Luna's prime real-estate and how to seize it


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/08/12/lunas-prime-real-estate-and.html


#2

Wouldn’t it also be easy to move somewhere more quiet if need be? I presume it also doesn’t have to observe 24/7. There are ways of working around the problem.


#3

Yeah, the lunar south pole is a lousy place to build a radio telescope because it is sometimes in sight of Earth, which is always radiating gobs of radio interference thanks to our civilization. Put the telescope on the lunar farside, where it will never get any interference from terrestrial broadcasts. With solar panels It can observe 24/7 for two weeks out of every four, longer if you give it a big bank of batteries for when the sun goes down.

Eta: considering that the sun is also a big radiator of radio waves, it’s probably most desirable to use the telescope at night/ in the shade anyway, so siting it on those perpetually sunny peaks would be even more of a bad idea.


#4

Someone appears to have not done their math. From the linked article:

[quote]
The dream scenario is to find a Peak of Eternal Light close to a Crater of Everlasting Darkness. In that case, a lunar mission based on this spot has access to continuous cheap power to mine the water there. Such a location is likely to be hugely valuable and highly sought after because it allows the industrial development of the moon. “This combination is also extremely rare on the moon and it is the power supply that is scarcest of the pair,” say Elvis and co.[/quote]

So the issue is these tiny peaks that get near-permanent sun. How big are they? How much power would they deliver? In an interview Elvis says they comprise, in total, “a few football fields”. Assume 10 hectares, and assume you can blanket these areas with solar panels.

A bit of googling reveals you can count on 1 gigawatt-hour of power per year per hectare of PV panels on earth (climate not specified), and a multiplier of 3 for the advantage of having your solar panels in space (no clouds, no night, no atmosphere) vs a dry sunny desert on earth. 1 gigawatt hour per year equals 114kw per hour, if i did my math right. So our 10 hectare solar power installation on the moon will deliver 30 times that, around 3,500 kilowatts per hour.

That’s tons if you’re powering some robotic rovers, and maybe even enough for a small manned research station. But for any industrial use, like water ice mining, it’s completely and utterly inadequate.

And we are assuming it’s even possible to fully cover all those lunar ridges with solar panel installations. Lots of them are going to be knife ridges at the top of steep slopes, kinda tricky to build on. Also, if those “a few football fields” are split between the north and south poles, as I suspect they are, we need to halve the power output numbers above.

PS: It’s totally possible to power a polar lunar mining base, without messing around with those tiny ridges. Run power lines from the pole to 3 solar power installations a hundred or so Km from the pole, equally separated in longitude. At least one power station will always be in sunlight, and you can build as many hundreds or thousands of hectares of solar panels as you need to power your mining operation.


#5

can’t we just Le Grange the damn wire?


#6

I’m just not sure it’s going to be ready in time.


#7

According to this, probably:


#8

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