Daily Archives: October 28th, 2009

ARES 1-X Re-try, Lunar Skylights and Watts on Tonnies

NASA is trying to launch the ARES 1-X test rocket again today: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html

The window is open from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. like yesterday.

Update: ARES 1-X launched at 11:30 a.m.

As far as I know, the mission profile was accomplished.

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Remember H.G. Wells’ 1964 movie about insect-men in the Moon called “The First Men in the Moon?” (It was based on his 1901 novel).

The ‘Selenite’ (name for moon-people) civilization existed in vast underground (under-regolith?) caverns and tunnels. Their civilization was powered by an immense perpetual motion machine and the air was made by water (they mined the surface for it) being broke down into its basic parts; hydrogen and oxygen.

Well, according to New Scientist, a ‘skylight’ that might possibly lead to a vast tunnel system has been discovered on the Moon’s surface:

A deep hole on the moon that could open into a vast underground tunnel has been found for the first time. The discovery strengthens evidence for subsurface, lava-carved channels that could shield future human colonists from space radiation and other hazards.

The moon seems to possess long, winding tunnels called lava tubes that are similar to structures seen on Earth. They are created when the top of a stream of molten rock solidifies and the lava inside drains away, leaving a hollow tube of rock.

Their existence on the moon is hinted at based on observations of sinuous rilles – long, winding depressions carved into the lunar surface by the flow of lava. Some sections of the rilles have collapsed, suggesting that hollow lava tubes hide beneath at least some of the rilles.

But until now, no one has found an opening into what appears to be an intact tube. “There’s sort of a chicken-and-egg problem,” says Carolyn van der Bogert of the University of Münster in Germany. “If it’s intact, you can’t see it.”

Finding a hole in a rille could suggest that an intact tube lies beneath. So a group led by Junichi Haruyama of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency searched for these “skylights” in images taken by Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft, which orbited the moon for almost two years before ending its mission in June.

Deep cave

The team found the first candidate skylight in a volcanic area on the moon’s near side called Marius Hills. “This is the first time that anybody’s actually identified a skylight in a possible lava tube” on the moon, van der Bogert, who helped analyse the feature, told New Scientist.

The hole measures 65 metres across, and based on images taken at a variety of sun angles, the the hole is thought to extend down at least 80 metres. It sits in the middle of a rille, suggesting the hole leads into a lava tube as wide as 370 metres across.

It is not clear exactly how the hole formed. A meteorite impact, moonquakes, or pressure created by gravitational tugs from the Earth could be to blame. Alternatively, part of the lava tube’s ceiling could have been pulled off as lava in the tube drained away billions of years ago.

Radiation shield

Finding such an opening could be a boon for possible human exploration of the moon (see What NASA’s return to the moon may look like).

Since the tubes may be hundreds of metres wide, they could provide plenty of space for an underground lunar outpost. The tubes’ ceilings could protect astronauts from space radiation, meteoroid impacts and wild temperature fluctuations (see Can high-tech cavemen live on the moon?).

“I think it’s really exciting,” says Penny Boston of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro. “Basalt is an extremely good material for radiation protection. It’s free real estate ready to be exploited and modified for human use.”

moonskylight.102809

This is most providential. First, the discovery of hydroxyl and water molecules covering most of the Moon’s surface, although only at a depth of a few centimeters (LCROSS crash “cloud” not withstanding), and now possible living spaces under the regolith.

It makes you wonder about all those ‘mysteries’ about the Moon, eh?

Found: first ‘skylight’ on the moon

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Author commenting about a deceased author:

mactThere’s this guy I almost knew, Mac Tonnies. A fan of my books, a writer of his own (I never read After the Martian Apocalypse, his book about the “Face on Mars”, but I read some of his short fiction), and a paradoxical amalgam of UFO buff and skeptic: someone who embraced the phenomenon while rejecting the usual extraterrestrial interpretations. He was more of a those-among-us type; I understand there’s a completed book in the wings that leans heavily towards the Cryptoterrestrial model (much of his interest in my own stuff hailed from his interest in alternate types of consciousness). Mac seemed to regard his place on the fringe with wry humor, and the habitat itself with tonnes of salt.  He didn’t let any of that cramp his propensity for wild speculation. I never really knew whether he was a flake or not; I’m no expert on UFOs. But I checked the rss feed for Post-Human Blues pretty much daily, with a mixture of eagerness and trepidation: eagerness because the dude always had a shitload of cool links to cutting-edge nuggets ranging from robotics to psychoactives, and trepidation because the fucker posted so many links that I could have easily spent a couple of hours every day just following the rabbit-holes planted on Mac Tonnies’s blog. I never met the man face to face: we came within a couple of provinces of each other when he was up in Halifax a while back, but there was never really any rush because we were bound to end up at the same con at the same time at some point. I run into all of you paranormal types eventually.

Except I won’t be running in Mac Tonnies, because he’s dead. Last Thursday, in his apartment, “natural causes”.

Watts elucidates as only Watts can.

The guy’s great!

So was Mac.

Post Human

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