Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Land for sale. . .on the Moon!

BBC News - Making a mint out of the Moon
From his office in Nevada, entrepreneur Dennis Hope has spawned a multi-million-dollar property business selling plots of lunar real estate at $20 (£10) an acre.

Mr Hope exploited a loophole in the 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty and he has been claiming ownership of the Earth's Moon - and seven planets and their moons - for more than 20 years.

[. . .]

Hope says he has so far sold more than 400 million acres (1.6m sq km), leaving a further eight billion acres still up for grabs.

Buyers include Hollywood stars, large corporations - including the Hilton and Marriot hotel chains - and even former US presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. George W Bush is also said to be a stake holder.
My guess is that this enterprise is similar to buying and naming a star and really amounts to nothing but a novelty for the purchaser. However, the story actually continues on to something much more important:
Data collected from the Apollo Moon landings have indicated that large deposits of an extremely rare gas called helium 3 are trapped in the lunar soil.

Scientists believe that this helium 3 could be used to create a new source of almost inexhaustible, clean, pollution-free energy on Earth.

One of them is Dr Harrison Schmitt, a member of the 1972 Apollo 17 mission and the only trained geologist ever to walk on the Moon.

"A metric ton of helium 3 would supply about one-sixth of the energy needs today of the British Isles," he claims.

Plans are already afoot in the US and Russia to strip-mine lunar helium 3 and transport it the 240,000 miles (385,000km) back to Earth.

The Moon, claims Prof Jerry Kulcinski of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, could become the Persian Gulf of the 21st Century.
I'm not sure what to think about this. On the one hand, alternatives fuels are a good thing. On the other hand, strip mining the moon doesn't sound like such a wise idea.

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