Clementine final checks



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  • The Clementine satellite undergoes final checks in this 1993 photograph. The satellite was built by the staff of the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C. The recent interpretation of data from the Clementine spacecraft mission, a joint Ballistic Missile Defense Organization/NASA venture, has revealed that deposits of ice could exist in permanently dark regions near the South Pole of the Moon. Initial estimates suggest that the ice deposit area is the size of small lake (60 to 120 thousand cubic meters), and that the lunar crater containing the ice deposit has a depth greater than the height of Mount Everest, and a rim circumference twice the size of Puerto Rico. The discovery of ice on the Moon has enormous implications for the potential return of humans to the Moon's surface and the establishment of a permanent lunar station. The lunar ice could be mined and dissociated into hydrogen and oxygen by electric power provided by solar panels or a nuclear generator, providing both breathable oxygen and potable water for the permanent station on the Moon. Hydrogen and oxygen are also prime components of rocket motor fuel and could potentially result in the establishment of a lunar filling station making transport to or from the Moon more economical by at least a factor of ten. The Clementine spacecraft was launched aboard a Titan II missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Jan. 25, 1994. Its primary military mission was to qualify lightweight sensor and camera technology for possible application for ballistic missile defense programs, but it also demonstrated a capability for low-cost, high-value space exploration missions. DoD photo.

Public domain This image is a work of a U.S. military or Department of Defense employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

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Public Domain


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