Date : 30/09/2019
2nd place - ESA Member States
2.1.a. You are about to land on the Moon. You have to make some decisions about the location of your settlement. 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.
We think that the best site location should take into account 4 main aspects: – amount of energy and how it’s distributed along time; – visibility with the Earth for radio communications; – surface temperature variations; – natural resources for human survival. Analysing all these aspects, our choice is close to the poles. In terms of energy, polar places like the Shakelton crater (south pole) or the Philolaus crater (north pole) will have Sunlight during approximately 80% of the time (in the Equator we would have 14 light days followed by 14 dark days, with the risk of running out of energy). Both these two craters have 100% of visibility therefore, communication could be established with Earth during 100% of the time. One of the objectives of establishing a Moon camp is the observation of the Universe and the Cosmos (see section 5.1). These observatories will be located on the far side of the Moon (no direct communication with Earth), but we will set up communications links between the observatories and the BaseCamp, and from base camp to Earth. In terms of temperature regulation, our proposal is to build the Moon Camp underground (see section 2.2). Satellites have discovered lava tubes, which provide protection from cosmic ray radiation and meteorites, and would avoid a lot of digging. Lava tubes found mainly around the poles have a very stable temperature (from -40 to -20). Moreover, water (in solid state, ice) has been found also there. Ice water is quite deep, but so are lava tubes.
2.2.a. Where would you build the shelter: on the surface or underground?
2.2.b. Explain your choice to question 2.2.
We believe, building the shelter underground is very advantageous for 2 main reasons: • protection from cosmic radiations and meteorites; • temperature stability. Digging on the moon would not be an easy task, as we would need to bring the digging engines from Earth. However, lava tubes have been detected on the moon by artificial satellites. Lava tubes can be very long (hundreds of kilometers) and very wide (from hundred meters to a kilometer). Temperature inside them is very stable, as opposed to the outside temperatures that range between -176 and +250 degrees (depending on the location: poles or equator). They are around -40 degrees, which is a temperature that human beings can handle, with a lot of warming clothes, and with well-prepared buildings with normal heaters. Our proposal is to build the shelter in one of these lava tubes. In this way we would be very well protected from cosmic radiations and meteorites, the temperature would be much more stable and with “not too bad” ranges and we could avoid a huge job of digging. One of the objectives to visit the moon is the observation of the Universe and the Cosmos. The Observatory would be located at the far side of the Moon, so that there is not interference from the Earth. The drawback is that it won’t have direct communication with the Earth. Our observatory then will be connected to the BaseCamp through radio links and repeaters. And it’s the BaseCamp that will have direct communication with the Earth.
3.1. What will be the size of your Moon Camp?
A very large MoonCamp is a spend of energy for oxygen production, temperature stabilization, material usage, etc. Besides, the Moon Camp will hold people longer time than the ISS. So we plan a MoonCamp size that is comfortable for the astronauts. The sizes of the different parts of the planned MoonCamp are provided in the Tinkercad scaled 3D model. The overall camp can accommodate the different parts. They are: – at the surface: • two entrances (section 3.5); • the solar panels; • a large greenhouse; – underground: • control and command room, including energy storage and consumption (batteries); • the tubes/lifts connecting with the outside; • the living areas, including: o working areas (laboratories, offices, vegetation testing), o “recreational” areas (saloon, kitchen, gym, and recreational) o nursery o sleeping areas. The MoonCamp built is a modular solution that can easily be enlarged at any time with the arrival of a new set of astronauts.
3.2.a. How many people will your Moon Camp accommodate?
3.2.b. Explain your choice to question 3.2.
Our proposal to have not a large team, because is costly, but not a too short team either because there are several skills that need to be covered. We would start with a set of 5-6 astronauts. They should include one or two doctors, three scientific-technical experienced astronauts and one in the field of agronomy, in order to cover all the needs in the camp. In this way they can be safe in front of any adversity. Also, we need to think that travelling to the Moon takes a few days so the team should be self-sufficient. We think that the presence of a doctor in the Moon Camp is important even if so long as they have direct contact with Earth, there are ways to provide the medical test results to Earth for them to be diagnosed and Earth can prescribe the medication or procedure. It is also important to have skilled people in technical and scientific aspects for the daily work in planning, designing, building (helped by robots obviously), repairing the camp, carrying out the scientific experiments, etc. At the same time, water and food is an important issue that should be taken care of during the Moon stay. That is why we think it’s important to include an agronomy engineer (or biologist or an agronomy expert). Note that we are building a modular Moon Camp, in such a way that in the future it can easily be scaled up for more people to live on the Moon.
3.3.a. Which local Moon resources would you use?
•Regolith (Lunar soil)
3.3.b. Explain your choice to question 3.3.
Sunlight would be captured through solar panels and stored in battery packs as main source of energy. Electricity would be used for the whole equipment, lights or process requiring energy. Using the regolith is essential as it contains over 40% of oxygen gas. Also contains more than 20% silicon and 10% iron, materials for the construction with 3D printers. Calcium, aluminium and magnesium are also found in regolith and could be used too. Gaseous oxygen could be extracted from the Regolith by physical/chemical means and liquefied with stills to easily keep it in tanks. As oxygen condensation temperature is -182,95oC under normal pressure, the liquid oxygen itself at higher pressure can be used to cool down more oxygen. Stored oxygen at room temperature would change into gas. For the first iteration, liquid oxygen would be brought from Earth or would be obtained by cooling oxygen with electricity from solar panels. Thanks to ISS, we know that a high amount of water can be reused using a recycling system. Not being 100% efficient, part of the moon water found underground would also be used. One of the reasons for having chosen the poles of the moon is because of the water found in solid state. Ours must be a sustainable project, not steadily extracting water and oxygen to maintain moon’s balance. We’ll have alternative water and oxygen supplies: a recycling system for water; and spirulina algae capable to generate enough oxygen for one human in a 8 square meters room.
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.
First, robots will be sent to the Moon to find out the optimal localization where to start building the base. Once completed a basic shelter structure, a spacecraft with crew will be sent with an habitable module to continue the construction. Underground inhabitable areas will be built in the first place using pre-built modules sent from Earth. Once finished, the first habitable module will be used as an emergency shelter. Later on, the rest of the project would be built. Upon completing the building project, robots would be sent to the dark side of the moon in order to choose the suitable location for the observatory. Repeaters would be installed to send audio and video signal recorded by the telescopes to the base. The base will be composed of two main areas, the inside and the outside: Outside there would be the entry, solar panels and communication antennas, as well as the observatory. Although the observatory is located further from the base, at the dark side of the moon, repeaters to the MoonCamp connect it. Different modules would compose the inside. Two different entries would be built as a security measure. As well, there would be a greenhouse with several plants to provide oxygen and feed the astronauts with a diverse and balanced diet. Pipes will connect the greenhouse to a tank where the oxygen would be stored, and used in the modules as needed. Also would the batteries, the water tank, connected with the water recycling system, and a jumbo 3D printer to build required parts.
3.5. Describe and explain the design of the entrance to your Moon Camp.
An important part of the design is the entrance. The entrance must isolate the outside with the inside Moon Camp, in terms of temperature, air composition (oxygen) and air pressure. This is so important that we propose redundancy for security reasons. At the same time it must be well protected against meteorites. We propose a vault at the outside extreme of the entrance chain. The vault will be at outside conditions. It will protect a lift that will be located in the interior of the vault. The lift will act as the first decompression stage, mainly redundant and for security reasons. It shall not be used in normal conditions. The astronaut will go inside the lift fully equipped as it would be outside. The lift will descend down to the inside of the camp, through a long tube that can be of a few hundred meters depending of the lava tube deepness. Once down in the lava tube, there will be a full-decompression chamber, where the astronaut will be fully dressed or undressed with the astronaut dress. This is the chamber that shall be adapted to fully inside or outside conditions (depending on whether the astronaut is getting in or out). Also for security reasons, with the extreme conditions of the Moon and the deepness of the lava tubes, there should be 2 fully-prepared entrances. In case one of the entrances is damaged, the astronauts would be able to use the second one.
3.6. Explain how the Moon Camp provides protection for the astronauts.
Building the modules underground provides protection for the astronauts to the radiation. Radiation may cause sterility or cancer, so the underground provides a high protection. Also protects against the extreme temperature and pressure conditions. Surface temperature is extremely variable (ranging from -150C or -160C to approximate 250C, although a little more constant in the poles than in the equator), but 100 meters underground is much more stable. It has been found that inside the lava tubes the temperature is between -10oC and -40oC. A heating system would raise it to a comfortable temperature without a large energy consumption. Another important issue is the pressure. The almost vacuum conditions of pressure in the Moon would not allowed more than 8 seconds for a human to live. Our veins would explode in about 8 seconds. So pressure needs to be regulated to the equivalent pressure in the Earth atmosphere. Being inside the Moon Camp we will also be protected from possible meteorites impacts, which are rather frequent.
3.7. Describe the location and arrangements of the sleeping and working areas.
We have designed a modular structure for 6 people, replicable as many times as needed. The working area would be in the ground floor (or first floor), the biggest one, comprised of:
• Control and Commanding area: where there will be the centre of communication with Earth, including the commanding of the on the surface antennas that have direct link to the Earth ground control; control the different parts and system of the Moon Camp areas (water recycling, batteries, oxygen tanks, etc.
• Laboratory: where we will carry out the different scientific experiments, including the food growth laboratory, and where we will process the data acquired;
• Warehouse for storage, as to keep a large amount of supplies that could assure a long stay in the Moon Camp. The second floor will include a gymnasium, a living room, a kitchen and a nursery (which might include a robotic operating room in the future). Cabinets would be used to store lighter items, to avoid them float because of the low gravity. Velcro straps, as in ISS, also would be used. The sleeping area would be in the third floor with sleeping rooms (one for each astronaut as we plan for long Moon stays) and two bathrooms.
4.1. Describe what will be the power source for the shelter.
The primarily source of energy would be the solar energy. One of the main reasons to be located at the Moon poles is precisely the solar energy (see section 2.1). The lunar poles have between 80 and 100% of sunlight, depending on the latitude and the elevation of the exact point on the Moon. This is a major advantage of being located at the poles. We will cover the outside of the Moon Camp with solar panels. The number of the solar panels will depend on the number of people at the camp. As mentioned in section 3.2, we would start with a set of 5 or 6 astronauts. The whole camp structure would be modular, and so will be the solar panels, as the number of solar panels can be scaled as a function of the number of people in the camp. The panels will be controlled from the control room inside the camp, so that they could point the sun all the time (like the sun-flowers) and collect as much energy as possible. The batteries will be located underground inside the lava tubes. Batteries tend to be very large, but there is no space problems as the lava tubes are very wide and extremely long. The batteries will also be inside a room for temperature reasons.
4.2. Describe where the water will come from.
Thanks to ISS, we know that a high amount of water (~97%) can be reused using a recycling system. However, it is not 100% efficient so part of the Moon water, found underground, would be also needed. One of the reasons for having chosen the Moon poles is because of the water found in solid state, ice (explained in section 2.1). We will locate a water tank close to the batteries and next to the water recycling system tank. However, as mentioned in different sections, we want to build a sustainable project, therefore we intent use the Moon water as minimum as possible. We cannot steadily extract water, without impacting moon’s balance. Consequently it is fundamental a water recycling system first, and an alternative water supply. Probably we would need to bring water from Earth every time we have a spacecraft from Earth bringing also some foot and provisions (material, etc.).
4.3. Describe what will be the food source.
With the self-sustainable project in mind, we think that the main food source should be from the food growth chamber build in the Moon Camp. The main type of food grown in the food growth chamber will be vegetables (although one could think about insects too). The meat strictly needed (in case of lack of proteins from the possible plants that would be able to grow) would need to be brought from Earth. From Earth we will need to bring the seeds or even perhaps the seedlings to ensure they grow and grow faster. The food growth chamber will be located close to the surface. The reason is to try to use the sunlight directly as much as possible. It will have an inverse and transparent vault to collect the sun-light. However, it will also have a cover right at the Moon surface, in case of presence of meteorites.
5.1. What would you like to study on the Moon?
We would like to use the Moon for the following purposes:
– The observation of the universe and the cosmos, from the far side of the Moon. The far side of the Moon is a perfect place for cosmos observations thanks to the non light contamination and no atmosphere, compared to observations from Earth.
– Scientific experiments: There are a number of experiments that can be carried out in the Moon (just like in the ISS), due to the different conditions of the Moon compared to Earth, like much lower gravity. We could experiments in human bodies (another reason why it is interesting to have a doctor in the team), or in plants.
– Platform for extra-planetary voyages: The Moon is a perfect trampoline for the exploration of other solar system planets, as for example Mart. Since the gravity is only a sixth of the Earth gravity, larger spacecrafts could easily be launched from the Moon, with less energy consumption. There are already some investigations going on to be able to launch using electrical propulsion, and some tests have already been carried out.
– Tourism: in the future the Moon could be used as a touristic place. The ISS is already being prepared to eventually take tourists on-board. In the same way, the Moon could also be a touristic place that could be visited for pleasure. Tourists though, would need to previously be submitted to a thorough training, and they would need to be very respectful with the work being carried out in the Moon Camp during their visit. We need to point out that this would be a very expensive holidays!
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