Skip to comments.Working on the Moon
Posted on 01/26/2004 4:05:16 AM PST by Cincinatus' Wife
The US plans to return to the Moon and establish the first base there as a staging post to a manned trip to Mars. But what would living and working on the Moon do to astronauts' bodies and minds? Neil Armstrong speaking live from the lunar surface to a billion-strong audience on 21 July 1969: "It has a stark beauty all its own. It's much like the high desert of the United States."
The big difference being that the high desert is a mere 4x4-drive away from California suburbs while visiting the Moon means three days of hurtling through hard vacuum at 11km per second.
Nasa should have no problem finding volunteers to crew the long-duration moonbase announced by President George W Bush. But what will they be letting themselves in for?
Twelve astronauts walked on the Moon between 1969 and 1972. The experience changed all their lives - some more dramatically than others. Buzz Aldrin battled with alcoholism while Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell became a paranormal investigator. Following Apollo 15, the late James Irwin became a born-again Christian, heading to Mount Ararat in search of Noah's Ark.
Getting to the Moon is much easier than the six-month trip to Mars, but still places extreme demands on machines and people. Lack of political enthusiasm is the main reason further Moon landings were cancelled after December 1972. Another is that planners realised each new mission was a risk - better to finish with a perfect record than keep supplying fresh hostages to fortune. The trip means leaving the protection of Earth's magnetic field. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station orbit low enough to stay shielded, but going further means exposure to cosmic radiation and occasional intense solar flares. Apollo astronauts experienced high numbers of colourful flashes sometimes called "ghosts", caused by charged particles passing through their optic nerves.
Astronauts on the lunar surface are just as vulnerable. For each Apollo mission a network of observatories watched the Sun for show-stopping indications of unusual activity, but if a solar flare had occurred post-launch then astronauts would have had no real defence.
During August 1972 a solar flare erupted with such strength that any exposed astronaut would have been killed within hours. For any future moonbase a buried radiation shelter is a must-have.
Not that constructing it would be fun. It is difficult to dig the compact lunar soil deeper than about 15 cm, and once disturbed, moondust gets everywhere.
"One of the most restricting facets of lunar exploration is the dust and its adherence to everything, no matter what kind of material," remembered Eugene Cernan after Apollo 17. "Simple things like the bag locks and the lock which held the pallet on the Rover began not only to malfunction but not to function at all."
Spacesuits aged fast: Cernan's crewmate Harrison Schmidt scratched his visor to the point of uselessness while trying to clean dust from it - he also turned out to be allergic to the dust. All evidence suggests that sustained dwelling in one-sixth-normal gravity is actually healthier than the zero-g currently endured by Space Station astronauts, which leads to bone wastage and muscle atrophy.
The lunar environment is demanding in other ways. Its rocky surface makes for nail-biting landings while orbiting spacecraft get dragged off course by the gravitational influence of "mascons" - denser zones of lunar crust.
One proposal to make spacecraft operations easier is establishing a network of lunar GPS satellites, enabling the effective automation of navigation and landings.
That would come in useful as returning astronauts will explore some very different settings from the equatorial plains of last time, including descents into permanently-shadowed craters at the lunar poles - if operating in such extreme cold is feasible.
You would see home every time you looked up - and be reminded how just far away it was
If not, robots could take their place: a roadmap prepared by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group suggests the astronauts will have a "robotic village" of advanced rovers preparing for their touchdown. The sense of isolation induced by a prolonged stay on the moonbase would be psychologically tough, but broadly comparable to a tour of duty at an Antarctic base or nuclear submarine. The crucial difference is you would see home every time you looked up - and be reminded how just far away it was.
"I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth," Armstrong recounted after landing. "I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very very small." On the plus side, operating a moonbase might actually be cheaper than maintaining the International Space Station. Everything up in orbit needs to be positioned there by expensive rockets, but the Moon already has plenty of useful raw materials.
Researchers at Houston's Johnston Space Centre have turned simulated lunar material into concrete and glass. And running short of air should never be a problem: moondust is composed of 40 per cent oxygen.
Most of all, if we ever master living on the Moon, then we would be capable of exporting ourselves to similar planetary bodies across the solar system, from Mercury to Pluto.
Islam does a lot of moon-worship.
Would they try to sabatoge colonization thereof, or even worse, try to take it over politically?
I didn't know that. Seems we would have burned the whole moon up with the first landing!
I have to suppose the oxygen is not "free" but maybe an oxide?
The months of the Islamic calendar begins at the New Moon .. (as do the Hebrew and Chinese calendars). It is true that unlike the Hebrew and Chinese calendars, the Islamic calendar is purely lunar.. but I'm not sure where the leap to "moon-worhip" comes in.
Lunar phases play a heavy role in Christianity as well. The official definition of Easter (Gregorian) was and still is: The First Sunday After The First Full Moon After The Spring Equinox. I don't think you could say Christians worship the moon, even though they rely on it for calculating Easter.
Right. So it's already been "burned," if you will. To use it, we'll have to break the chemical bonds of the oxygen with the various metals it's compounded with. There are many proven processes to do that; no magic, just basic industrial chemistry.
Silicon PV cell production on the Moon as the basis for a new architecture for space exploration*** A method is described by which silicon photovoltaic (PV) devices can be directly deposited onto the lunar regolith using primarily lunar materials. In sequence, a robotic "crawler" moving at slow speed sequentially melts the top layer of regolith and deposits a conducting layer, a doped silicon, a top conducting grid, and an antireflective coating by vacuum evaporation techniques. Concentrated solar energy is utilized as the energy source. Development of this capability would significantly lower the cost of electrical energy on the Moon and would enable a range of other activities, including lower cost propellant production, human outposts with complete food-growth capabilities, and advanced materials production. Low cost energy could affect the economics of propellants in space by allowing the extraction of solar wind hydrogen from the lunar regolith. This would allow the economical export of propellants and other materials to space, first to an Earth-Moon Lagrangian Point and potentially to low Earth orbit. ***©2001 American Institute of Physics.
haha.....sounds like the history of Earth over the last 2000 yrs......I guess that makes the current Earth and its inhabitants the waxing gibbous Earth.....well thats the impression I get when I have a look at what entertains us........
Or for that matter, according to pagan Barbara Walker, the hexagram (aka the Star of David) is an ancient pagan symbol pre-dating Judaism. It's a fertility symbol, the upward triangle representing the penis, penetrating the vulva of the downward triangle. So do Jews worship sex?
You'll find that many symbols have ancient pagan meanings.
You have no idea how much we do. ;^)
Lunar resources include oxygen from the lunar soil, water from the poles and a supply of volatile gases. One of the most significant steps towards self-sufficiency and independence from the Earth will be the use of lunar materials for construction.
At least seven major potential lunar construction materials have been identified. These include:
· sulfur concrete
· cast basalt
· sintered basalt
· cast glass
All of these materials may be used to construct a future lunar base. The basalt materials can be formed out of lunar regolith (soil) by a simple process of heating and cooling, and are the most likely to be used to build the first bases. ***