Colonizing the Moon

Understanding from Mass Vortex Theory [MVT] helps to inform the means to turn the Moon into a small habitable planet. Colonizing the Moon could be the first step in setting up pioneering outposts at other locations in our solar system.

Water

When a moon forms via the protomoon method, a moon forms similarly to a planet. Characteristic features of moons formed via the protomoon method (explained in the MVT book) are: a smooth spherical shape, an iron core, and synchronous rotation (where the moon consistently shows one face towards its planet). Our Moon, similar to our planet, includes a discontinuity layer of water between the crust and mantle [massvortex.science/water/]. Fresh water is on the moon, we just need to be able to drill through the crust to reach it. The near side of the Moon has some thin-crust regions that are under 10 km thick.

Atmosphere

From Mass Vortex Theory, we learn that a planet’s atmosphere develops due to the presence of an ice layer to restrain the gases that are around the planet after compaction. For the Moon, we would need to achieve a great feat of engineering to create a similar man-made greenhouse shell around the moon. We’ll look at some possible ways to achieve this later in this article. Lunar soil is composed of 42% oxygen. Scientists have already been exploring economical means to unlock this oxygen. After the water layer below the crust is flowing to the surface, water can also be used as a source of oxygen. Electrolysis is a well-known technique that employs electric current to break apart water molecules into their constituent atoms; this releases hydrogen and oxygen gases. [1] After the greenhouse layer is in place, then machines could be employed to continually produce oxygen.

Oxygen extraction from rocky material [2]
Credit: Laura Kinoshita

Extraction of Oxygen (and hydrogen) from Water
Credit: US Dept of Energy

Temperature

Currently, temperatures on the Moon vary from -298 degrees Fahrenheit (-183 degrees Celsius), at night, in regions of no sunlight, to 224 degrees Fahrenheit (106 degrees Celsius) during the day, i.e. in the sun. [3] With an atmosphere – even a thin one – activity could be done to even out the highs and lows. For example, a means of circulation could facilitate a more habitable average temperature. If needed, heat could be vented from the moon’s mantle to its fledgling atmosphere. Controled explosions in the thin-crust mare regions could possibly be employed to unleash both heat and gases once the greenhouse layer was in place.

Solar Wind and Cosmic Rays

The Moon does NOT have a magnetosphere and without one, humans on the Moon would need to take measures to protect themselves from solar energetic particles and cosmic rays. This remains to be solved. There may be some favorable magnetic regions on the Moon such as the Reiner Gamma location (30 x 60 km). Many proponents of a Moon colony propose living underground. The author believes a solution can be found to repel or redirect rather than only shield against these harmful energetic particles.

Strategy

One of the key requirement for making the Moon a small habitable planet is a greenhouse shell. The Moon is a source of titanium [4] which is strong, resistent to corrosian, and has a favorable strength-to-density ratio [5].

Titanium on the Moon — Blue hues in the image above show titanium rich areas while areas with shades of orange and purple show regions relatively poor in titanium and iron. | Image Copyright: Alain Paillou; published on: https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap171111.html

Titanium could be extracted locally to create the scaffolding of the greenhouse shell. Borosilicate glass has a very low coefficient of thermal expansion which enables it to expand and contract with extreme temperatures without breaking [6]; it is strong. It could possibly be made locally on the Moon which is a source of silicates. Perhaps a substance like semi-transparent silicone elastomer which is non-reactive, stable, and resistant to extreme environments and temperatures could be used to connect boroscilicate glass hexagons (hexagons are efficient and a system of them have strength under compression). We would also want one or more space doors in the greenhouse shell.

An artificial transparent layer of borosilicate glass around the Moon would mimic a planet’s ice layer to contain atmospheric gases and facilitate uniform temperatures

Another key requirement is the capability to drill for water. The drilling machines needed for this task are too heavy to import from Earth, so they would need to be constructed locally. Both the titanium scaffolding for the greenhouse shell and drilling equipment require metal parts. What would it take to set up a Moon-based capability to start mining and extracting metals? Would it be possible to import a light-weight mostly ceramic dirt-moving vehicle to scoop up and move lunar dirt? Over time, dirt-moving vehicles could be built on the Moon. We’d also need to import or make on-site the equipment for metal extraction and smelting. After mining and extracting the desired metal ore, would the moon base need to create sheets of metal, or would casting be sufficient? We anticipate that the forging and fabrication that would be needed could be accomplished with sufficient problem-solving and planning. A NASA group envisioned a facitily like this one.

Space Mining Facility
Image credit: NASA

Many people believe that 3-D printers could be used to fabricate pieces of lunar homes. “A robot would conduct the 3D-printing program autonomously. The robot would use a mixture of lunar dirt and dust, called regolith, to cover an inflatable dome with layers of the robust material…,’ said Tommaso Ghidini, head of the [European Space Agency’s] ESA’s Materials Technology Section. … By using the moon’s indigenous material, space agencies can save money on the cost of flying pricey missions to and from the moon’s surface. ” [7]

Inside look at an idea the European Space Agency [ESA] is exploring in its formulation of a “moon village” that incorporates 3D printing. | Credit: ESA and Foster & Partners [2]

1.5 Metric Ton 3D Test-Print is made from simulated lunar dirt to show the cross-section of a proposed lunar home. | Credit: ESA

Robots could be employed to do a lot of the labor intensive work of building the greenhouse shell and building lunar structures. They could possibly be employed for mining metal ores and doing metal extraction also.

First Foothold to Live on the Moon includes: Robots; Daily Food, Water and Air; and Building Materials [8]
Credit: Karl Tate and SPACE.com Infographics Artist

“One of the problems is that there is a perception that to build a moon base would require some enormous quantity of money,” Paul Spudis , a lunar geologist with NASA [the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration], said. “That is simply not true. One of the things I looked at — and I did this about two years ago (Summer 2011) — is I specifically looked at how you can go back to the moon under the existing budget without any additional money for NASA — and you can do it.” [7]”

‘The consumables of air and water would largely be drawn from local resources,’ Spudis said. ‘They would not be imported from the Earth, but everything else would be. So, all of your high-tech equipment, all of your food, any kind of specialized needs — clothing, things like that — for the inhabitants would be brought from Earth.'” [7]

Why Go Through This Trouble?

In the 2017 report by the United Nations on the World Population Prospects, the current human population on Earth is 7.6 billion people. It is projected to be 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100 [9]. We, the people of Earth, need more habitable space to live in.In the 2017 report by the United Nations on the World Population Prospects, the current human population on Earth is 7.6 billion people. It is projected to be 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100 [9]. We, the people of Earth, need more habitable space to live in.

The Moon is the closest non-Earth rocky body for supporting human life. It has a source of water, between the crust and mantle, and the crust in some near-side locations is only 5-10 km. (Martian crust is much thicker.) Transportation for ferrying supplies and people can happen in a reasonably doable amount of time.

We humans also have an inherent desire to explore new lands and be pioneers. Antarctica is an Earth-based location where we can learn and develop strategies for living in extreme conditions including high bombardment by energetic particles. Preparation at Antarctica can help to facilitate the means for early Moon pioneers to live and work. Then, the Moon can facilitate the means for early Mars pioneers to prepare for living on a Marian outpost. From the Moon, people can push forward to be pioneers on Mars. From Mars people can attempt a settlement on the Jovian moon Ganymede, and then Jupiter itself. Ganymede has a protective magnetic field, an ice layer and most likely an atmosphere similar to Jupiter’s (under its ice layer). The presence of a magnetic field means that there is significant heat in the mantle and core. These are all favorable for supporting human life. Also, Ganymede could make a good test case to prepare for a pioneering project on Jupiter. This is because it would allow us to test the techniques to penetrate a large pseudo-planetary ice layer and deal with a liquid surface that may completely cover the rocky body below. [11] Mass Vortex Theory predicts a much different Jupiter than what has been taught to date (February 2018). https://massvortex.science/home-page/jupiters-ice-layer/

Economic opportunities are another reason to expand to the Moon. In addition to mining, the Moon is a much more ideal location for building and launching spacecraft. Lower gravity means that parts can be moved, rotated and manipulated with less energy, escape velocity is much less for the Moon (versus Earth), and there is more uninhabited land for operations. There may be other manufacturing processes that benefit from the low gravity of the Moon, as well.

“Current arguments for establishing a lunar colony include the following potential uses, according to Space.com reporter Karl Tate [8]:

  • mining for resources (oxygen, rocket fuel, construction materials)
  • energy production (solar power, helium 3 mining for nuclear fusion)
  • astronomical observations from the Moon’s far side, and
  • tourism

NASA adds these reasons for setting up a solar-powered Moon base near one of the lunar poles, as reported by David Darling [10]:

  • Extend human presence to the Moon to enable eventual settlement.
  • Pursue scientific activities that address fundamental questions about the history of Earth, the Solar System and the Universe.
  • Test technologies, systems, flight operations and exploration techniques to reduce the risks and increase the productivity of future missions to Mars and beyond.
  • Provide a challenging, shared and peaceful activity that unites nations in pursuit of common objectives.
  • Expand Earth’s economic sphere, and conduct lunar activities with benefits to life on the home planet.
  • Use a vibrant space exploration program to engage the public, encourage students and help develop the high-tech workforce that will be required to address the challenges of tomorrow.

The current US political will is to refocus NASA on the Moon [12]. With a stronger economy returning to the US, there will be a more stable national revenue to fund NASA’s endeavors in this direction. Let’s provide our support and good will to NASA, ESA and private organizations as they undertake missions to colonize the Moon and make it habitable.


Image Credit: NASA

Footnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis_of_water
[2] https://www.space.com/21583-moon-base-lunar-colony-photos.html
[3] http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/ask/168-What-is-the-temperature-on-the-Moon-
[4] https://www.space.com/13247-moon-map-lunar-titanium.html
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium
[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borosilicate_glass
[7] https://www.space.com/21611-moon-base-lunar-colony-guide.html
[8] https://www.space.com/21588-how-moon-base-lunar-colony-works-infographic.html
[9] https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/world-population-prospects-the-2017-revision.html
[10] http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/M/Moon_base.html
[1]] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganymede_(moon)#Internal_structure
[12] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2018/01/09/nasa-is-going-back-to-the-moon-if-it-can-figure-out-how-to-get-there/?utm_term=.af5b75e7adf8&wpisrc=nl_rainbow&wpmm=1

© 2018 S. Seaver

Example of a Robot-Manufactured Structure

Robots wove carbon-fibers to create the hexagon-patterned Elytra Filament Pavilion.

Installed as part of the Vitra’s “Hello, Robot. Design between Human and Machine” exhibition, the 200-square-meter Elytra Filament Pavilion in London shows off the power of robotics in architecture. The University of Stuttgart’s Institute for Computational Design (ICD) and the Institute of Building Structures and Structural Design (ITKE) developed a unique robotic fabrication technique to create the pavilion’s 40 modular hexagonal units, each of which weigh 45 kilograms and take about three hours to make. https://inhabitat.com/biomimetic-pavilion-shows-how-robots-are-revolutionizing-architecture/