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Some scientists believe there are large amounts of WATER on the moon, mainly on its poles, as a result of comets' crashes. We can't know IF and how much water there is on the moon until further and better orbital reconnaissance and robotic surface exploration will be accomplished.
Personally, I doubt any water will be found on the moon OR should be not so easy and cheap to extract, however, if any lunar water will be, it could completely change to-day's sortie-only ESAS plans and will give the opportunity to very long lunar explorations missions, several outposts, etc. thanks to the water itself and unlimited oxygen and LOX/LH2 propellents from solar powered water splitting.
Build thousands miles pipelines on the moon, from water sources to lunar outposts, with heavy hardware sent from earth costs like several ISS and need years of risky work for the astronauts (not to mention its maintenance!) while, use a small rover to carry enough water for many (or just a few) outposts is MUCH MORE RISKY for the astronauts, since, that option, needs (literally) THOUSANDS travels with the rover, each hundreds miles long.
Apart of the giant risk of EACH of that travels, they will consume great part of the astronauts' (precious and very expensive) "exploration time" so, the only viable option is to send on the moon a few "LUNAR TRUCKS" (with big tanks for the lunar water) able to carry dozens tons of water per travel (reducing the total number of sources-to-outposts travels from several thousands to a few hundreds, or less).
The latter is the ONLY rational choice, but, if the lunar water will be abundant/easy to extract and the outposts too much, the real problem will be "HOW TO STORE IT", unfortunately, send hundreds big tanks from earth is very very very expensive, since, any kind of hardware landed on the moon, will cost OVER $100M per mT for the AresV hardware, its shared R$D costs, the shared annual AresV launch support costs, the cargo-LSAM, the high-tech water tank, etc.
Send water tanks on the moon, at this price, means they will cost HUNDREDS TIMES the lunar ISRU water they'll store!!!
To solve this unrational paradox, I suggest to use the small CRATERS near the outposts, labs and launch sites to store the lunar-water carried with the big "lunar-trucks" from ISRU sources to the outposts.
The crater's beds must be sealed with a plastic material (best if sent from earth in liquid state, as two chemical components that solidify when mixed) or with a solar powered high temperature rocks' foundry that create a waterproof crystallized layer.
But the main problem to solve is the lunar surface temperatures in the night (-153/-233°C) and day (+107/+123°C) that need a thermal (nuclear?) source to liquefy the ice (to use the water in the night, if necessary) and a protection to avoid the water's boil-off in the day.
It could be solved using a thin reflective metallic cover, with the help of one or more solar powered coolers (not big coolers, since they must decrease the water's temperature just a few dozens degrees below the boiling point).
Below in this page you can see an artist's image of a Lunar Lake full of lunar water, and... yes, the lunar water can't be blue without the earth's bly sky... however, the blu surface looks better in the picture... the gold area of the lake is the part protected with the reflective metallic cover.
I've never seen a similar proposal on the web, so, I think/believe my idea of Lunar Lakes is NEW and original... unfortunately, WITHIN A FEW MONTHS (just wait to see!) a big Space Agency (or a big Aerospace Company or a small Private Company or an engineers/forums "Word & Photoshop" Lobby or a Search Engine Company) will announce THE SAME CONCEPT as its own "new idea" that (of course...) they have "developed internally" or "thought years ago" (but never revealed!) and (nearly) ALL the Press will believe (or, PREFER to believe) them... like happened with this...
*** $ 30 million prize ***
October 20 - 2007
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Copyright © 2007 Gaetano Marano - All rights reserved - the base image used for the Lunar Lake is © NASA