmed that some of the right materials exist there. It was the first time scientists used Hubble to plan for human space exploration. Hubble observed the Apollo 15 and Apollo 17 landing sites, where astronauts found oxygen-bearing minerals in the 1970s. Hubble also viewed areas that astronauts have never visited - the young Aristarchus impact crater and the adjacent Schroter's Valley. Hubble's ability to see ultraviolet light helped find lunar materials rich in oxygen. Hubble mapped variations in reflections of ultraviolet light off the lunar surface to search for specific minerals. Early measurements of the Hubble observations pinpoint locations of ilmenite at the Apollo 17 landing site. Ilmenite, a titanium material, is potentially a key resource because it contains easily extracted oxygen, which can be used for breathing and rocket fuel.