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Lunar base sitingAs with any planetary body, the lunar surface is quite heterogeneous. There are widely dispersed sites of particular interest for known and potential resource availability, selenology, and lunar observatories. Discriminating characteristics include solar illumination, view of earth, local topography, engineering properties of the regolith and certain geological features, and local mineralogy and petrology. Space vehicle arrival and departure trajectories constitute a minor consideration. Over time, a variety of base sites will be developed serving different purposes. Resource-driven sites may see the fastest growth during the first decades of lunar development, but selection of the most favorable sites is likely to be driven by suitability for a combination of activities. As on earth, later development may be driven by geographical advantages of surface transportation routes. With the availability of near-constant sunlight for power generation, as well as permanently shadowed areas at cryogenic temperatures, polar sites are attractive because they require substantially less earth-launched mass and lower equipment complexity for an initial permanent base. Discovery of accessible volatiles reservoirs, either in the form of polar permafrost or gas reservoirs at other locations, would dramatically increase the attractiveness of any site from a logistical support and selenological point of view. Amid such speculation, no reliable evidence of such volatiles exist. More reliable evidence exists for areas of certain mineral concentrations, such as ilmenite, which could form a feedstock for some proposed resource extraction schemes. While tentative selections of advantageous base sites are made, new data from lunar polar orbiters and the Galileo polar flybys would be very helpful.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Staehle, Robert L.
(Jet Propulsion Lab. California Inst. of Tech., Pasadena., United States)
Dowling, Richard
(World Space Foundation Pasadena, CA., United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1991
Publication Information
Publication: Arizona Univ., Resources of Near-Earth Space: Abstracts
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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