Moon is the closest natural satellite of the Earth which has several interesting features for Humans to study and research. Research is still going on since 1960’s Apollo Mission. Moon has mesmerizing features and history on the basis of which, humans are developing and innovating safe settlements on Moon which have several benefits and some risks as well which we’ll come across soon here.
It’s PROXIMITY has given us the opportunity to research beyond our imagination with less effort comparatively. Settlements on Moon are our first steps for future “Deep Space Missions”. All space organizations across the Earth has contributed it’s efforts towards lunar exploration. Humans are preparing for going to moon after 50 years (ARTEMIS MISSION), which will land first woman and next man on The Moon and then to Mars by 2024.
As usual, life cannot exist without “Water”, the key to life. Anywhere we go, first we crave for water. If you split the hydrogen and oxygen from water , you will get rocket propelants. Next comes Oxygen and other crucial elements like Carbon, Nitrogen, Sulfur, Hydrogen, Phosphorus, Manganese, Silicon, Calcium etc. Chandrayaan 1 in 2008 detected water at Lunar Poles and NASA missions suggest there are over 600 billion kilograms of water on Moon, some in solid state. The Moon Mineralogy Mapper(M³) provided us the mineral map of the entire lunar surface. Most of the water is concentrated at the Poles.
We have several benefits as mentioned earlier—We need less energy, propellant and fuel to launch rockets from lunar surface as compared with Earth, because there’s no barrier of Atmosphere, which also reduces the required Cost. Observatories can be built on the moon without launching it to space. Lunar settlements will prepare Astronauts for Future long term Mars Missions(ARTEMIS). As technology develops, scientists will be able to build Artificial Humans vascular tissue, which can also be included on lunar surface for testing what extreme conditions human can withstand without health hazards. We need electricity, Food, Protective suits, Plant Chambers, essential elements, hygeinic washrooms, research lab to name a few.
Some sites for settlement—
POLAR REGIONS( MALAPERT MOUNTAIN)
Long term continuous sunlight on top and north side where solar arrays can be placed for generating electricity.
Large relatively smooth area for landing and surface operations
Probable thick, workable regolith
Close to shaded areas, high hydrogen components
Dynamic accessibility; zero longitude; anytime return
Uninterrupted microwaves visibility from earth
The polar regions have most of the lunar water
This image shows South pole (left) and North pole (right) of the moon. The dark blue areas are hydrogen rich and show evidence of water.
Shakelton Crater—Impact crater at lunar South pole. The outer rim gets continuous sunlight but the interior is dark. Presence of water ice has been detected via higher amounts of hydrogen. This sunlight can be used to grow crops and generate electricity. Has a depth of 4.2 km which is sufficient for lunar base underground as it will also sheild from harmful radiations.
Lunar lava tube—Formed during eruption of basaltic lava, when cooled down, forms underground channels as wide as 500m. They can sheild astronauts from cosmic rays, meteorites, solar rays and provide habitable temperature. Lunar base can be situated here for habitation.
There are Problems as well that need solutions---
Moon has high depletion of volatile elements such as Carbon, Nitrogen and Hydrogen. If no sufficient source is found for recovery of these elements, it’s necessary to be imported from outside to support life and this is costly and other source dependent.
No atmosphere means direct contact with harmful radiations from Interplanetary space and large temperatures from the sun’s rays which can cause health hazards.
Moon dust is another problematic thing caused by ionized (may me toxic) micrometeorites of solar wind. As there is no weathering on Moon, it’s sticks on the surface and it’s very harmful while breathing.
Growing crops on moon is difficult-- no atmosphere, no Oxygen, no nitrogen in soil with little potassium, variety of temperatures, no insects for pollination, harmful cosmic rays. But it can be grown in protected chambers. 354 hours of lunar night can damage the crops. It’s possible to grow if we provide artificial light, soil nutrition and other essentials.
After all, at the end, we Humans are curious to know and explore more . In future, we shall develop lunar elevator that would make transportation to moon easy, Artificial Humans which we can use for several tests like how much extreme conditions can it withstand and more advanced Artificial intelligence.
- Ananya Sadhukhan, Grade 8