Since June 2009, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been circling the moon, compiling data for the first full topographic map of its surface. The data implies that 3.9 billion years ago asteroids pounded the moon (and the Earth), likely evaporating water supplies.
A Japanese construction firm has an illuminating idea to solve the planet’s energy problems: build a belt of solar panels 6,800 miles around the moon.
And the company says construction could begin as soon as 2035.
Tokyo-based Shimizu Corp. claims that its proposed “Luna Ring” could generate 13,000 terawatts of energy a year – far exceeding the United States’ 4,500 terawatts produced in 2011 – and eliminate Japan’s dependency on nuclear power, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The plan calls for material from the moon’s natural surface to be mined by robots to help create the panels. The belt, laid around the moon’s equator, would be 250 miles wide and would beam energy to “receiving stations” on Earth by way of lasers or microwave transmission.
“A shift from economical use of limited resources to the unlimited use of clean energy is the ultimate dream of mankind,” the company said on its website. “The Luna Ring … translates this dream into reality though ingenious ideas coupled with advanced space technologies.”
The company did not speculate how much the venture would cost, though it said construction work could get underway as soon as 2035 provided that adequate funding is secured.
The proposal follows heated discussion in Japan on the use of nuclear energy, which was widely prevalent in the country before the massive tsunami in early 2011 that crippled the Fukushima power plant.