It is relatively expensive to get things from the Earth to the Moon. We know there are three Lunar Roving Vehicles (LRV) on the Moon and that there is some chance they could be made operational.

Are there significant amounts of food, fuel, water or other resources that make considering things other than the LRV's an object that might be a viable/valuable resource?

Of all the man made objects on the Moon what would be most likely to add value to a modern manned Lunar mission?  

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    $\begingroup$ I would think the SNAP-27 RTG might be a good candidate. Seems like you could reuse the plutonium for something if you were going to be in that area of the moon anyway. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Oct 16, 2015 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ Apollo 11's LM descent stage, as a museum piece, is probably more valuable than any single piece of hardware. Unfortunately the ascent stage crashed into the moon after its work was done, so the Historical Sticklers Society will have to provide a replica. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2015 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ @called2voyage SNAP-27 are now capable of providing 49.8 W and by the time anyone would find use for them will probably reach their half-life (so one half of 70 W at BOL). Nobody really knows at what state their enclosures are after at the minimum of 43 years of sputtering due to own and solar radiation. I'd be really careful picking those up. Perhaps the Chang'e 3 RTG that's more recent would be safer and more useful. $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Oct 16, 2015 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave There's an idea. Let's borrow Chinese tech and put space law to the test! $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Oct 16, 2015 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @called2voyage Chang'e 3 would warmly welcome that (RTG joke) $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Oct 16, 2015 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


Well, there is no food, water or fuel left on the Moon. That leaves purely the equipment. There are a few candidates for interesting objects, namely:

  1. Power sources. Of those available, the best would probably be the RTGs, both for a source of heat and of power. These are likely intact, due to their internal heating, they probably don't change that much in temperature from night to day. They come with dangers, however, of leaking radiation. There was one each for the later 5 Apollo missions. There aren't any large solar panels.
  2. Fuel tanks- The best of these would be the Apollo missions, they left the descent stage, which should be pretty cool.
  3. Lunar Rovers: As has been mentioned, these were in poor shape, but they are still something of interest.
  4. Communication devices- Nothing on the Moon can talk to Earth now, I wouldn't count on anything being particularly useful.

Thus, purely on the basis of what's already there, either Apollo 12 with its Surveyor/ RTG/ Descent stage, or perhaps one of the 3 later Apollo missions, with the addition of the Rovers.

I should add that none of these compare to liquid water in terms of its usefulness, nor with the solar power potential near the South Pole. So Shackleton Crater remains the best place to land on the Moon for its resources, from Earth or otherwise.

  • $\begingroup$ I can see what Weir and Scott made to the people. Scavenging season has begun. $\endgroup$ Oct 17, 2015 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ There are some solar panels on the Moon in total ~850W @ BOL (5x Surveyor @ 85W, 2x Lunokhod @ 180W, and Yutu rover @ unspecified) but it's unclear in what condition they are, which goes the same for any RTGs (the five SNAP-27's would give now ~240W, and let's assume ~110W both for Chang'e 3 and Yutu RHUs) that shouldn't provide more than about 350W of el. power now. So in total, assuming 1% PV degradation per year and they're not damaged beyond repair due to thermal cycling (big assumption), there should be ~850-950W worth of daylight and ~350W night time el. power systems (and ~5kW thermal). $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Oct 17, 2015 at 13:01
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, but they're spread around an area on the order of the size of Texas. With typical distances being 1000 km and the current off-world driving record being in the tens of kilometers, bringing new ones is more sensible. $\endgroup$ Mar 6, 2018 at 2:10

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