- Parabolic Arc
- March 17, 2023
On Second Thought, the Moon’s Water May Be Widespread and Immobile
By Elizabeth Zubritsky
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — A new analysis of data from two lunar missions finds evidence that the Moon’s water is widely distributed across the surface and is not confined to a particular region or type of terrain. The water appears to be present day and night, though it’s not necessarily easily accessible.
The findings could help researchers understand the origin of the Moon’s water and how easy it would be to use as a resource. If the Moon has enough water, and if it’s reasonably convenient to access, future explorers might be able to use it as drinking water or to convert it into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel or oxygen to breathe.
“We find that it doesn’t matter what time of day or which latitude we look at, the signal indicating water always seems to be present,” said Joshua Bandfield, a senior research scientist with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and lead author of the new study published in Nature Geoscience. “The presence of water doesn’t appear to depend on the composition of the surface, and the water sticks around.”
The results contradict some earlier studies, which had suggested that more water was detected at the Moon’s polar latitudes and that the strength of the water signal waxes and wanes according to the lunar day (29.5 Earth days). Taking these together, some researchers proposed that water molecules can “hop” across the lunar surface until they enter cold traps in the dark reaches of craters near the north and south poles. In planetary science, a cold trap is a region that’s so cold, the water vapor and other volatiles which come into contact with the surface will remain stable for an extended period of time, perhaps up to several billion years.
The debates continue because of the subtleties of how the detection has been achieved so far. The main evidence has come from remote-sensing instruments that measured the strength of sunlight reflected off the lunar surface. When water is present, instruments like these pick up a spectral fingerprint at wavelengths near 3 micrometers, which lies beyond visible light and in the realm of infrared radiation.
But the surface of the Moon also can get hot enough to “glow,” or emit its own light, in the infrared region of the spectrum. The challenge is to disentangle this mixture of reflected and emitted light. To tease the two apart, researchers need to have very accurate temperature information.
Bandfield and colleagues came up with a new way to incorporate temperature information, creating a detailed model from measurements made by the Diviner instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO. The team applied this temperature model to data gathered earlier by the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a visible and infrared spectrometer that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, provided for India’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter.
The new finding of widespread and relatively immobile water suggests that it may be present primarily as OH, a more reactive relative of H2O that is made of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom. OH, also called hydroxyl, doesn’t stay on its own for long, preferring to attack molecules or attach itself chemically to them. Hydroxyl would therefore have to be extracted from minerals in order to be used.
The research also suggests that any H2O present on the Moon isn’t loosely attached to the surface.
“By putting some limits on how mobile the water or the OH on the surface is, we can help constrain how much water could reach the cold traps in the polar regions,” said Michael Poston of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas.
Sorting out what happens on the Moon could also help researchers understand the sources of water and its long-term storage on other rocky bodies throughout the solar system.
The researchers are still discussing what the findings tell them about the source of the Moon’s water. The results point toward OH and/or H2O being created by the solar wind hitting the lunar surface, though the team didn’t rule out that OH and/or H2O could come from the Moon itself, slowly released from deep inside minerals where it has been locked since the Moon was formed.
“Some of these scientific problems are very, very difficult, and it’s only by drawing on multiple resources from different missions that are we able to hone in on an answer,” said LRO project scientist John Keller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
LRO is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. JPL designed, built and manages the Diviner instrument.
Read the paper in Nature Geoscience: https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0065-0
94 responses to “On Second Thought, the Moon’s Water May Be Widespread and Immobile”
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Sounds like it is way past time to send some rovers there to find out. But NASA scincists are too stuck on looking for water on Mars to care about the Moon.
But what I would like to find on the Moon is not water, but Ammonia and Methane. If you have hydrogen you are able to make water with the abundant Oxygen in the rocks. But Nitrogen and Carbon will be needed for settlements.
We actually HAVE found water ice on Mars, large quantities of it, this Lunar water source is still very heavily inferred, carbon and nitrogen from what has been observed is likely to only exist in trace amounts on Luna, but those resource deficiencies aren’t the only reason why Luna is bad for settlement, assuming you dont want to be constantly mobile, there are only 3 ways you are getting near constant power without heavy infrastructure around the Moon, 1 stay at the poles, 2 lots and lots of battery and 3 nuclear, in addition to make lunar resources useful you need to develop very specific technology that is almost useless anywhere else, finally despite claims otherwise, when you look at the math and the resources available the moon makes a HORRIBLE “gas station” takes more delta v to get to than Mars, so you would need sled launch to get the fuel off luna without costing more delta V than it takes to get there in the first place, that needs a lot of power, and getting a steady supply of power isn’t easy on Luna,
Propellant producing water depots within cis-lunar space is the key to opening up the Moon, Mars, Venus, Callisto, and the asteroid belt and the Trojan and Greek asteroids of the Sun-Jupiter Lagrange points to humanity.
The Moon is an excellent source of water for propellant producing depots located at the Lagrange points within cis-lunar space. And even if there were no water resources on the lunar surface, the Moon would still be an excellent source of oxygen which comprises nearly 86% of the mass content of rocket fuel and nearly 89% of the mass content of water.
Trying to get to Mars or to other places in the solar system from LEO would require a delta-v penalty of at least 2.4 km/s relative to departing from one of the Earth-Moon Lagrange points. And supplying water for the production of propellant to the Earth-Moon Lagrange points from the Moon requires of delta-v of less than 2.6 km/s while it would require a delta-v of more than 13 km/s from the surface of the Earth.
It would be pretty easy to deploy more than one MW of almost continuous solar electric power to one of the lunar poles with a single SLS launch.
Costs more ∆v to go to the moon than mars to mars or anywhere really its better to refuel in leo and maybe again in high elliptical orbit then go fuel from earth
The delta-v to from the Earth’s surface to LEO is more than 9.3 km/s. The delta-v from the lunar surface to EML1 is merely 2.52 km/s and even to LEO the delta-v from the lunar surface is less than 6 km/s.
The delta-v from LEO to a Mars Transfer Orbit is about 4.3 km/s. The delta-v from EML1 to a Mars Transfer Orbit is less than 1 km/s.
So its obviously cheaper to fuel reusable vehicles at EML1 than LEO for interplanetary travel.
First off no because everything but your propellant in that case is coming from earth which you need currently non existent tech to extract and you can only synthesize a fuel with horrible energy density without carbon, meaning your tanks need more mass then you need a lot of fuel to send your spacecraft and payload to the lunar surface in the first place and your tanks have to be made of special alloys because of hydrogen embrittlement they can’t be carbon fiber, more mass, it takes 11000t iirc of methalox from an essentric earth orbit for bfs to get to and land on mars with 150t the physical size of the tank is similar to that of the shuttle ET, which had less propellant mass in order for a hydrolox system to carry a enough mass for a colony and land it, you need sea dragon proportions
cost of water extraction equipment on the moon, cost of maintaining it cost of shipping it to LEO because you dont want to waste fuel sending your mars destined payload to the moon, cost of hydrogen tanks verses CH4, cost of figuring out how to land on Mars using LH2 when it is easier with the far more dense CH4, add to that LH2 engines have horrible TWR, which means less acceleration so more delta v is required, longer landing burn so again more delta v meaning more fuel, more fuel to carry that fuel, bigger tanks which means more mass and more fuel, which makes things more expensive, so why again is cheaper to get fuel from the moon?
The most efficient path between any two points is a line with fully reusable launch vehicles launching propellant from earth will be dirt cheap it requires less ∆v to get to Mars than to Luna, though you may use more to shorten the trip,
Your argument in regard delta-v, and thereby of lunar resources, is completely wrong. For starters, the delta-v is not in the propellant, it is in the vehicle.
The cheap abundant resources are on Earth, and LEO will always be the CHEAPEST place in space to access those resources. Additionally, and even more importantly, almost ALL passengers and cargo will be departing from and delivered to Earth surface, via LEO. Your perspective involves the additional cost/time/delta-v expense of moving passengers and cargo into and out of LEO, thereby completely invalidating your proposed delta-v saving argument.
The lunar/Lagrange idea is equivalent to saying that the best way to get from New York to London is to first take all cargo and passengers to Iceland. Iceland to London might well be lower delta-v, but you have ignored more than half the actual problem.
The real answer to the delta-v problem for the inner solar system is larger vehicles with larger tanks and denser propellant – with refuelling in LEO using fully reusable launchers. The real answer to the delta-v problem for the outer solar system is launch/refuel from Mars.
The cost of manufacturing water on Earth relative to the Moon is– insignificant– relative to the cost of transporting water out of planetary gravity wells. And that’s where the Moon’s low gravity well has a huge advantage over the Earth’s massive gravity well.
The Moon would also have the advantage of being able to use reusable single stage vehicles to transport water to EML1.
The advantage of operating reusable interplanetary vehicles from EML1 is that you only have to transport the orbital transfer vehicle and the habitat module to EML1. The water for fuel, radiation shielding, air production, and drinking and washing can come from the Moon’s low gravity well.
Crews can be transferred from LEO to EML1 aboard small vehicles such as XEUS or an Orion service module plus a reusable ACES-68 booster.
Any serious consideration of the “lunar gas station plan” surely relies on many decades and hyper expensive precursor work to install and develop industrial scale mining on the lunar surface. That’s first assuming that the OH on the lunar surface is somehow actually mineable, and on an industrial scale. Furthermore, the only scenario where there might be sufficient motivation to consider investing in lunar fuel and water manufacture, is if there are tens of thousands of people travelling between Earth and LEO and beyond, and thousands going to Mars. Why then, if these passengers are being transported from surface to LEO by a methane fuelled BFR (or some methane fuelled BO alternative), would you want to use Xeus and Orion to transfer them to between LEO and EML1 a handful at a time. And the only likely Mars transport being built in the next fifty years is BFR being refuelled in LEO.
In all likelihood, there may be no recoverable water on the Moon. Even if there is, it will be an extremely difficult task to collect it in sufficient quantities to be useful. The fact is, for next fifty to a hundred years or more, the only places significant numbers of people will want to go is LEO and Mars. No one wants the expensive (and probably non-existent) lunar water and those that think they do, will be reliant on Earth to LEO and LEO to Mars technologies that makes the requirement for lunar eau redundant.
The only reason lunar prop would be useful is if you were making something on the moon that uses it that requires presumably precursor tech for refining lunar aluminum, alternatives to polymer, and so on not having access to carbon and nitrogen is a real pita when you think about how you are going to do things
Lunar prop would be useful for transporting crew from EML to Lunar and back. The market demand for this transportation service would initially be for NASA to fulfill the current policy, then a broad demand for international, suborbital lunar exploration, then for private, wealthy individual who wish to be a part of the historic founding of humanity’s first permanent foothold off Earth. Reduced transportation costs after that will then make other, material-based business plans (eg PGMs or something) possible.
Assuming you can set up large scale water extraction, sure but because of resource disparity between Earth and Luna setting up any form of industry will require likely decades of material science development, and much of that will only be useful on Earth when recycling is not enough for things like aluminum, with Mars your industry will be chemically similar if not near identical to Earth, you would have to substitute fossil fuels and introduce oxygen more artificially, but that can lead to technology immediately useful on Earth, coal free virgin steel for instance
> what advantage economically does sourcing prop from Luna bring
For lunar ascent prop, to get that from Earth requires launching a FH-class rocket for every about 10 tonnes. To get that 10 tonnes from lunar resources would require a month’s cycle of an Ice Harvester that had been previously delivered plus the operations cost and amortization of the hardware and spare parts. Might it be more cost-effective for a month’s duty cycle of the Ice Harvester compared to launching another rocket? Possibly.
But the people, cargo, and Mars transport are all in LEO – there won’t be anyone departing from lunar orbit regardless of whether or not the propellant is 20% cheaper. And what’s with the “FH-class”? – BFS is going to be refuelled by BFS Tankers.
You little WALLE Ice Harvester, harvesting the ice that probably isn’t there in some of the most extreme terrain and conditions in the solar system will need to be producing hundreds or thousands of tonnes a day to be of any use (one BFS takes 1100 tonnes of prop) – it will need to be “industrial scale”.
The term “industrial” typically connotes large buildings with lots of pipes and heavy machinery. That’s not what’s needed on the Moon in order to produce usable amounts of water such as refueling a lander in a reasonable period of time.
Here’s what “industrial” shows up when typing it into Google Images:
…and here an illustration of the minimal amount of hardware it would take to refuel a lander from Cabeus-concentration of icy regolith:
There is a question of how useful hydrolox is, it lacks the density for reusable rockets, and isn’t great for most station keeping, limiting it to stuff that uses a lot of ∆v which may be Astroid mining and outer solar system exploration
First of all, that picture doesn’t really convey the 2 km deep vertical cliffs with house sized boulder field across the crater floor, in perpetual darkness, in vacuum, at -250.
Second, this latest study (based on the original low resolution data) implies that there may indeed be no H2O at all, and it might well be all OH. All of which would require large scale excavation and large buildings and huge pipes, and heavy machinery, all supplied by many hundreds of megawatts of nuclear power. So yes, the vast industrial scale mining effort is far more likely than the “locate it with a couple of torches and sweep it up with a dustpan and brush” scenario you envisage.
Third, nobody really wants the stuff, except perhaps for a handful of visiting scientists, when we eventually get round to sending them – the passengers and cargo embarking to Mars are on Earth, not on the Moon.
Does this latest analysis negate the LCROSS findings in which 5.6% of the icy regolith was crystalline water ice plus organics?
Not all permanently-shadowed craters have 2 km deep vertical cliffs. Modern VTVL vehicles image obstacles and land accordingly. Perpetual darkness is implied by the picture (for practical reasons one has to see the equipment). Vacuum is implied as this is the surface of the Moon. The known cryogenic temperatures are acknowledged and addressed with the use of vehicle body heat and the use of aluminum for those parts that contact the surfaces.
Many countries would like to send their national astronauts to explore the Moon on behalf of their citizens. Ascent and descent propellant could be used to support that demand.
Except that there won’t be any passengers going to Mars, other than a handful of Astronauts, for next 50 years or so. The Planetary Protection folks are not going to allow humans, and their 10,000 plus microbes, anywhere near it for at least that long. Yes, it’s stupid, but they want to prevent contimantion of it. This is the 800 pound Gorilla that Mars advocates keep ignoring.
Just like the tech, philosophical stances move rather quickly – be careful where you plant your predictive flag.
What about not stopping at an EML point but launching to a high orbit at a DV halfway between the Earth & Moon (i.e. DV of 3.0) and then docking with and transferring cargo or crew to a lunar ferry? The analogy would be a plane launched from New York rendezvousing with a plane from London and handing off the module to a plane which then takes it to London. Don’t go to Iceland. Don’t even go to the surface of the Atlantic.
“…Lunar water source is still very heavily inferred”
That’s not what I read – the heavy inference is for OH and probably zero stable H2O. The rest of your comments are spot-on. For the next hundred years at least, Lunar will be a bad mine and, as you say, a horrible gas station. Avoid the Moon completely for now and concentrate on Earth-LEO-Mars.
Sled launch? You must be channeling the 1950’s. High acceleration rail guns will be the way to go and it’s basically off the shelf technology. The rail gun on the U.S. Navy’s new Destroyer already fires 23 kg projectiles at a speed greater that lunar escape velocity.
Rail and coil guns ARE forms of sled launch sled launch is a general term for any form of mass driver where the carriage stays with the driver or otherwise doesn’t stay with the payload
There is no carriages in the rail gun, the coils accelerate the round directly. That is why they are more efficient and are capable of such high G acceleration. It’s generations beyond the old O’Neill mass drivers you are thinking of.
that only works for specifically designed projectiles, and a rail gun is a simple circuit with the projectile in a single use carriage completing it, a coil gun is like a mag lev. if I am shooting at an enemy a specifically designed projectile is fine if I am chucking cargo, a carriage is needed
No, because the container for the cargo is the projectile. Why would you be flinging loose cargo into space?
not loose, varied, if I am going to build something like that I want it to be useful for many different sizes and shapes of payload the investment is too costly already.
No, just as containerization has simplified transportation on Earth it will do so in space. The containers will be standardized, what you put in them will not. Your old O’Neill model using sleds is complex and outdated. It will require just as much energy to brake the sleds as accelerate them, and a much longer track, then doing it without them. This will at least double the cost per kg.
you have to remake the specialized parts of the container then each time, manufacturing on the moon is limited, therefore throwing away the specialized components is inefficient
No, the containers will be reused, just as on Earth. If they are stressed for high-G acceleration it won’t take a lot of energy to brake them for a lunar return. Stop thinking in terms of how NASA launches things from Earth.
Then you need a crap ton of delta v to get them back to the moon no point in getting propellant from the moon in the first place
Mars can be powered by wind and solar, has days of similar length to earth therefore mass storage and nuclear isn’t needed on Mars you also have it backwards wind and solar for baseline power, hydrocarbon (ch4 or co) and battery for peaking
I don’t think you have done your homework on Mars wind power. The atmosphere is a near vacuum. A 200 km/hr wind on Mars has less energy that a 10 km/hr on Earth. The opening scene of The Martian was a joke.
And solar energy is much less than on the Moon. Why do think NASA went with nuclear power for the latest generation of rovers?
Don’t fear nuclear energy, it’s the key to the Solar System.
the CO2 atmosphere is dense wind speed is faster, helping matters, and the modern wind turbine was DESIGNED FOR MARS
the wind is strong enough to create HUGE dust storms its strong enough to use as power.
No. The dust storms occur because the dust on Mars is so fine. And the composition of the atmosphere doesn’t effect its density. FYI.
The Fact and Fiction of Martian Dust Storms
” With an understanding that wind force is a function of atmospheric
density as well as velocity, calculations show the speed of a 60-mph
storm on Mars would feel more like 6 mph (9.6 km/hr), Smith said.”
Which as you can make turbines in situ, making it a valid power supply isn’t a problem it’s not finite like nuclear easier to expand than solar
Setting up hundreds of turbines is easier and more economical than bringing a miniature nuclear reactor for the same amount of power
But none will have enough wind to produce any power. Plain and simple.
Yes they will
You didn’t read those articles did you?
Listen because of short nights you don’t need nukes on mars at all wind is mainly to reduce storage requirements for dust storms as you have plenty of space for solar the reduced sunlight isn’t a problem you don’t have 14 day nights like on the moon only slightly longer than that of earth making it an easy primary power source
nukes have logistical issues you need a constant supply from earth.
Yea, once every decade or two… Until you start processing the nuclear ores on the Moon.
OR SKIP THE MOON AND SAVE THE EFFORT Nuclear lunar processing would take 70 years or more if we started today
A colony needs to be self sufficient the moon cant be, Mars can, simple choice between the moon and Mars
A colony is a settlement that is the servant of its founding nation. A settlement is politically and economically free. Note, not self-sufficient, but able to import what it doesn’t produce. The last human societies that are self sufficient are the hunter-gathers.
Yes and data/information service is your biggest export in any space venture
if you want energy dense nuke to live off of, the fuel will last 6 months before you need to replace it.
another advantage of wind on mars, very easy to make in situ, even if individually you dont get a lot of power, you dont have to bring a lot of supplies to make a LOT of turbines. the use of wind on Mars is well studied, and evaluated as a valid power source for a colony.
You need very specific techologies to make the moon useful industry will probably take at least 30 years to happen.
It will be a lot faster than that. It has the four key factors needed for space industrialization. An abundance of resources, especially metals, close enough to Earth for easy teleoperation, a perfect vacuum and a low gravity well. Mars has none of these features. That is why it will be easier for entrepreneurs to close business plans for the Moon than for Mars. Mars will just be for government space for the foreseeable future.
many places on earth have the same average wind energy as Mars, the atmosphere is low pressure but DENSE as a result wind is more than viable
How do you refine aluminum without carbon or loads of water? that needs 30 years, how do you make electronics without polymers as an insulator?
The problem with Mars above all is the time value of money. A ship that can only deliver every other window must recoup its’ entire value on every trip when interest is included. A reusable Lunar ship can run 50 to 100 times during each Mars trip by a ship that is almost by definition, far more expensive. I was once told that the rocket equation makes a good start, but the financial equation makes a better finish.
A relatively simple and small Lunar ship could land dozens of financially risky prospecting missions for the price of one Mars crap shoot. Mars may well eventually be our second planetary home, but only after the financial numbers close. Until then, it is a distraction of scientific interest only.
Yes, it’s the proximity that counts. Mars will only be the domain of science for decades into the future.
Planetary protection is not going to be a non starter, as part of prep work in setting up habitat via robots, and evaluating resources you would be engaging in search for life operations, regulations being lessoned/streamlined doesn’t effect either Luna or Mars more than the other and regulations aren’t why we haven’t returned to the Moon or sent people to Mars, its money
Again, you are thinking in terms of the old socialist (government) space paradigm. A good regulatory environment is critical to building a free enterprise based space economy.
I have no idea where you got the idea I was thin of that, there is value planetary protection, “has life started elsewhere in the solar system” and it wont cost much to check the landing site for microbes, you could bring bigger longer range equipment to do it faster on BFS
Yes, and if they find life on Mars they will probably put it off limits to private enterprise or settlement for decades.
No they will want to go in and do more indepth study with boots on the ground now that we can know the microbes are Martian
You haven’t listen to what the Planetary Protection Office has been saying.
Planetary protection folks are Scientists the hypothesis is that life exists elsewhere in the solar system independent of terrestrial source, NOT finding it on Mars will delay us more
Do you know the state of the art for solar powered non-polar lunar rovers. Do we have the ability to build a rover which can hibernate though a two week lunar night and still function the following lunar day. The temperature extremes such a rover would have to endure are brutal.
Why do you assume they will be non-nuclear? RTGs are a proven off the shelf technology?
yeah, now to get CONgress to allow a lot more production of Pu238
Again, you are thinking in terms of government (NASA) space. There are other options, less optimal, but workable. And it doesn’t have to be made in the USA.
nuclear gets expensive quickly, if you want to have any kind of large scale ops, the trickle power from rtgs for the cost isn’t worth it good for smaller long duration, but unfavorable for anything else, kilopower solves some of that, until you want to think about more meaningful duration, then its just another thing that eats up more and more launches, and its still expensive,your best option is to source your power locally whenever possible.
Unless you have unlimited money your option is solar
Your rover would need good insulation, high capacity battery, heaters, and so on, an option to aid insulation is to partially borrow into the regolith before lunar night, another option though a lot more restrictive, to always be moving staying lit, there are obvious problems with this however.
Or just do what the Russians did 45 years ago and only use the nuclear material as your heat source.
As for fixed facilities there is an easier answer, flywheels or compressed gas storage. The lack of water on the Moon, unlike Mars, means it’s easy to make large sealed underground chambers that will hold compressed O2, just bleed it off as need to run a turbine.
But also don’t overlook the value of a small nuclear reactor like those on ships. Nuclear is expensive on Earth because of all the anti-nuke kooks. It won’t be as expensive in space, especially if you purchase it from a country like Russia or France.
nuclear matterial is EXPENSIVE non starter for large scale ops
No, that is incorrect. There is a new generation of small commercial nuclear reactors being developed that will have spinoffs that will work well on the Moon.
Advanced Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)
I could see why it might not be impossible to use nuclear reactors on Mars, since a dust storm could spread any contamination over a wide area. But without an atmosphere there is no such risk on the Moon.
I am referring to kilopower as well, not good for more than 4 people
You did not read the articles did you. These are not NASA style RTG, but reactors that are large enough to power a small city. You really need to start seeing space from the perspective of 21st Century economics, not 1970’s Whole Earth models…
No carbon on the moon so we can’t do squat there with known techology
So you import it from Earth, just as we import coffee and bananas. If you want to live independent of the global economy you need to join a commune in the desert, not settle space. You sound like the L-5ers who used to publish in the Whole Earth Catalogs 🙂
The goal is to important almost nothing
Right. When one is able to harvest propellant-quantities of water ice, not only does one have propellant but breathable oxygen, water for sanitation and food, and carbon and nitrogen for use by a base that recycles these things. If also extending crew stay, relatively quickly the amount of mass that would need to be launched to support the base would be something like 15% or less. In the relative near term we would be launching people, electronics, and certain items and materials hard to make or source on the Moon.
Everything i have found is that there is a very very very small trace amount of carbon on the moon
LOL And that is the basic problem with Mars advocates, their rejection of logic and economics.
Less i have to send there the more guaranteed my returns are over time,
Colonization is the ultimate long term investment
Early on Mars colony would make money via product placement and celebrity status of colonists, after that taking advantage of high data rate to the belt to aid in astroid mining
Are you aware of all of the LCROSS results?
lack of atmosphere on the moon unlike mars means bleeding off compressed air is a more critical loss of resources, rather than something you can pump back into the chamber, when you bleed it off its gone for good.
Why would you bled it off to the surface? That is stupid. You just bled it from a small chamber to a large one and then recompress it when you have solar energy available.
what are you pressurizing it with?
Whatever gas is available on the Moon. Oxygen from lunar soil would probably work.
No to back pressure it
How are you going to extract the oxygen from lunar soil molten salt extraction for aluminum is decades off and traditional aluminum refining needs petcoke (carbon not available on Luna)
And you just bring it from Earth. That is how an economy works. You export what you produce to import what you need.
Lack of carbon or nitrogen on the moon means its hard (damn near impossible for all but most basic things) to do anything completely in situ