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The Challenges of Colonizing the Moon – Can we do it?

The Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.
Written by Dave Peterson

The Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.

The Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.Challenges of Colonizing the Moon – In a previous article, we talked about utility sources on Earth that are running out. We tried to present alternatives to get more of the utility resources. One of those options was moon mining.

Yet, moon mining isn’t easy. Appropriate mining is a high-tech activity that requires existent manpower to operate. With no manpower on the moon, mining is impossible.

This pushes humanity towards the need to colonize the moon. At the very least, if colonization is not for settling, then it should be for mining.

Regardless of the scale of colonization, humanity’s basic needs must be met on the moon. This is besides developing capacities that allow for effective mining. Those needs and capacities include:

  1. Water Sources.
  2. Food.
  3. Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide (human and plant breathing).
  4. Shelter.
  5. Space Laws.

So to start of…

(1) Water Sources. Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.

The Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.Water is the base of all life. With no water, survival on the moon is impossible.

It is also the basic condition for food farming and generating electricity. Power stations spin their turbines using evaporated water after all (steam). All efforts to mine the moon should be forgotten if water cannot be found.

Fortunately though, the moon is abundant in water. It is abundant in both underground and surface water (1). This is important, because underground water will be harder to uncover than surface water.

According to estimates by NASA, the surface of the moon could have at least 600 million tons of water (2). While not enough for a large moon population, this is enough for mining inhabitants.

The moon also lacks an atmosphere, where there is no air. This means that evaporation of moon water is impossible. This is in advantage, since there is no water loss into space.

(2) Food. Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.

The Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.So there’s water on the moon, but what about the food? The moon naturally lacks an atmosphere, so there’s no air. There is no air to aid in plant growth, this being carbon dioxide (more on that later). The moon also lacks the nutrient soil required.

Then there’s the issue of sunlight. The moon spends around 13 days in darkness or light (on each side). This can hamper the growth of food. Also, with a lack of an ozone layer, harmful UV lights will destroy plants before they reach maturity.

Well, at least we have water on the moon…

The reason why moon farming is even considered, is due to the expenses of sending food to space. We mentioned in a past article that sending items to space is already quite expensive. Expense is actually the primary problem of farming utility metals.

The same applies to food. No space station will spend millions of dollars to send some Doritos to space! Also, colonizing the moon for long-term settlements means that sending food is impractical.

Fortunately, scientists are currently looking into techniques that aid in space farming (3). Yet, we still need specific workarounds to help in extraterrestrial farming. After all, farming is also going to provide us humans with our primary source of oxygen…

(3) Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide. Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.

The Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.Assume for a second that all moon farming issues have been resolved. We have the soil to plant for the long-term. The water supply is abundant on the moon to grow the plants. We then have enough food to eat and create an industrial colony.

What about gas loss to space?

Atmospheric loss is common on the moon. It occurs a lot during daytime (4). This atmospheric loss threatens to end the moon’s supply of gas made by plants. In such situations, the gases have to be contained for use and recycling.

This leads us to the next part…

(4) Shelter. Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.

The same applies to farmed material too. Plants must be contained in shelters to prevent them from losing the oxygen they give off. A lot of oxygen is needed to begin with for normal human breathing.

According to the following source (5), humans consume 50 liters of oxygen per hour. Yet, the average leaf produce 5 milliliters of oxygen per hour. This means that the average human needs 10,000 leaves for a proper supply of oxygen. This is excluding the plant’s breathing cycle.

The average oak tree can carry 150,000 to 200,000 leaves. Contained, such a tree can produce enough oxygen to support the daily needs of 15 people.

Unfortunately though, oak trees are quite large. They’re like world trees in that regard…

Trees alone do not need a lot of effort to grow on the moon (though they do grow inefficiently). NASA for example has examples of trees that have survived and grown there (6). Growing trees here isn’t the issue. It is the retention the oxygen produced.

Retention of oxygen can be done by building lunar shelters underground. This has the advantage of reducing air leak instances. It also ensures that radiation hitting the moon isn’t going to affect the trees. Meteor impact destruction will also diminish with underground structures.

This’ll require detailed architecture and territory management. This can only be done through…

(5) Space Laws. Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.

The Challenges of Colonizing the Moon.Not a lot of people seem to understand that the moon’s surface can create a conflict potential. After all, we’re still fighting here on earth. We’re still arguing over water territories, mining rights, and we even still have militaries!

Humanity heading to space won’t be doing so as a united entity. We’ll be heading there as competitors. Major countries with space programs will fight over spots for water. There will be conflicts over spots to plant, and locations for mining minerals.

Additionally, the moon is an aerial location far above the Earth’s surface. This means that having weapon technology on the moon is a serious military advantage. Allowing the moon to simply be taken over by a country on a whim won’t go well on the world stage.

Long-story short, there’s going to be a military presence on the moon…

We’ll be discussing military conflict over the moon in following articles. But next, we’ll want to look deeper into the moon’s mineral base. After all, if we’re heading to the moon, then it’s best to know what we can realistically get out of it!

Sources Cited.

 

  1. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/2009-09-23-moon-water_N.htm
  2. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/Mini-RF/multimedia/feature_ice_like_deposits.html
  3. http://science.howstuffworks.com/space-farming.htm
  4. http://www.space.com/18067-moon-atmosphere.html
  5. http://io9.gizmodo.com/5955071/how-many-plants-would-you-need-to-generate-oxygen-for-yourself-in-an-airlock
  6. https://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/news/moon_trees.html

As we evaluate our future as a species is the moon the next logical step to expand the human influence?

About the author

Dave Peterson

Dave Peterson
Passion for adventure and sharing his life long journey with as many others as possible.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." HENRY S. HASKINS

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