An Exclusive Interview with the Author of “Dust Mites”

June 9, 2022

Bacon’s Rebellion was lucky enough to snag an interview with “Dust Mites” author Jim Bacon. As he is the blog contributor most familiar with the book, Bacon interviewed himself. — JAB

JAB: Thank you so much for granting this interview, Mr. Bacon. First, let’s dispense with formalities. Do you go by James?

JAB: Jim would be fine.

JAB: Your novel is set in the year 2075 when there are numerous American colonies on the Moon. The colonies — one in particular, Galileo Station — is chafing under the imperial rule of an out-of-touch Congress and imperial presidency in Washington, D.C. Do you think that’s a plausible scenario?

JAB: I picked the year 2075, only 53 years from now, for literary reasons. I was deliberately playing on the parallels with the American Revolution. The incident that precipitates the action in the novel — the dispatch of the U.S. Marshal’s Special Operations Group into the underground city of Galileo Station to arrest its governor to stand trial — plays a role analogous to the events at Lexington and Concord in sparking a rebellion.

While the date may be arbitrary, let me advance a few propositions: (1) human exploration of the Moon will be commonplace by the end of the decade; (2) colonization of the Moon for scientific, military and economic imperatives will soon follow; and (3) tensions inevitably will arise between the U.S. colonies and the imperial power. It is not implausible to think that the central government in Washington, D.C., will continue to accumulate power over the next half century and become more assertive and more authoritarian than ever. more “An Exclusive Interview with the Author of “Dust Mites””

The Most Fuel-Efficient Route to the Moon May Not Be a Straight Line

May 26, 2022

NASA soon will test a circuitous route to the Moon that takes its microwave oven-sized CubeSat satellite nearly a million miles into deep space to take advantage of gravitational forces that will allow it to reach the Moon with less expenditure of energy, the space agency reports.

The route, called a “near rectilinear halo orbit” (NHRO) works well in NASA’s computer simulations. CAPSTONE, short for the Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations, will provide the first real-world test of NRHO dynamics. The mission is intended to support NASA’s Gateway, a multipurpose outpost that will support long-term lunar missions under the Artemis orbit.

While the gravity-driven track will longer to reach the Moon — four months — NASA says it will “dramatically reduce the amount of fuel this pathfinder CubeSat will need to fly there.” more “The Most Fuel-Efficient Route to the Moon May Not Be a Straight Line”

Data Centers in Lava Tubes — an Economic Driver for the Moon?

May 26, 2022

Lonestar Data Holdings, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., is closing $5 million in seed funding toward its goal of creating the ultimate in data-storage disaster recovery — with server farms located in lava tubes on the Moon.

The company has signed contracts to launch prototype demonstrations of its capabilities aboard lunar landers by the end of 2022. Lonestar will run a software-only test, storing a small big of data on an Intuitive Machines lander under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. The mission is expected to last one lunar day, or two Earth weeks.

A second launch scheduled for 2023 will send an Intuitive Machines lander to the Moon’s South Pole to drill for ice. Included in the package will be Lonestar’s first hardware prototype: a one-kilogram storage device, the size of a hardback novel, with 16 terabytes of storage, reports The Register. more “Data Centers in Lava Tubes — an Economic Driver for the Moon?”

More Moon Ice Than Ever Previously Imagined?

May 26, 2022
Shackleton Crater, of primary interest for its suspected water deposits.

Scientists with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) a the University of Colorado at Boulder think the Moon may be awash in far more water than scientists previously believed, reports Universe Today.

LASP researchers created computer models to recreate conditions early in the Moon’s history. They discovered that ancient lunar volcanoes spewed huge volumes of water vapor, which settled to the surface. In craters near the poles that are permanently exposed to the heat of the sun, the water froze froze. The study suggests that the water could measure dozens or even hundreds of feet thick in places.

“It’s possible that 5 or 10 meters below the surface, you have big sheets of ice,” says co-author Paul Hayne. “It’s a potential bounty for future moon explorers who will need water to drink and process into rocket fuel.”

The study builds on previous work that estimated 25,000 square miles of the lunar surface could be capable of trapping and hanging onto ice.

If an Astronaut Kills Another Astronaut, Who You Going to Call?

April 30, 2022
Canadian astronauts

What happens if a crime takes place on the Moon?

Well, Canada has amended its criminal code, reports Gizmodo, to allow for the prosecution of crimes committed by Canadian astronauts during trips to the Moon or on the lunar surface. Canada’s criminal code already covers crimes committed aboard the International Space Station.

This is not an entirely hypothetical concern. There are such things as Canadian astronauts. The Artemis 2 mission will include a Canadian astronaut, and Canada is contributing a robotic arm to the Lunar Gateway, a planned outpost around the Moon.

Governments normally assert judicial authority only over geographic areas that they control. No one claims control over lunar territory, much less cislunar space. Canada’s extension of its legal writ may set precedents for other governments.

What Are the Odds… of Getting Struck by a Meteoroid on the Moon?

April 12, 2022
A lunar crater measuring about 600 feet across. Credit: NASA/GSFC Arizona State University, via LiveScience

In 1954, 34-year-old Ann Hodges was napping at home in Sylacauga, Alabama, when a nine-pound meteorite smashed through her house’s ceiling, bounced off a radio, and hit her thigh, leaving a nasty bruise. She is the only person in recorded history to have been struck by a meteorite. The odds about getting hit are about one in 840 million. It helps that most space rocks — an estimated 95% — burn up in the atmosphere.

But what about the Moon where there is no atmosphere?

Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office — located in Alabama, as it turns out — has made the calculation. “The odds of an astronaut being hit by a millimeter-sized object is like 1 in 1 million per hour per person,” he tells LiveScience

That’s pretty infrequent — but a lot more common than the comparable odds on Earth.

The quantity cannot be calculated for “impactors” smaller than a millimeter, but Cooke estimates that between 11 to 1,100 tons — the mass of 5.5 cars — of dust collide with the Moon daily, LiveScience reports.

Cooke is more definitive about larger rocks. “There are about 100 pingpong-ball-sized meteoroids hitting the moon per day,” he says.

That adds up to roughly 33,000 meteoroids per year of a size sufficient to impact the lunar surface with the force of 7 pounds of dynamite.

Larger meteoroids hit the Moon too, but less frequently. A rock as big as 8 feet across plows into the Moon about once every four years on average, releasing roughly 1,000 tons of TNT-equivalent energy. The flash of light can be seen from Earth.

Given that that Moon’s surface is about 14.6 million square miles, Cooke says, “If you pick a square kilometer patch of ground, it will be hit by one of those pingpong-sized meteoroids once every thousand years or so.”

Let’s do some extra numbers crunching. Let’s say the Moon has been colonized and has a million inhabitants. And let’s say that, while most people spend most of their time in sheltered environments, at any given time 1,000 people are wandering about on the surface doing one thing or another. Using Cooke’s estimate, in any given hour, there would be a one in 1 thousand chance of someone being struck by a millimeter-sized meteoroid — which is big enough to kill. Over the course of a 24-hour day (that’s Earth days, not Moon days), there would be a 2.4% chance of someone getting clobbered. Over the course of a year, those numbers would mount to eight to nine people getting the Ann Hodges treatment.

There are likely bigger hazards on the Moon, but meteoroids are not to be ignored.

Do Small Magnetic Fields Protect Pockets of Lunar Ice?

April 11, 2022
This NASA Goddard map shows permanently shadowed craters near the Moon’s south pole. (Credit: LiveScience)

In 2018 scientists documented the first evidence of water ice on the Moon that was trapped in the bottom of craters at the north and south poles locked in perpetual shadow. Discovery of the ice created new questions. While the craters are protected from direct sunlight, they aren’t shielded from solar wind. The ionized particles from the Sun is highly erosive and, unlike the Earth, the Moon has no magnetic shield to protect it. By some peoples’ reckoning, the solar wind should have destroyed the ice long ago.

In research presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference last month, University of Arizona scientists shared their map of magnetic anomalies, regions of the lunar surface with unusually strong magnetic fields, reports LiveScience.

These anomalies may serve as tiny magnetic shields.”These anomalies can deflect the solar wind,” Lon Hood, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, told Science. “We think they could be quite significant in shielding the permanently shadowed regions.” more “Do Small Magnetic Fields Protect Pockets of Lunar Ice?”

Space-Based Solar Power Within Ten Years?

April 4, 2022
Illustration credit: Kevin Hand, Wall Street Journal

Some scientists and engineers say that solar energy could be captured in space and beamed to Earth as microwaves or laser beams within the next ten years, reports the Wall Street Journal in a special feature, “The Next Bets for Renewable Energy.”

“The basics are to put a large, very large platform in space, harvest sunlight, where the sun shines, essentially 99.95% of the time, and send it to markets on the ground, where, on average, the sun is shining only about 15% of the time,” says former NASA scientist John Mankins, president of Mankins Space Technology, a company working on developing a 1-mile-wide solar power satellite prototype that will use microwave beaming.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory has already tested the feasibility of transferring energy using microwave transmission, sending 1.6 kilowatts a distance of more than 0.6 miles. Japanese engineers have sent a comparable amount of energy the length of a football field. Meanwhile, the California Institute of Technology plans to test prototypes that can transfer power by means of a steerable microwave beam by the end of 2022. more “Space-Based Solar Power Within Ten Years?”

Protecting Mankind’s Cultural Heritage in Space

April 3, 2022
The first human footprint left on the surface of the Moon

Astronaut Neil Armstrong made history when he left the first dusty footprint on the Moon. The Moon landing was one of humanity’s greatest technological achievements but the marker remains unprotected by international law, writes Mercury News.

“Once you blow away the footprint, that’s gone,” said space archeologist Beth O’Leary of New Mexico State University, who is among a growing chorus of experts pleading for formal protection of historic lunar sites and artifacts.

“We need to say: ‘Don’t touch. You can’t go there. Period,’ ” said Sacramento-based Wayne Donaldson of the California Preservation Foundation.

Other historic mementoes include six U.S. flags, rigged with wire so they look like they’re saving in the breeze, as well as stainless steel commemorative plaques about the size of dinner plates. China and Russia also have implanted markets on the Moon. There are two golf balls hit by Apollo 14’s Alan Shepard, a Bible left on a dashboard of ab abandoned buggy… and bags of human waste — an estimated 400,000 pounds of stuff in all. more “Protecting Mankind’s Cultural Heritage in Space”

Challenges to Landing Spacecraft on the Moon

April 3, 2022
Image credit: NASA

Five Apollo expeditions landed spacecraft on the Moon without incident. One would think that a feat accomplished with 1969-era technology would be a cakewalk today. But landing people on the Moon remains an ambitious feat, writes Mashable.

“Just because we went there 50 years ago does not make it a trivial endeavor,” Csaba Palotai, the program chair of space sciences in the Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology, told the publication.

The article identifies three main challenges: more “Challenges to Landing Spacecraft on the Moon”