back to article NASA picks spot at Moon's South Pole to perform first ice-drilling experiment

NASA has selected a ridge close to Shackleton, a deep impact crater on the Moon's South Pole, to conduct its first-ever ice-water-mining expedition, which is expected to blast off late next year. NASA has grand plans for the Moon. The gray ball of rock could, one day, house a base station for astronauts to stay and refuel …

  1. DrBobK

    PR1ME and Nova

    Prime and Nova. Let's hope NASA aren't using these as the compute power for their new mission. I mean I liked the Data General Nova-3 I worked on in the 1970s, but even if they were reliable they are a bit old-tech now. I never got to use a PR1ME - too business oriented.

    1. Bartholomew Bronze badge

      Re: PR1ME and Nova

      There is a balancing act to the compute power, you could use the latest and greatest tech with enough graded-Z shielding, but the lifetime of your chips will be still be shorter. Or you can use the exact same graded-Z shielding and have your chips operational for multiple decades if you use older big chunky chips that are designed to gracefully handle SEU (Single Event Upsets). Nothing lasts forever and both will eventually fail due to TID (Total Ionizing Dose), and that is where bigger (older tech) is nearly always better.

      The best analogy would be continuously hitting a twig versus hitting the tree trunk with a peashooter or a BB gun, both will eventually fail but one will take much much longer. We sometimes forget how well we are shielded at sea level with 12 km of atmosphere above our heads, the Ozone layer to block all UV-C (breaks most organic bonds e.g. plastics, flesh) and the magnetosphere which funnels most charged particles to the poles or traps them in the Van Allen radiation belt.

  2. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "what potential lunar resources can be extracted"

    "Huston, the Locust is landing once again"

    I'm reminded of a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon of a couple of spherical boys on padded bunks. The caption went something like:

    "Johnny exploded last week - I wonder why"

    "Who cares? More for us!"

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nokia technology

    Well, the battery will last a month or more between charges.....

    1. Rob Daglish

      Re: Nokia technology

      Yes, but can you play snake on it?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do you need 4G on the Moon?

    Isn't the point of 4G and any other mobile standard all to do with managing shared access to the frequencies you've licensed on Earth? Surely on the Moon you can do what you like on whatever frequency suits you, because there's nobody else around to be bothered by it?

    Or is it just cheaper and easier to pick up an off-the-shelf component, albeit with unnecessary complexity? If that's the case then I'm not sure why NASA would want to boast about any aspect of it other than the cost saving, although the supplier might want to say more.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Why do you need 4G on the Moon?

      Round here we are shielded from all sorts of radiation by the magnetosphere, the moon does not have a significant magnetosphere (if any) so all sorts of radio frequency crap bombard the moon.

      Consequently a radio system either has to be powerful enough to punch through (Apollo era tech) or have robust error correction built in. 4G would seem to fit the bill nicely so why bother to develop new methods.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Before you start building colonies there

    NASA should read the RAH classic 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress'...

    1. Santa from Exeter

      Re: Before you start building colonies there

      Cue the computer on the next mission being called Adam Selene.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Before you start building colonies there

        FWIW, it was called Mycroft. Adam Selene was Mycrofts "nom de plume" as one of the leaders of the revolution :-)

  6. adam 40 Silver badge

    Terra Nova

    Let's hope it goes better then Scott's expedition to the South Pole

    At least Shackleton made it back alive, although he didn't get there.

  7. Jet Set Willy


    Sounds to me like a precursor mission to the film "Moon" becoming a reality

  8. Swarthy Silver badge

    That render...

    Is it just me or does that illustration look like a screen grab from Kerbal?

  9. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge


    "A small robot, known as Micro-Nova, will accompany it, and bounce over the lunar surface in fuel-efficient hops"

    Couldn't NASA come up with a suitable phase to fit "Tee Eye Double Grr ERR"?

  10. Dante Alighieri


    Real question :

    So, is it not possible to land a base unit on the permanently sunny side and have an umbilical/tether to a either a mobile rover unit or a secondary dark base with a mobile/rechargeable unit on the dark side [edison solution]

    Or go Tesla (Nikolai) and do wireless power transfer from a sunny base to the dark one..

    [JFSNG - use the shark mounted lasers to beam power directly to the moon, requires sharks in all oceans]

    icon because we are crossing one...

    1. JassMan

      Re: Terminator @Dante Alighieri

      Or thinking more outside the box why not just carry a mirror on the one in the sun. A mirror could power the the drilling robot for several years before the levels of dust made it ineffective, while converting sunlight to wireless power and beaming it round, means a massive decrease in efficiency and reliability. Sometimes old technology is still the best.

      I think the may just be a tiny price difference as well, so cost savings may allow extra experiments to be carried out.

      In fact if it is always in the sun, surely the weight of the mirror and solar panels on the mining robot would be less that the planned batteries, meaning it could carry more powerful motors. I guess it is too late for Prime-1 but when they send the next one, I hope they send me a beer with some of the money they save.

      Even if it is just one of these--->

  11. brainwrong

    Zoom on the Moon!

    "hopes of setting up a 4G/LTE system on the Moon at some point so that astronauts can stream high-definition video and keep in contact"

    I'd hate to think what the roaming charges will be!

  12. A Nother Handle

    Let's hope the residents don't think we're there to steal their soup.

    1. AdmFubar

      Or their cheese...

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