Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Game changer for propellant generation on the Moon.

 Copyright 2023 Robert Clark


 Proponents of getting propellant from the Moon for spacecraft already in Earth orbit, as for orbital propellant depots, base this on using high power to separate hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis applied to the water ice in the Moon's south polar region. However, quite surprisingly there may already be free hydrogen at the Moon's south pole or available in far more energy efficient way then by electrolysis. This hydrogen may be so easily obtainable then it may be it can be profitably shipped to Earth for a clean energy economy.

Free Propellant on Mars and the Moon.

 In the blog post "Potential Game-Changer for Generating Propellant on Mars," I suggested that getting free oxygen and carbon monoxide from the Martian atmosphere would provide a free means of producing propellant on Mars. This is important since rather than requiring several football fields of solar panels or a nuclear power plant to generate the megawatts of power needed to separate the CO2 or H2O into carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen by electrolysis, we could actually generate megawatts of power after collecting the free CO and O2 in the Martian air then combusting them together:


 This may may seem odd that we can generate power by collecting the natural resources already there but note this is exactly what we're doing when we collect the coal or petroleum or uranium from the ground on Earth. You get far more potential energy out than what you put in to collect it.

 And in fact we could also generate hydrogen in a way that at the same time generates power as well. This comes from the reaction:

1.)CO + H2O → CO2+ H2, ΔH = -41 kJ/mol 

 The H2O could come from the abundant ice in the Martian soil or in fact from the Martian air as well. The hydrogen(H2) would then come from what is called the water-gas shift reaction: 

The water–gas shift reaction (WGSR) describes the reaction of carbon monoxide and water vapor to form carbon dioxide and hydrogen:

CO + H2O ⇌ CO2 + H2

The water gas shift reaction was discovered by Italian physicist Felice Fontana in 1780. It was not until much later that the industrial value of this reaction was realized. Before the early 20th century, hydrogen was obtained by reacting steam under high pressure with iron to produce iron oxide and hydrogen. With the development of industrial processes that required hydrogen, such as the Haber–Bosch ammonia synthesis, a less expensive and more efficient method of hydrogen production was needed. As a resolution to this problem, the WGSR was combined with the gasification of coal to produce hydrogen. As the idea of hydrogen economy gains popularity, the focus on hydrogen as an energy storage medium when an alternative replacement energy source for hydrocarbons is used.


 However, it may be this process can also work on the Moon. The LCROSS mission to my mind may have been one of the most significant planetary science missions ever conducted by NASA, as measured in relation to its cost. It was designed as a low cost "Discovery" class mission but what it returned was profoundly important. It had an ingenious design that sent a rocket stage to impact the Moon at the south polar region and observe spectroscopically the material sent up in the impact plume by a second spacecraft..

 The mission confirmed what was suspected that there was great amounts of water as ice in the Moon's south polar region. In fact LCROSS found an extensive list of volatiles concentrated at the south pole of the Moon:

Moon Blast Reveals Lunar Surface Rich With Compounds.
Science Oct 21, 2010 2:05 PM EDT.
There is water on the moon … along with a long list of other compounds, including, mercury, gold and silver. That’s according to a more detailed analysis of the chilled lunar soil near the moon’s South Pole, released as six papers by a large team of scientists in the journal, Science Thursday.

 The amounts of volatiles found by LCROSS was extraordinary:

Lunar Impact Uncovered More Than Just Moon Water.

Oct. 21, 2010:  Nearly a year after announcing the discovery of water molecules on the moon, scientists have revealed new data uncovered by NASA's Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO—and it's more than just water.

In addition to water, the plume contained "volatiles." These are compounds that freeze in the cold lunar craters and vaporize easily when warmed by the sun. The suite of LCROSS and LRO instruments determined as much as 20 percent of the material kicked up by the LCROSS impact was volatiles, including methane, ammonia, hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. 

 These last three are quite important in regards to the lunar propellant issue. If the hydrogen is indeed free then that gives us a ready made source for the clean-energy hydrogen. However, I suspect the hydrogen seen from orbit after the rocket stage impact, was derived from the water-gas shift reaction. This reaction shown in eq. 1.) reacts carbon monoxide and water to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide and is helped by high temperatures, as would have obtained after the rocket stage impact. So the carbon monoxide could have reacted with the water to generate hydrogen.

 Once we have hydrogen then we can send it back to Earth for clean energy. The gravity and required launch speed from the Moon is so low we could use continual launch methods such as railguns or even the space elevator, which is possible with current materials under the Moons low gravity.

 As in the case of the getting hydrogen or other propellants on Mars discussed in the prior blog post, we would need low energy separation methods.  A new method sounds quite promising:

Mechanochemical breakthrough unlocks cheap, safe, powdered hydrogen

By Loz Blain July 18, 2022

Australian scientists say they've made a "eureka moment" breakthrough in gas separation and storage that could radically reduce energy use in the petrochemical industry, while making hydrogen much easier and safer to store and transport in a powder.


 This proposed solution for low energy gas separation though still needs to be confirmed by other researchers. 

 Hydrogen on the Moon Cheaper and Cleaner than on Earth?

 The Department of Energy(DOE) set a goal in 2021 to reduce the cost of producing hydrogen in a clean fashion by 80% to $1 per kg in 1 decade. The chemical methods for producing hydrogen can already do it about a $1 per kg cost, but results in additional CO2 being added to the atmosphere. Using solar power for a clean energy hydrogen generation approach is more expensive. This described on this DOE page:


Clean hydrogen is of the greatest interest in addressing the climate crisis, with the recognition that hydrogen could play a crucial role in economy-wide decarbonization, particularly in the transportation and industrial sectors including sustainable fuels, iron & steel, ammonia and chemicals, and more.1 Hydrogen is an extremely clean energy carrier, as its consumption produces only water; it also has a high energy density by mass. Hydrogen can be used to power fuel cells or combusted in a hydrogen turbine to generate electricity, and could also serve as clean transportation fuel.

The first Energy Earthshot, the Hydrogen Shot launched in 2021, seeks to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per kilogram in 1 decade. This is an ambitious initiative, since current costs of clean hydrogen are much higher. For example, electrolytic generation of hydrogen using renewable electricity costs at least $6 per kilogram.

Worldwide, about half of all hydrogen production is from reforming of natural gas (mainly steam methane reforming or SMR), with the remainder deriving from gasification of liquid and solid feedstocks such as coal, petcoke, and petroleum residuals, from oil as a byproduct, and with a few percent from electrolysis. Syngas from gasification already contains a significant amount of hydrogen, which can be increased through water gas shift (WGS) and separated into a pure hydrogen product meeting industry product quality standards. There are several conventional hydrogen separation processes, with the well-proven and moderate cost pressure swing adsorption (PSA) methods commonly chosen. PSA has the ability to produce high purity (99.9%) hydrogen at near feed pressure; however, relatively high hydrogen concentration in feed gases is required for its economics to remain favorable.

For either natural gas reforming or gasification routes, hydrogen production costs are lower than the electrolytic route, but the challenge is that the carbon footprint of conventional hydrogen production is large, as shown in the following table:


Hydrogen product (kg/h)

CO2 product (kg/h)

CO2 emitted in stack gas (kg/h)

Carbon intensity kg CO2/kg H2

SMR w/ 90% capture





Coal gasification w/ 90% capture





Carbon Intensities of SMR and Coal Gasification-based Hydrogen Production (with 90% capture)

If all CO2 produced in these processes is emitted, and CO2 footprint ranges from about 10 to 20 times the mass of the hydrogen produced. Only 0.7% of fossil fuel-based hydrogen production is currently performed in conjunction with carbon capture and storage.2

The gasification route to hydrogen presents an opportunity to use low-cost and liability feedstocks including biomass, solid wastes, and waste coal, which could help reduce the environmental costs and liabilities of solid waste disposal and legacy waste impoundments. Carbon-neutral biomass feedstocks significant reduce the carbon footprint of gasification, and combined with high levels of carbon capture facilitated by high syngas concentrations of CO2 and hydrogen characteristic of efficient gasification processes, production of clean hydrogen from gasification could be a compelling option in the emerging decarbonized economy.


  Note then on the Moon, either the hydrogen is already free, or it can be obtained by the water-gas shift reaction that obtains for the low cost chemical production methods used on Earth. But now this can be considered clean production, at least in regards to Earth, in that the CO2 released would be on the Moon.

 As for energy generation actually solar or nuclear generation would not be needed. The materials for energy generation would be available in the Moon's regolith, according to the LCROSS results. See here:.

 You see there are abundances listed for H2 and H2O and CO and CO2 but nothing for O2 for combustion. Oxygen could be obtained from high temperature burning of lunar rocks, but this is energy intensive. We want an energy production method that does not require high energy input in the first place.

 One possibility might be to use the free magnesium Mg seen in the LCROSS data. Magnesium can burn in CO2 without requiring oxygen:

The General Chemistry Demo Lab
Reaction Of Magnesium Metal With Carbon Dioxide.

  Another possibility would be to use the free sodium Na seen by LCROSS. Sodium reacts explosively with water releasing heat and also hydrogen, so this might provide an additional method of producing hydrogen.

 Robert Clark

Monday, August 14, 2023

SpaceX should withdraw its application for the Starship as an Artemis lunar lander.

 Copyright 2023 Robert Clark

 In the blog post, "SuperHeavy+Starship have the thermal energy of the Hiroshima bomb. UPDATED". I noted the thermal energy content of both stages is comparable to the explosive force of the Hiroshima bomb, ca. 15 kilotons of TNT. However, it is quite important to keep in mind that NASA uses estimates of the explosive force of a possible rocket explosion that is some fraction of what the total thermal energy might be. Based on this, I estimated the explosive force might actually be in the range of 3.4 to 5.4 kilotons. This is as much as 5 times higher than the explosive force attributed to the famous Soviet N-1 rocket failures at ca. 1.2 kilotons. 

 To get an idea of the enormity of 1.2 kilotons explosive force, and remembering also an SH/ST explosion might be as much as 5 times more powerful, look at the case of the Beirut explosion of 2020. This was not a rocket explosion but of ammonium nitrate but its estimated explosive force was about that of N-1 rocket at ca. 1.1 kilotons.


 In the explosion, homes as far away as 10 kilometers were damaged and the terminals at the Beirut airport 10 km away suffered moderate damage with some doors and windows blown out.

 Note now populated areas such as Port Isabel consisting of thousands of residents are within 10 km of the SH/ST launch site, and an explosion of this rocket might be 5 times more powerful than the Beirut explosion.

 In my blog post, I argued that not sufficient attention was being given to the possibility of an explosion by either the FAA or NASA. I wrote to one of NASA's safety offices and was told the safety of commercial launches is not the purview of NASA, but of the FAA. But when NASA is depending on that the commercial rocket to complete the planned flagship space program of NASA they have a responsibility to ensure that rocket is being developed safely as well.

 With the failure of the April 20th test flight of the Superheavy/Starship fortunately now both NASA and the FAA are giving closer scrutiny of the safety of the rocket as it should be.

The Superheavy/Starship actually is the N-1 rocket.

 The explosive force of the N-1 rocket, comparable to that of the devastating Beirut explosion, serves as a cautionary tale for those in the space industry. The comparison has been made of the SpaceX SuperHeavy/Starship approach to the Soviet multiple failed N-1 rocket in that they both wanted to test by actually flying the full rocket until it works, despite the number of failures. 

 This comparison was criticized on the grounds the N-1 engines were not tested individually. Instead, the engineers on the N-1 selected an engine at random from a batch to see if that worked. If it worked the entire batch was chosen. The engines could not be tested individually because the testing was destructive. That engine could not be used if it were first tested.

 The SpaceX Raptor engines on the other hand are tested individually. But here’s the major failing of the Raptor: even if the engine is tested successfully there is still a quite high chance the engine will still fail when used on a flight. That is a major flaw in a rocket engine. No rocket engine would be considered successfully developed with that flaw.

 Because of the numerous failures of the Raptor both on the test stand and in short test hops of the Starship landing methods prior to the April test flight, I estimated the chance of engine failures of the SuperHeavy/Starship test flight was 1 out of 3. SpaceX claimed prior to the April test flight their Raptor 2 was more reliable. The result? Only 1 in 4 of the engines failed. That is still a stunningly high percentage. As a point of comparison it would be like on every flight of the Falcon 9 the expectation would be at least two of the engines would fail during each flight.

 The upshot of this in a very real sense the Super/Starship is just like the failed Soviet N-1 in flying with engines with poor reliability.

 It is my contention the attempt of SpaceX trying to reach a 2025 deadline to have the SH/SS flying and with multiple successful test flights completed puts undue pressure on its normal safety procedures. For that reason my opinion is it should withdraw the Starship for consideration as a lander for the Artemis III lander mission.

   Robert Clark

Friday, August 11, 2023

Possibilities for a single launch architecture of the Artemis missions, Page 3: Saving the lander mission for Artemis III.

 Copyright 2023 Robert Clark

  I discussed a possible single-launch lunar lander architecture here:

Possibilities for a single launch architecture of the Artemis missions, Page 2: using the Boeing Exploration Upper Stage.

 The SpaceX delay in the Starship HLS development has led to NASA considering that Artemis might not even be a lander mission. This leaves open the possibility to save the lander mission for the Artemis III mission alternative methods for landers should be considered.

 Plus, there is the fact many knowledgeable space aficionados from the old days really do not like the SpaceX plan of using 8 to 16 refueling flights just for one lunar lander mission.

 This plan for a replacement lander could be done rather quickly and at low cost because it would use already existing space assets. Also, it would be done by our European partners so would not require NASA expenditures using all European space components. That would save $3 billion that NASA would have had to pay to SpaceX for their lander.

 This would involve even greater European involvement in successfully accomplishing the Artemis missions than just Orion’s service module so would undoubtedly get enthusiastic support from the ESA.

 It is notable that the ESA has expressed even greater support for lunar colonization plans than even NASA. This ESA produced lunar lander would allow them to further their own plans for a sustained human presence on the Moon.

 About ESA’s ATV-derived service module for Orion, that again would require low cost modifications in this plan. It would need just an addition 10 tons of propellant, which would fit easily within a service module diameter expanded to match the Orion’s diameter. Again this cost would be covered by our European partners, with no expenditure by NASA.

 Those two factors would be the easiest aspects of the plan. It might be difficult to believe a lunar lander would be among the “easiest” parts of the plan. But keep it mind it would be derived from already existing space assets.

 The trickiest aspects of the plan would be the fact the SLS would require higher payload capability to allow for the higher propellant load of the service module of 10 tons and a ca. 15 ton mass lunar lander.

 One possibility, keeping the Boeing EUS, is to put atop it a third stage consisting of the 50-ton Centaur V, as discussed in, "Possibilities for a single launch architecture of the Artemis missions, Page 2: using the Boeing Exploration Upper Stage."

 However,  I’m still not convinced the Boeing EUS is the best way to go because of its expense and its small size. If a cryogenic upper stage at a propellant load of ca. 200 ton size instead of the Boeing EUS ca. 125 tons were used, then this larger upper stage itself could do TLI burn carrying the Orion, larger SM, and ca. 15 tons lunar lander.

 I discuss here how such a larger cryogenic stage could be done in a much cheaper fashion than the Boeing EUS approach:  

Why does the Boeing Exploration Upper Stage(EUS) cost so much?

 I call this the trickiest aspect of the plan because Boeing has shown repeated delays in getting the core stage ready so the same might happen with their EUS stage, especially when it would have to be moved up to be ready by the 2025 Artemis III launch date, instead of on Artemis IV in 2028. As for the extra Centaur V third stage, since it is expected to first launch this year, likely it will have several launches under its belt by a 2025 Artemis III launch date.

 Note though a MAJOR reason why the development of the different versions of the SLS was arranged as it was was because of cost reasons. The development of the Boeing EUS was pushed back to delay paying for its wildly overpriced development costs. Note too not having to pay for the SpaceX Starship lander would save NASA $3 billion.

 Boeing’s charge to NASA for the EUS is a key reason why I prefer the simpler approach for an upper stage of just basing it on the core with fewer barrel rings. 

This would also give us the stage more cheaply and more quickly since it involves just using fewer rings on the tanks. If you have ever watched the video of construction taking place at the SpaceX development site, barrel rings of the tanks on the Starship and SuperHeavy are swapped out, replaced, taken-off and put back routinely.

 You’ve heard the mantra of former NASA administrator Dan Goldin, “faster, better, cheaper”? This would be "faster, better, cheaper, and simpler".

 Since this is of different design though that also brings into question its availability by a 2025 launch date. Note that this plan involves several new components. For that reason, we might want to use Artemis III as an unmanned test lander mission. We might even have it be “manned” by human-like robots, with their operation controlled from the ground on Earth.

 In this regard it is notable that several lines of evidence suggest that there might be valuable metals at the lunar South Pole, the planned location for the Artemis III landing. Indeed, the untold trillions of dollars of valuable metals speculated to exist in the main-asteroid belt on 16 Psyche might already exist just next door at the Moon's south pole! I discuss this here:

U.S. will lag behind in utilization of resources on the Moon.

 By the way, the title there stems from my dismay that the U.S. rovers to the South Polar location won’t have instruments for detecting heavy metals but the rovers from other countries will. This is such an obvious thing to include, especially when other countries will include them, that it’s mystifying why the U.S. chose not to include them.

 In any case, it would be pretty cool seeing human-like robotic astronauts prospecting for valuable metals at their landing site.

The ESA produced lunar lander I suggest using is of Apollo-like size at ca. 15 tons. But its crew module volume would be much larger as it is based on the Cygnus capsule, given life support. The Apollo lunar lander had a 6.7 cubic meter internal volume. But the Cygnus has an 18.9 internal volume, nearly 3 times that of the Apollo LEM and the expanded version of the Cygnus has a 27 cubic meter internal volume.

 But as for sending cargo or habitats to the Moon, the SLS is far too expensive, $2 billion+ per launch, and at too low flight cadence, at best 1 once per year, for that purpose. 

 Better to use lower cost launchers such as the Falcon Heavy for the purpose. I estimate using all hydrolox in-space stages, given low-boiloff tech, the FH could get 15 tons one-way to the lunar surface. 

 Using hydrolox only for the TLI burn but a storable propellant lander stage (so no low-boiloff tech needed), the FH could get 10 tons to the lunar surface.

Robert Clark

Monday, August 7, 2023

Possibilities for a single launch architecture of the Artemis missions, Page 2: using the Boeing Exploration Upper Stage.

 Copyright 2023 Robert Clark

  A comparison between the Apollo and Orion capsules:

 Rarely has a design mistake been so clearly illuminated by a single picture. Note the Orion capsule is nearly double the size of the Apollo capsule in mass. But rather than making Orion’s Service Module twice as big as the Apollo Service Module, as it should be to get similar performance, instead it is smaller by 1/3rd.

 Orion’s service module is based on ESA’s ATV cargo tug to the ISS, which had a 4.5 meter diameter and a 10 ton propellant load.


 If instead the diameter was made to match the capsule’s diameter, as was the case with Apollo, there would be an additional 20 cubic meters of volume inside the Service Module, well more than enough to hold an additional 10 tons of the storable propellant used.

And that is all that is needed to solve THE major problem of the SLS/Orion approach: the fact it can’t send the Orion and a lunar lander to low lunar orbit, and bring the Orion back to Earth again.

 It is because of that the idea of the lunar Gateway was proposed, where the SLS would only have to take the Orion to a further out orbit.

 But if instead the Service Module was given that additional 10 tons of propellant then it could send both the Orion and a ca. 15 ton lunar lander to low lunar orbit, and have enough propellant left over to bring the Orion back to Earth, a la the Apollo architecture.

 Rarely, has a mistake been so clearly exposed, especially when its solution is so clearly made apparent as well.

 In the blog posts, "ESA Needs to Save NASA's Moon Plans", and "Possibilities for a single launch architecture of the Artemis missions", I wrote about getting a single launch format for the Artemis lunar lander missions by using the Ariane 5 as an upper stage or by using two Centaur V stages as the upper stage for the SLS, respectively.

 This stemmed from dislike of the plan NASA was endorsing of using multiple flights and refuelings of the SpaceX Starship as the lander. I also objected to the high cost projected for the planned Boeing Exploration Upper Stage(EUS), being nearly half the cost of the entire SLS per flight, nearly $1 billion.

 However, NASA has negotiated a better price structure for the EUS. And it appears NASA is wedded to the Boeing EUS. Then I'll discuss a single launch architecture using the Boeing EUS upper stage.

 The payload to LEO of this version of the SLS with the Boeing EUS, which is version Block 1B, will be 105 tons to LEO. The current fueled mass of the Orion+Service Module is 26.5 tons. An additional 10 tons of propellant will bring it to 36.5 tons. 

 In the blog post, "A low cost, lightweight lunar lander", I discussed a lunar lander at a 13-ton total fueled mass based on the Cygnus capsule given life support as the crew module, and the Ariane 5 EPS storable propellant stage as the propulsive stage for the lander.

Calculations for the delta-v to the Moon and back.

 The Orion with its fully fueled service module has a mass of 26.5 tons. The propellant load of the service module is ~10 tons, with 16.5 total tons dry mass of the Orion and service module. We'll add an additional 10 tons propellant to the service module to bring the total mass to 36.5 tons, including 20 tons of propellant.

 The AJ-10 engine used has a vacuum ISP of 319s. We'll assume a fueled lunar lander of size ~13 tons, as described in the blog post, "A low cost, lightweight lunar lander", comparable in size to the Apollo missions lunar lander. So, a 16.5 + 13 = 29.5 ton mass for the vehicles that need to be put in low lunar orbit. But remember also we need to have some propellant left over in the service module to bring the Orion back home to Earth.

 For the delta-v calculation, after the SLS places the Orion/Service Module/lunar lander stack in trans-lunar injection(TLI) towards the Moon, we need 0.9 km/s to put the stack into low lunar orbit. This requires 13 tons of propellant, leaving 7 tons remaining:
319*9.81Ln(1 + 13/(29.5 +7)) = 0.950 km/s. The lunar lander will then be launched to land on the Moon while the Orion and service module remain in lunar orbit.

 After the lander mission is completed, the lander returns the astronauts to the Orion in lunar orbit, and the lander is then jettisoned. The Orion's service module is then fired to bring the Orion back to Earth. After lander jettison, the dry mass of the Orion and service module will be 16.5 tons. Then the 7 tons of remaining propellant is sufficient to perform the trans-Earth injection(TEI) burn of 900 m/s to escape lunar orbit and place the spacecraft back onto the free return trajectory back to Earth:

319*9.81Ln(1 + 7/16.5) = 1,100 m/s. 

 So the total mass that needs to be sent to trans lunar injection(TLI) on a path to encounter the Moon is 36.5 + 13 = 49.5 tons. Now use the rule-of-thumb that a Centaur-like hydrolox stage can send to TLI at a 3,000 m/s required delta-v a payload mass equal to its propellant load.

 So use for a third stage atop the Boeing EUS the Centaur V at an 50 ton propellant load and 5 ton dry mass. This then results in a total mass to LEO of 104.5 tons consisting of the 55 tons of the Centaur V plus the 49.5 tons of the Orion capsule/Service Module/lunar lander, within the lift capacity of the SLS Block 1B to LEO.

  Robert Clark

Friday, August 4, 2023

U.S. will lag behind in utilization of resources on the Moon.

 Copyright 2023 Robert Clark

 Quite annoying that NASA won’t be including any instruments on the VIPER lander at the lunar South pole to detect heavy metals, only ones for detecting water and light elements. Nor will the Astrobotic Peregrine commercial lander. 

 The LCROSS mission provided tantalizing hints of valuable metals from its orbital observations: 

Moon Blast Reveals Lunar Surface Rich With Compounds.
Science Oct 21, 2010 2:05 PM EDT.
There is water on the moon … along with a long list of other compounds, including, mercury, gold and silver. That’s according to a more detailed analysis of the chilled lunar soil near the moon’s South Pole, released as six papers by a large team of scientists in the journal, Science Thursday.

 And a Japanese lunar orbiter gave indications of uranium: 

Uranium could be mined on the Moon. Uranium could one day be mined on the Moon after a Japanese spacecraft discovered the element on its surface.
By Julian Ryall in Tokyo 4:58PM BST 01 Jul 2009.
The space probe Kaguya detected the radioactive element in samples of the Moon's surface with a gamma-ray spectrometer, along with thorium, potassium, magnesium, silicon, calcium, titanium and iron.
The discovery opens up the possibility of mining operations on a commercial basis or even nuclear power plants being constructed on the Moon.

 Note that one of the locations the urianium was detected was the mysterious South Pole Aitken impact basin.

 The later Surveyor landers to the Moon by NASA since the 60’s all contained x-ray spectrometers(XRF) for detecting heavy elements. And all of the Mars landers since the Viking landers in the 70’s either had XRF spectrometers or more accurate alpha-proton x-ray spectrometers(APXS) for detecting heavy elements.

 Moreover, both the just launched Indian lunar south polar lander and Chinese lander to lunar south pole will contain a detector for heavy elements.

The upcoming lunar lander from Japan will also include an X-ray spectrometer for detecting heavy metals:

Japan gearing up to launch small moon lander next month.
By Andrew Jones published about 17 hours ago.
SLIM is scheduled to lift off on Aug. 25.
Also joining the lunar ride will be the X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission, or XRISM, a JAXA-NASA collaborative mission that also involves participation from the European Space Agency.

 This lander will not be to the lunar South Pole but this still confirms the point that every other lander to ANY space body, including asteroids and comets, always contains detectors for measuring heavy elements.

Even the little Sojouner rover on the Mars Pathfinder mission had its own alpha-proton x-ray(APXS) spectrometer for measuring heavy elements:

 The APXS is the round instrument in front.

 The Sojourner rover only weighed 25 lbs, 11 kg, and only needed 15 watts to run on, which can be supplied by a few oz of rechargeable lithium batteries. So the weight and power requirements for the APXS instrument itself would have been much smaller than that still.

 It’s really unfathomable that the U.S.’s landers VIPER and Astrobotic Peregrine to the lunar South Pole will be the only ones to ANY space body, probably numbering into the couple of dozen now, that won’t have instruments for detecting heavy elements.

 There’s no guarantee that India or China will share with the U.S. the discovery by their landers of valuable metals or other minerals on the Moon. They would probably figure if the U.S. didn’t see the importance of including such instruments on their own  missions to the lunar South Pole, then that’s their problem.

 These landers to the lunar south pole may return literally world-changing results. There has been speculation that the metal containing asteroid Psyche may contain many trillions of dollars of valuable metals.

 Then in this regard quite notable is this:

Weird 'Anomaly' at the Moon's South Pole May Be a Metal Asteroid's Grave
By Meghan Bartels published June 10, 2019

 I mentioned at least two independent orbital missions that observed valuable minerals specifically at the lunar South Pole, LCROSS and Kaguya. This article concerns another lunar orbital mission mission, GRAIL, measuring gravity variations on the Moon, that found intense gravity at the South Pole Aitken impact basin. The researchers suggested it was from the impact of a large asteroid, actually a Ceres-sized dwarf planet, emplacing heavy metals there. If so, then it conceivably could have been an asteroid of the Psyche-type containing trillions of dollars of valuable metals.

 Conceivably, the trillions of dollars of valuable metals speculated to be on Psyche could already be just next door!

  Robert Clark

A route to aircraft-like reusability for rocket engines.

  Copyright 2024 Robert Clark   A general fact about aircraft jet engines may offer a route to achieve aircraft-like reusability for rockets...