Date : 30/09/2019
1st place - ESA Member States
2.1.a. Where would you locate your shelter on the Moon’s surface?
Close to the Lunar Poles
2.1.b. Explain your choice from question 2.1.
After studying various information about the Moon, team Bendis decided that the most suitable place for locating our moon-camp should be the north pole of the Moon. The choice of location was made taking into account two major resources, indispensable to the good functioning of the base and which are available in large amounts in this position. Also, the temperatures on the Moon are quite extreme, due to the lack of atmosphere. On north pole, the temperatures lay in the interval (-50 deg C, 0 deg C), with more efficient management. The first resource is the ICE. The ice can be collected and melted, subjected to analysis, the researchers hoping that it can be drinkable. In this manner we can ensure a vital element for life support on the Moon. On the other hand, subjected to electrolysis, the water can be separated into oxygen (for life support) and hydrogen (usable as fuel). The second valuable resource is the SUNLIGHT. At north pole, the sunlight is permanent, so installed solar panels can produce energy without interruption. Other aspects were considered. In this region of the Moon, previous missions indicated the presence of lava tubes, appeared in the early stages of Moon’s life. This tunnels can be used by astronauts as a temporary shelter ensuring protection from meteorites and a quasi-constant -20 deg C temperature, until the moon base is built. After that, the tunnels can still be used as warehouses.
2.2.a. Where would you build the shelter: on the surface or underground?
On the surface
2.2.b. Explain your choice to question 2.2.
The base will be positioned on the Moon’s surface to avoid large-scale excavation. Also, placing it on the Moon’s surface, the building construction time will be significantly reduced. The best place could be, for example, a large enough crater. In this manner, the base is somehow protected by the walls of the crater. An entrance into the crater must be built. Another advantage of placing the camp into a crater is that of offering a minimal protection shield against lunar conditions. Also, it offers relatively small temperature variations, being placed in the shadow of the crater walls. Such a spot, situated on the north pole of the Moon, is a perfect candidate, offering permanent access to sunlight, that can be directed through a mirror system through the crater.
3.1. What will be the size of your Moon Camp?
The camp is composed of five modules, united by tunnels that allow the astronauts to walk from one module to another. We have strived to design the base to be as compact as possible and to provide comfort at the same time. The nuclear reactor is 10 meters in diameter and is located outside the actual camp, to shelter the inhabitants from the irradiation as much as possible. The greenhouse is the largest of the modules, having 20 meters in diameter. The bedroom, one of the smallest modules, is only 13 meters in diameter, still being spacious enough for 4 astronauts. The storage module is also a little less spacious than others having 15 meters in diameter, while the command center has 10 meters in diameter. The tunnel that ensures the entrance into the base and that one with the entrance into the reactor are 8 meters long, because they include a depressurization chamber. The other tunnels have 4.75 meters length. The actual base footprint, without the generator (located outside the base), is around 1056 square meters (similar to a square with a 32.5 meters side). A separate area, also, outside the base, is filled with solar panels and it covers a 31 meters side square, meaning around 960 square meters. We have estimated 496 solar panels.
3.2.a. How many people will your Moon Camp accommodate?
3 – 4 astronauts
3.2.b. Explain your choice to question 3.2.
Our estimates suggest that having more than 4 people would require multiple greenhouses, living modules and much more electricity, which are just extensions to a simpler camp that can keep four people. We also have to keep in mind the food, water and oxygen consumption per person and the waste management. As such, we only made the first stage of our colonization efforts on the Moon. New modules can always be built and connected to older ones, giving the possibility of unlimited expansion.
3.3.a Which local Moon resources would you use?
Regolith (Lunar soil)
3.3.b. Explain your choice to question 3.3.
We suggest using all kinds of local resources while living in the moon-camp. Regolith is going to be used in most of the buildings as the main building material. It can be extracted using a Lunar Blade then be stored and used as raw material for 3D printing. Later on, regolith can be used to obtain small amounts of water and will be used to patch up cracks and holes in the structures. Also, it can be used to extract metals and minerals. Water ice is another material that is going to be extracted using the Lunar Blade. The base being placed at the North Pole of the Moon, it is an accessible resource. The thin chunks of ice obtained using this technique can then be melted into water, then be used either as it is, or be subjected to electrolysis to obtain oxygen (necessary for breathing) and hydrogen (very potent fuel). Sunlight will be the main source of power for the base. This source of energy is nearly never disrupted (except if there is an eclipse). Mirroring systems combined with solar panels can be used to capture more light, and increase the amount of produced energy.
3.4. Explain how you plan to build your project on the Moon. You should include information about the materials and building techniques you are planning to use. Highlight the unique features of your design.
Our moon camp will be entirely built out of lunar soil. Digging is difficult to execute because of the low gravitational acceleration on the Moon. According to NASA specialists, a device that can be successfully used on Moon is the lunar excavation blade. With such a device, we can terraform for the camp buildings. Also it is useful for eliminating the lunar dust from the entire camp area, preparing the environment for positioning the solar panels, the landing zones and push it through the limits of the base. The dug regolith is to be used by a 3D large dimensions foldable printer for constructing the modules and the connection canals. We decided to use a modular construction because it is easy to extend it and it minimizes material and resources loss in case of external influences over the camp. The geodesic dome structure we adopted for each module is durable, self-sustaining and its triangular faces can be easily replaced in case of damage. We paid a lot of attention to the life support for our camp. Around the greenhouse, we have designed the water purification system. All around the base we have vapor collectors. Water, oxygen and electricity are transported through a net of cables and tubes around the modules. A part of the water is combined with nutrients and it is used for plant growth, within the greenhouse.
3.5. Describe and explain the design of the entrance to your Moon Camp.
The entrance to the moon camp will consist of one hexagonal canal with two chambers. The oxygen from the first chamber will be vacuumed into the rest of the base to prevent any losses and maximize the amount of water we can produce. Then the astronaut will open the submarine-like door to enter the first chamber. Once they have entered the chamber, they will close the door and the pressure stabilization process will begin. With the stabilization of the pressure, the second door to the second chamber will open, granting the astronaut access to the Moon camp. The same system, with a depressurization chamber, is used for the entrance into the Nuclear Battery.
3.6. Explain how the Moon Camp provides protection for the astronauts.
Every module in our design will have a geodesic dome shape. The triangular elements of the dome are structurally rigid and distribute the stress throughout the structure, making the domes able to withstand very heavy loads and impacts. The modules’ geodesic domes will have an average thickness of one meter, so that small sized asteroids cannot strike through easily. Every module except for the greenhouse will also be covered with lunar soil for extra protection, against temperature variations, solar radiations and mechanical impacts. The thickness and soil cover should make a strong structure that can hardly collapse or be damaged overall. The hexagonal-shaped connection canals will have doors on both ends, so that if one is damaged, both doors are closed and the oxygen loss is reduced. As mentioned in a previous section, the entire area of the moon camp must be cleaned out of the lunar dust, because the smallest movements put the dust in motion. This is a real danger, if the fine grains of lunar dust will deposit on the solar panels (reducing the receiver surface of the panels) or will enter into the base (causing, among others, respiratory issues to the astronauts).
3.7. Describe the location and arrangements of the sleeping and working areas.
The living module is divided in two halves. The first one has 4 rooms that contain storage spaces, desks and spaces for sleeping bags. Each has around 10 square meters, based on studies that indicated this as enough space for one person. In the second half we have placed the bathroom, more storage spaces, a water dispenser, an electric oven, a physical exercise machine, a first-aid kit, a backup life support system and a dining area with a table and chairs that can also be used for storage. The astronauts are going to undergo most of their activities in the greenhouse, at the workbench in the command center for repairing damaged parts, while using the physical exercise machine and while conducting research or various maintenance tasks.
4.1. Describe what will be the power source for the shelter.
The solar panels will be the main energy source (with 22% efficiency, generating around 270 kW/h electricity). But there are moments when the sunlight does not meet the receptors (eclipses) and also, we might need some extra energy. That is where the backup energy source, the nuclear battery, comes in action. The battery is a viable source of energy, but it produces radiation, so it is better to only use it when needed. Part of the melted ice can be subjected to electrolysis and we can get another energy source, the hydrogen, used as fuel for machines. We estimate the power usage is going to be around 220 kW/h, and , due to the location in constant sunlight area, we require a smaller amount of batteries (approximately 30 cubic meters of lithium-ion batteries, which should last for at least 3 days), used only in an emergency situation.
4.2. Describe where the water will come from.
Water is an indispensable element, not only on the Moon, but also on Earth, being a vital element for biological life. Our base is not situated by chance on one of the Moon’s pole, previous explorations demonstrating the existence of large amounts of frozen water into the soil. The ice shall be excavated, melted, settled, filtered and chemically treated in a special device located outside the camp, so that it can be used by the astronauts not only for drinking purposes, but also for the daily hygiene (washing, showering, toilet). Small amounts of water can be obtained from humans’ sweat and urine. Used water can be recycled, filtered and reused, for both humans’ and plants’ use.
4.3. Describe what will be the food source.
One of the food sources is going to be the food brought from the Earth, for the early stages of the moon-camp settlement. It will consist in can food and dehydrated food. Another food source is going to be the greenhouse built on the moon camp, as soon as it will start producing goods. The greenhouse is design to grow all sorts of plants, in their appropriate conditions. A module of the camp is dedicated to the greenhouse. It is built on three level, interconnected with water tubes. The tubes are support for growing plants that only require water with nutrients(lettuce, aromatic herbs). The platforms of the levels will grow plants that also need soil (tomatoes, potatoes, beetroot). The intermediate level will also include a tank for growing spirulina (as a valuable nutrient source).
5.1. What would you like to study on the Moon?
As expected, we are very curious about the secrets of the Moon. So we have planned a series of experiment suggestions to be executed by the astronauts team that will stay on the moon camp. In the initial period, until the base is built, experiments can be performed on water, to identify its properties and to check if it is drinkable. Analysis can be performed on the regolith collected from different areas, to check its properties as construction material. Later on, explorations can be made to identify areas for extracting metals or other valuable minerals for supporting constructions on the Moon. After the base is built, special attention will be paid to the growth of plants, to study their behavior and development under outer space conditions, from a seed until maturity and harvesting stage. We are interested in how plants grow in the artificial light, fed with nutrients and recycled water without or with a small amount of soil. The design of the greenhouse uses platforms to grow plants in a small amount of soil produced by composting human waste. Also, a special tank is placed there for growing spirulina. Special suspended pots, connected to the water tubes, are used for growing plants directly in nutrient water. Other aspects to consider are related to the waste management and its conversion into nutrients or materials to be reused. Another important aspect is that regarding the energy produced to sustain the life into the camp. Solar panel systems must be carefully monitored. The amounts of produced energy have to be studied in order to properly store this energy for later use. Alternative energy sources must be identified and studied. Observation must be oriented through the meteorites fall and on the environmental conditions on the moon, including radiation. This will help improve the design of the camp and will identify the most appropriate materials to use, for maximum protection of the integrity of astronauts, plants and equipment. Of course, studies must be performed on the humans inhabiting the moon camp. The astronauts behavior must be analyzed in case of longer periods spent on the Moon. Both physical and mental aspects have to be taken care of. A net of rovers can be set, in order to cover large areas in the vicinity of the camp, for studying the environment.
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