Section 1 – Your Moon Camp
Describe your Moon Camp.
- Write a short summary of the project. (Max 200 words).
- Project Selene represents a significant milestone in the evolution of modern astronautical engineering by aiming to establish the first manned space settlement on the Moon. The foremost goal of the three phase project is to create a self-sustaining lunar habitat focused on conducting scientific research. The Shackleton crater at the Moon’s South Pole has been selected as the ideal location for the Moon camp, considering its resource abundance, radiation coverage, inhabitant safety, quality of life, and scientific value.
- To shield astronauts from the harsh lunar environment, the Moon camp will be constructed underground using the regolith as a natural barrier against micrometeorites and as insulation against temperature fluctuations. To provide protection against high radiation events, the project includes a dedicated room reinforced with thicker aluminium walls. To prevent the harmful effects of the regolith on both humans and equipment, special space suits and cleaning systems will be utilised.The Moon camp will enable astronauts to have sustainable access to essential resources such as water, food, air, and power. Water will be obtained by extracting water ice from the poles and by using reverse osmosis, while fresh food will be produced by combining hydroponics with plant growth in lunar regolith.
- Why do you want to build a Moon Camp? Explain the main purpose of your Moon Camp (for example scientific, commercial and/or touristic purposes). (Max 150 words).
- In our team’s perspective, a Moon Camp represents a starting point in modern astronautical evolution. The final aim of Project Selene is the colonisation of the lunar habitat. However, in order to achieve our goal the moon camp had to be structured in three main stages.
- Due to high transportation costs and research purposes, the first phase of Project Selene will consist solely of the strictly necessary for the first settlers, which will be professionals that are to conduct research. During this stage, engineers and scientists will rigorously map and inspect the lunar territory to ensure further expansion of our Moon camp. Stage 2 consists of the enlargement of our base and the assurance of the overall development for future inhabitants, whilst Phase 3 involves the bringing of the Earth colonists. By the end of this stage, Project Selene is going to become a touristic and commercial settlement, while maintaining its initial scientific purpose.
Section 2 – Building your Moon Camp
The environment on the Moon is very harsh and dangerous for the astronauts. A Moon base needs to provide protection against radiation, meteorites, extreme temperatures, and the vacuum of space.
- Where do you want to build your Moon Camp? Explain your choice. (Max 150 words).
- After thoroughly studying the lunar environment, it has been determined that the most promising location is by far the Shackleton crater, located at the South Pole. In order to decide, we had to analyse a couple of conclusive factors such as resources, radiation coverage, inhabitants safety and life quality, and also scientific importance. The Shackleton crater has exceeded by far our expectations in each of the previously listed categories, leaving us psyched for what Project Selene can achieve if placed here.
- The crater’s rim receives almost year-round sunlight, providing our Moon camp constant solar energy. Furthermore, due to Shackleton’s shadowed interior, ice has accumulated in its floor, which is crucial. By electrolysis, a water molecule can be separated into oxygen and hydrogen gases. The obtained hydrogen can be used for fuel, while oxygen is critical for residents. In addition, the walls offer protection from radiation and moon dust, which are both lethal.
- How do you plan to build your Moon Camp? Consider how you can utilise the Moon’s natural resources, and which materials you would need to bring from Earth. Describe the techniques, materials and your design choices. (Max 250 words).
- Planning and building the moon camp will be the most time and resource expensive part of the whole Selene project. Thus, it is of utmost importance that the lunar infrastructure allows for local mining of materials and a serene transition to fabricating basic quantities with an almost complete autonomy from Earth. One of the most worrisome parts of the construction is going to be the maintenance of airtightness within the habitats.
- However, a new form of concrete from the sulphur-rich regolith could easily be created except for the mandatory water which is going to be at a premium. Another form of geotextile with a foamy texture is going to be needed to seal off the chambers and create the airtight environment. As a complementary to these materials, cast regolith is going to be used; a material strikingly similar to cast basalt on Earth. This material is obtained by melting regolith in a mould which is slowly cooled în order to allow for a crystalline structure to form; a process which is greatly aided by the low gravity of the Moon. The benefits of this material are its highly compressive and moderately tensile properties, allowing for building parts to have as much as ten times the compressive and tensile strength than of Earth concrete.
- Therefore, the early stages of construction will take advantage of primarily Earth materials, building the infrastructure to allow for regolith casting, a material highly resistant to erosion and an ideal shielding against micrometeorites and radiation.
- How does your Moon Camp protect and provide shelter to your astronauts against the Moon’s harsh environment? (Max 300 words).
- Our moon camp will have to protect the astronauts against the many threats of the harsh lunar environment: radiation, micrometeorites, high temperature fluctuations and moon dust.
- By building our base underground, we will use concrete regolith as a natural shield against micrometeorites. Even at shallow depths of around 1m, the lunar soil can absorb most cosmic rays as well as the lower energy solar particles, which will drastically reduce the quantity of materials needed for radiation protection and thus the cost of our settlement. Nevertheless, in order to ensure astronaut safety during high radiation events, such as solar storms, a dedicated room reinforced with thicker aluminium walls will provide more adequate shelter. What’s more, thanks to its remarkable thermal properties, the cast regolith will also provide a first layer of insulation reducing the energy required to maintain constant temperatures within the habitat in spite of the hundreds of degrees of temperature variation on the outside.
- Lastly, because of its structure, composed of very fine and sharp particles, regolith is harmful to both humans and equipment, but also notoriously hard to clean, as evidenced by the early Apollo missions. To achieve minimum exposure to lunar dust, we will employ a combination of systems: Firstly, special space suits will be used, connecting directly to airlocks, thus minimising astronaut contact with contaminated surfaces. Furthermore, cleaning of residue will be performed using air suction, while stray airborne particles will be captured by the air filtering system. A positive pressure differential between the settlement atmosphere and the airlocks will also ensure as little dust as possible gets inside our moon base. Secondly, all the regolith samples collected will be placed in sealed compartments and analysed using gloveboxes, thus never coming into contact with the clean air of the settlement.
Section 3 – Living on the Moon
On the Moon, resources are very scarce, but during long Moon missions astronauts cannot rely on resupply missions from the Earth.
- How will your Moon Camp provide astronauts with sustainable access to basic needs like water, food, air and power? (Max 300 words).
- With the required special equipment due to high temperatures, astronauts are going to be able to remove water ice from the poles. Furthermore, we will generate healthy drinking water by using reverse osmosis to remove most contaminants from water by pushing it under pressure through a semipermeable membrane. We are to perform this process twice a week and collect the remaining water in a reservoir.
- Our idea for producing fresh food on site involves an essential lunar greenhouse, where we will combine hydroponics with growing plants in lunar regolith, thus supplying our space explorers with the much-needed nutrients. The astronauts will provide carbon dioxide by breathing and extract water for the plants from their urine by using the Water Recycling System. Regarding hydroponics, we have performed an analogue experiment in our Physics laboratory, studying the effects of the symbiotic relationship between legumes and the nitrogen-fixing Rhizobia bacteria on plant nodulation, varying variables such as: light colour & intensity, magnetic field, and Rhizobia content.
- As we have decided to place our base near the rim of the Shackleton crater on the South Pole, we will benefit from permanent sunlight. Then, we are going to store solar power in fuel cells, which are safer and more efficient than common batteries. These will also store extra power for use during lunar eclipses, also avoiding the problem of lunar eclipses when Earth entirely blocks sunlight.
- Before we leave Earth, we are going to make some “supplies” with enough oxygen for the first few days on the moon. Then, we will process the oxygen-rich regolith: one experimentally proven method is molten salt electrolysis which involves mixing the lunar soil at high temperatures with calcium chloride, and then, by running a current through the mixture, the oxygen gathers around the anode where it is harvested.
- How will your Moon Camp deal with the waste produced by the astronauts on the Moon? (Max 150 words).Our Moon Camp is going to be equipped with a special waste management system that will be able to dispose of all the waste generated by the astronauts. First, all waste will be sorted into organic and non-organic, and the organic waste will be recycled into fertiliser to be used in the camp’s gardens. Further, non-organic waste will be broken down into small particles and placed in sealed containers for storage. To ensure that the waste does not contaminate the lunar environment, the containers are going to be placed in a designated area away from the camp and its activities. The containers will then be collected by a robotic vehicle and transported to an incinerator located in an area where the emissions will not cause any harm to the environment. The incinerator will also be equipped with a filter to ensure that no hazardous substances are released.
- How will your Moon Camp maintain communications with Earth and other Moon bases? (Max 150 words).
- To keep in touch with Earth and other Moon bases, our settlement will rely on an advanced satellite communication system. This system will enable two-way communication, allowing us to send and receive messages. Moreover, we are going to use a combination of shortwave radio, high-frequency radio, satellite communications, and laser communications.
- For long-distance communication, the camp is going to use a combination of radio and laser signals to send messages across the lunar surface, whilst for short-distance, we will use radio and satellite signals to communicate with other Moon bases. The camp will also use voice, video, and data transmission systems, as well as data encryption technology, so to ensure secure communication.
- Additionally, the system is going to be built to function in a variety of environments, including extreme temperatures, low visibility, and long distances. Finally, the system will use a variety of antennas to ensure that signals are sent and received with the highest possible accuracy.
Section 4 – Science and Technology on the Moon
- What scientific topic(s) would be the focus of the research in your Moon Camp? Explain which experiments you plan to do on the Moon (for example in the topics of geology, low gravity environment, biology, technology, robotics, astronomy etc.). (Max 300 words).
- At first, the purpose of our Moon Camp will be solely scientific, the analysed topics being divided as follows: Geology, Low Gravity and Biology; Astronomy; Robotics and Technology. To maximise efficiency, our dazzling crew will be split into smaller departments of experts: Biologists, Astronomers, Engineers or Environmental Scientists.
- First, a top purpose of our base will involve a combination between geology and biology, thus studying the possibility of growing plants in lunar regolith. Nevertheless, our greenhouse also includes the hydroponics experiment, which will be taken one step higher by examining how plants evolve in the low gravity environment on the Moon, compared to our Earth control batches, as explained in the Food section.
- It goes without saying that constructing a moon habitat directly implies studying the astronomical facet. Therefore, we aim to thoroughly explain the origin and evolution of the Moon and to exploit it to its fullest potential.
- Being the first permanent human settlement on the moon, one of its major goals will be to pave the way for humanity’s colonisation of other planets in our solar system, providing an accurate test bed for new technologies aimed at the exploration and settlement of new worlds. Moreover, the development of robotics systems adapted to the lunar environment is crucial, as performant rovers are absolutely necessary when it comes to transportation on the Moon.
- To sum up, our motivated team is bound to come up with groundbreaking lunar discoveries in various fields, as we will doubtlessly implement an increasing number of research programs on a wide range of scientific topics, some of which have not been investigated before. For instance, we plan on further studying other key subjects (Physics, Biochemistry, Ecology or Zoology) or even Immunology (assessing the transmissibility of COVID-19 on the Moon).
Section 5 – Life as an astronaut
- What would you include in your astronaut training programme, to help prepare the astronauts for a Moon mission? (Max 300 words).
- To ensure the capabilities of the crew, there will have to be many tests and immersive programs which are going to prepare scientists for maintaining the first ever base on a moon. Thus, preparation will be similar to ISS training with a focus on autonomous control without the need to communicate with Earth.
- There will be on site training with mission simulations which prepare the crew for the hardships which are probable to encounter. Moreover, participants will also be taught moon base resource management skills and learn to develop and share situational awareness în a complex mission environment.
- Moreover, courses on developing better active learning skills, communication protocols and how to package comm-loop calls are to be added to the schedule. Thus, there would also be a need to discuss Gateway related operations, including a required tele-operation element and a reference mission for lunar surface landing sites and traverses.
- In addition, the team will have to be familiarised with the exploration extravehicular mobility unit for astronauts. As well as this, there is going to be a simulation in which operational architecture integrates science and rover operations within a control room which is to accustom the crew with remote control of the rovers on site.
- Therefore, our crew will have to take part in a tailored program of 3 weeks which is tol fully accustom them with the way Selene is going to be operated and constructed.
- What space vehicles will your future Moon mission need? Describe the vehicles found in your Moon camp and consider how you will travel to and from Earth, and explore new destinations on the Moon’s surface. (Max 150 words).
- In order to efficiently explore vast surfaces on the moon, the moon camp will dispose of multiple types of vehicles. Thus, there are to be two types of autonomous rovers: one designed for the extraction and transportation of water ice while the other used for scouting of new terrain. For long distance missions, astronauts will also make use of a crewed vehicle. This will have to be equipped with a pressurised module able to accommodate up to three people and be completely self-sufficient for multiple days at a time.
- When it comes to the journey to and from Earth, this will be performed in two stages: First, astronauts will leave Earth on a rocket which will take them to the lunar orbit. Then, the capsule will rendezvous with NASA’s lunar gateway, where the crew will embark on a lander in order to arrive on the surface of the moon.