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Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Ideal Moonbase Spot

Ideal moonbase spot.
Ideal moonbase spot.
Credit: US Naval Research Laboratory
(MSNBC) - Two sharp-eyed investigators using radar astronomy imagery and photos of the moon snapped by the U.S. Defense Departmentís Clementine orbiter have pinpointed the best place to help kick-start a 21st-century program of lunar exploration and utilization. The site, Malapert Mountain, is located 76 miles (122 kilometers) from the moonís south pole. This ideal spot - unlike any other area on Luna - has been highlighted as being suitable for astronomy and communications relay purposes, and perfect to help foster commercial development of the moon. A central attribute of 16,400-foot-high (5,000-meter-high) Malapert Mountain is that it basks in sunlight more than 90 percent of the time. The site is power-rich thanks to that constant rain of sun, enough to energize habitats and keep all manner of high-tech gear humming along. In addition, Malapert Mountain is the master of its domain. From the mountain peak, a staggering view of the lunar south polar region is available. That lunar terrain is thought to hold a reservoir of frozen water ice, pocketed in deep craters that never see a ray of warming sunlight. Transforming such a resource into drinkable water, breathable oxygen and rocket propellant could radically alter a now-dead moon, turning it into a lively location for human exploration. Europe too has given the once-over to the mountain. The European Space Agencyís EuroMoon 2000 project also pointed out that Malapert Mountain was a place of uninterrupted power and communications. The sun is above the horizon for all but 35 to 40 days a year, every year. "A real estate developer would want dibs on this more than any other place up there," Sharpe concluded."There are big priorities for going into space. You need communications and power. So finding a site that gives you both continuous communications and the longest period of sunlight... itís a dream situation," said Schrunk.

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- posted by Alex @ 22:28 EST