A lot is taken for granted here on the third rock from the Sun – things such as a breathable atmosphere, drinking water, just tossing ‘stuff’ in the trash. Our space warriors, the adventurous few who tackle missions to the Moon and beyond are facing learning a new set of rules.
One of the first important factors in space is to comingle with the ‘plant-folk’. Animals (us) breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. Conversely the plants breathe in Carbon Dioxide and out Oxygen. Of course this requires sunlight, artificial or otherwise but it is likely that this will be a part of how we recycle air on the Moon or Mars…
Of course not only will the plants require sunlight which we can provide, but water. I’m sure that we all would like water. This question has many answers.
1) The Air: When we exhale that air is humid and also we perspire. Blow that air across a cold pipe and wham – water condenses and there you go! Obviously we will have machines do this, but you get the idea! And if you don’t want to drik it – that water can be for the plants.
2) The poles; apparently there are 330 million tons of frozen water up there.
3) Thirdly – there are veins of H2 on the Moon (and possibly everywhere in one form or another.) We take the H2 & add that to the regolith, heat it to 1000 degrees and we have H2O (plus the other materials.)
What about our trash? On Earth we have landfills, sewerage, toilet water, and more that we just toss out. On the Moon it’s not so simple. A lot of what we throw out is packed with valuable minerals or nutrients. Bio-reactors will use bacteria to break this ‘junk’ up – the remaining nutrient soup we can feed the plants!
AS I mentioned previously we need light during the loooong lunar night for the plants as well as ourselves. ALSO for the computers, all the mining machines…There are two possible solutions. (Actually more, but I’m good with two!)
1) Nuclear Power -
2) Solar Power – during the lunar day solar panels will help us to provide energy. Certainly when it is night in one location doesn’t guarantee it is night everywhere. Actually, it’s almost always day somewhere on the Moon (one exception, during a lunar eclipse) so setting up the solar panels accordingly would provide a constant stream of energy. ANOTHER OPTION is to put out a space solar collector and beam the power down to the Moon.
Of course the next thing might be the temperature. The LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) found that temperatures ranged from 238Celsius (396F) to 247Celsius (413F) at the Moons Northern most pole. That’s pretty cold, by anyone’s standards. So what is the solution? Habitats that are underground make sense and workstations can either be above ground or a combination of the two. Why? The temperature underground – anywhere underground, doesn’t vary all that much. And when you warm a habitat underground, it isn’t apt to lose the heat rapidly. What is the temperature underground on the moon? 2 degrees Celsius. About 35 degrees. That’s almost easy to handle without heating it up! (Okay, no, but it doesn’t require a lot of change!)
There are so many really cool concerns when moving anywhere new., but moving to the Moon brings some special concerns. Not because it will be difficult but because it will be different than the way we are used to. We have a special name for those who will go - Explorers. AND I envy them!