NASA Ames Research Center  + Visit the NASA portal Site Accessibility Notes
 challenge banner showing moon-like landscape
mobile habitat running across the face of the moon

Welcome to the

Lunar Research Station Design Challenge
Chat Archive: October 23, 2006

Quest_Moderator <A>We have a large group of folks in the chat room. Our experts Jon Rask and Jen Heldmann are working on your questions.

Anthony_-_homeschool_WV <Q>Would cement break or crack if a there is a moon quake or if a meteoroid hits it?
Jon_Rask <A>Yes - Presuming that a large enough force would be imparted. But remember, the Moon does not have the same type of internal activity like the Earth does.

Mrs.Richards_5th_grade <Q>zarybnisky and my class is viewing with Mrs. Richards's class.
Quest_Moderator <A>Welcome! Glad to have you

brendan_casey <Q>I know this is really early, but we because of circumstances we won't be able to respond on Monday. We are having a hard time in dealing with fuel sources. We have considered solar power and methane producing bacteria, but we don't know how much would be necessary to sustain a four or five person station. Yes, we would be conducting reseach and some exploration with a rover but roughly how much of a supply do we need to sustain basic life support.
Jen_Heldmann <A>Great that you are considering fuel sources. Solar power is an excellent option to explore. Remember that using solar power may affect your site selection (for example, near the lunar poles there are regions of permanent or near permanent sunlight, but at the equator you would have 14 days of sunlight and 14 days of darkness). It is difficult to assess just how much power you will need because it is highly dependent upon your activities and operations.

Mrs.Richards_5th_grade <Q>Are we at the right place to see the web cast?
Quest_Moderator <A>Today's communication is a web chat. The webcast is scheduled for December.

Jon_Rask <Q>Hello Everyone.

Anthony_-_homeschool_WV <Q>Would walkie talkies work to communicate on the moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A>This is a good idea and it is great that you are considering communications on the Moon. Yes, you could use walkie talkies. You could link together astronauts working in different locations, wirelessly connect instruments that are in various locations on the Moon, etc. This is a very active area of research at NASA.

Nishant_Sardar_Patel_High_School <Q>Hello.......Should we attach any computer graphics for the lunar design?
Quest_Moderator <A>Computer graphics, if helpful in understanding your design, would be great. Think about how they would appear on the web, as that is the way we will be displaying them.

Hayley_at_WestValleySchool <Q>1. How much oxygen do humans need in a day and how much carbon dioxide do we give off in a day?
Jon_Rask <A>Humans need a continous supply - we've adapted to the approximately 21% Oxygen in it. If I recall correctly, we exhale around 1 kg of CO2 a day.

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>hi scientists!

Patience_Mr._Harris_s_class <Q>can we start asking questions?
Quest_Moderator <A>Questions are being answered as I type. Please send yours in asap.

Vaibhav_at_WESTVALLEYSCHOOL <Q>Can you generate water from urine through a microbial bioreactor?
Jen_Heldmann <A>There are many ways that you could generate water and recycling urine is certainly one of them. Using microbes is certainly an option but there are other ways as well. You might want to explore physio-chemical reactions that could extract the water from urine, too.

Brooke-homeschool__W.V. <Q>How do you get the oxygen from the greenhouse to the rest of the lunar base?
Jon_Rask <A>It would have to be circulated from the greenhouse with fans in a forced air convection system.

Scott_Harris <Q>has the presentation started?
Quest_Moderator <A>Yes! Jon and Jen have each answered a questions and have lots in the quque. If you want yours answered, please submit them now.

Savage_School <Q>Do the ice caps exist and provide a source of water?
Jon_Rask <A>Yes - both on Earth and on Mars. There are even places on the Moon where there may be reserves of ice deep inside craters.

Aaron_at_WestValleySchool <Q>What is a good way to transport ice from one of the lunar poles to a research station nearby?
Jen_Heldmann <A>This is an excellent question. If there is ice at the lunar poles then it is located in an EXTREMELY cold region and a region that is in permanent shadow (meaning the sun never shines there so it is always dark)! You have to design a robotic means of extracting the ice first without much (if any) human intervention. Then you need to pump that water and/or ice up out of the permanently shadowed region up to the top of the crater wall or cliff into the sunlight (where the people can work). Then, depending on where your research station is located, you have to transport the water to the base (how do you do this? Pump through pipes? Transport with a truck?) NASA is still working out these details so your ideas are most welcome!

Patience_Mr._Harris_s_class <Q>what type of surface does the moon have?
Quest_Moderator <A>Have you looked through the articles on:

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>can we do all the energy power by solar?
Jon_Rask <A>It depends upon how much energy is needed and when. Right now, we use solar to maintain small spacecraft and the electrical systems of the International Space Station. But we need higher energy density fuel sources for launch and other highly energy consumptive processes.

AlinaMr._Harris_Class <Q>Is there any limit to the space we can provide for the astronauts?::ninja
Jen_Heldmann <A>Your only limit to the amount of space you can provide for the astronaut is if you have enough resources (power, oxygen to breathe, maintaining temperature within the habitat, etc.) to sustain the astronauts. Right now the whole Moon is open for exploration so the physical amount of space isn't a large constraint.

AlinaMr._Harris_Class <Q>What is the chance of a meteor hitting the Lunar Outpost?
Jon_Rask <A>This is possible, but the chances are very small.

Scott_Harris <Q>What are the benifits of having an underground lunar base?
Jen_Heldmann <A>One of the biggest advantages of having an underground lunar base is that the overlying regolith (or Moon dirt) can help shield the astronauts from harmful radiation. Because the Moon doesn't have an atmosphere (like Earth) there is no protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation (no ozone layer on the Moon) and also the Moon lacks a large magnetic field like Earth has to protect us from harmful space radiation. Putting the habitat underground can help protect against this radiation.

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>Can we dig on the moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A>Yes, you can dig on the Moon but you must remember to bring the proper tools with you to do the job depending on how deep you want to dig.

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>Can we transport enough air to the moon so you can go inside the lunar outpost and breathe normally?::blink
Jen_Heldmann <A>Yes, you could transport air with you to the Moon to breathe. However, consider other options such as using resources already on the Moon. For example, there is oxygen in the Moon rocks which you could extract. There also may be water ice at the lunar poles (H2O), so could you extract the oxygen from the water?

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>should we build above or under the moon because of cost? If so how do you dig on the moon?::tongue
Jen_Heldmann <A>It is up to you whether you place your Moon base on the lunar surface or underground. Consider the advantages of each (for example, building underground will shield the astronauts from harmful space radiation, but building underground may be more difficult). You can use techniques that have been developed on Earth to dig on the Moon as well. Depending on how deep you want to dig, what tools would you use? Shovels? Large tractors with hoes?

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>Should we build above or under ground for the price ?
Jon_Rask <A>One of the most challenging aspects of a human outpost on the Moon is the radiation environmen that people will be exposed to when on the surface. This radiation (made up of UV, cosmic rays, gamma and x-rays and other electromagnetic radiation) is deadly. Because the Moon lacks a magnetic field and does not have an atmosphere, the surface is constantly bathed in this deadly radiation. Building below ground helps to shield from the radiation. This may be expensive, but you could use the lunar regolith to cover up a base.

will <Q>What's the best way to completly close a door so not even air comes in?
Jen_Heldmann <A>You need to make sure the seal is extremely tight. Consider different sealants that might work. Also, consider the role of lunar dust. The dust on the Moon is a big problem because it tends to get stuck and ruin your air-tight seals. This is an important consideration when designing your airlock.

Nik_-_Mrs._Phillips_8th_grade <Q>Should we include exact dimensions for our station in our design?
Quest_Moderator <A>Yes, your design should include dimentions, materials, access details, etc.

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>Hi.we are trying to get running water on the moon.can we get it from earth somehow,and if not,have you found anythig about ice on the moon?
Jon_Rask <A>You can transport liquid water from Earth to the Moon. But this is very expensive and difficult. Ideally, one would like to use a resource of ice on the Moon, and it might be found deep in a crater on the south pole of the Moon like Shoemaker or Shackleton

cesarharris <Q>would an octagon shaped dome be a good shape or should we make it a square?
Jen_Heldmann <A>You can make your habitat any shape you like. When making your design, consider the advantages of each shape and also how the shape affects the interior design of the habitat.

AlinaMr._Harris_Class <Q>what were we to do if the power station fails?
Jen_Heldmann <A>Great question. It is important to have a back-up power supply in case your main power station fails. Think about different ideas for how you could have back-up power. Would you use a generator? Would you have extra batteries?

Nishant_Sardar_Patel_High_School <Q>What can we use the lunar base for?
Quest_Moderator <A>This particular design is for a Research Station. See the use on the Teachers' page.

AlinaMr._Harris_Class <Q>if we are to put the station partly underground, should we drill or blast a hole?
Jon_Rask <A>Instead of digging or blasting a hole, you might consider using a small existing crater, build a structure over the top of it, and cover it with nearby Lunar regolith.

AlinaMr._Harris_Class <Q>should we waste power on things like electric eggbeaters and TVs?::laugh
Quest_Moderator <A>I'm guessing you answered your own question?

Paul_at_WestValleySchool <Q>1) Would it be possible to use energy to build a lightning wall above our outpost to destroy meteors? 2) Is it impossible to pipe water from the poles to the outpost?
Jen_Heldmann <A>1) You have to consider how much power building a lightning wall would take and if it is too much, are there other alternatives for protecting against meteors? (For example, what if you built the habitat underground on the Moon? Would that protect you against meteors?)

Paul_at_WestValleySchool <Q>1) Would it be possible to use energy to build a lightning wall above our outpost to destroy meteors? 2) Is it impossible to pipe water from the poles to the outpost?
Jen_Heldmann <A>1) You have to consider how much power it would take to build a lightning wall and examine whether or not there are any other alternatives to shield against meteors (for example, what if you built the habitat underground?) 2) It is not impossible to pipe water from the poles (if it exists there - we're not sure yet) to the outpost but you have to design an appropriate system. Also remember that any water at the poles will be in the form of water ice located in VERY cold regions of permanent shadow (where the sun never shines!) so you must design a system for this.

Scott_Harris <Q>Would Solar Energy be enough to sustain an entire lunar base, or would you have to have alternate energy sources?
Jon_Rask <A>It may be possible if the energy requirements and demands of the lunar outpost isn't too high. For any launch, you would need higher energy density fuels. For highly energy consumptive processes like mining, you might a need high energy density rich fuels. A small RTG reactor could be very helpful in producing huge amounts of energy in a small amount of space. (RTG = radioisotope thermoelectric generator)

west_valley <Q>Sydney West Valley: Can we use rovers to pick up the ice caps from the poles?
Jon_Rask <A>Yes you may.

erik <Q>what is the cloth made of used to make space suits?
Jen_Heldmann <A>There are many different materials used to make spacesuits depending on the function of the particular piece. For example, the helmet is composed of a harder material and the face shield must be see-through but also provide protection. The gloves must allow the astronaut enough flexibility to work with his/her hands. The boots must offer protection, have good traction, etc. Your design must take all these factors into account!

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>what type of fitness equipment should we take to the moon?
Jon_Rask <A>Take something like an ergometer (like a bicycle that you can adjust the force required to pedal) and exercise equipment that uses rubber bands to provide the resistance (that way you're not hauling all that heavy iron in dumbells)
Jen_Heldmann <A>You should probably take equipment that will give the astronauts a good workout, is fun to use, and that doesn't take up a lot of space! Many astronauts aboard the International Space Station use resistance training (because they are in microgravity). Remember on the Moon the gravity is 1/6 the gravity of Earth - so if you brought 60 pound weights, they wouldn't weigh 60 pounds on the Moon!

Nik_-_Mrs._Phillips_8th_grade <Q>would it be good to have a planetarium in our space staition?
Jen_Heldmann <A>It is up to you if you'd like to have a planetarium in your space station. Depending on where your lunar base is located, you may or may not be able to see the night sky (there are some locations near the lunar poles that are in permanent or near-permanent sunlight all year long. Conversely, locations near the equator have 14 days of daylight and then 14 days of darkness). Consider the benefits of having a planetarium and make sure you have the resources to build and run it on the Moon.

Richards_5th_Grade <Q>If your base is located underground would it be safe from metorite impacts?Type here
Jen_Heldmann <A>It depends on how deep your habitat is underground and how bit the meteorite impact is. Bigger meteorites that impact the Moon make bigger (and deeper) craters.

Patience_Mr._Harris_s_class <Q>What type of enviroment does the moon have?
Quest_Moderator <A>Hi Patience, Check out the page we provided with all that kind of information on the moon. It's at:

Richards_5th_Grade <Q>Would magnets hold any part of the lab down or remove iron from dust on the moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A>We have not yet found strongly magnetic rocks on the lunar surface so perhaps a scouting mission is needed to your proposed site to investigate this further.

garay <Q>Is nuclear power a good idea for an energy source?
Jon_Rask <A>Yes - because it has a high energy density, However, because you would be using a radioactive fuel, and subsequently be producing radioactive wastes, you would need to consider that in the development of your outpost.
Jen_Heldmann <A>You can consider any power sources that you can think of - just make sure that when you decide you think about the amount of power that can be generated and make sure that it is a safe system for the crew to use.

AlinaMr._Harris_Class <Q>::wub thank you. i have to go.
Quest_Moderator <A>Thanks for joining us -- You can check back later when the archive is up to see all of the answers.

west_valley <Q>Arron West Valley: Can we use vacuum pyrolysis to take the oxygen out of the moon dust and then use the slag to make a radiation shield ?::ninja
Jen_Heldmann <A>This is a great idea and certainly worth pursuing. One thing to consider is how deep of a shield do you need for adequate radiation shielding if using the slag from the lunar regolith (moon dirt)?

west_valley <Q>Chris West Valley: Would an enclosed dam be useful to create electricity?::cool
Jen_Heldmann <A>An enclosed dam might not be the most productive way to create electricity on the Moon because there are no rivers, lakes, or other bodies of water on the Moon (which are required to produce electricity using a dam).

ms_schock <Q>Is having solar panels enough energy on the moon?
Jon_Rask <A>It may be, depending upon your location on the Moon, and depending whether or not you need a lot of energy to produce anything from the lunar regolith. If you want to manufacture anything, you may need more energy than what solar panels can provide.
Jen_Heldmann <A>This depends on how much energy you need and how big your solar panels are. It also depends on how long the solar panels are exposed to the sunlight. If you want to use solar power you might want to consider putting your lunar base near the poles because near the poles there are some places that are in the sunlight almost all the time.

cesarharris <Q>Can we shoot our trash in a capsule back at the earth so it burns up in the atmosphere? Are there any negatives effects to this?
Jen_Heldmann <A>This is certainly an option but consider how much energy it would take to launch all of your trash from the lunar surface. You would have to have enough fuel to launch the rocket and you would have to have all of the resources to support rocket launches for this purpose.You can shoot your trash back in a capsule towards the Earth so that it burns up in the atmosphere. That's actually how they get rid of some of the trash from the International Space Station. One of the negative effects might be that you never get your capsule back!

west_valley <Q>Chris: How do you know so much about space?
Jen_Heldmann <A>I know a lot about space because I think it is really interesting and cool and so I worked very hard in school and studied a lot to learn as much as I could. Now I have a really cool job at NASA and my job is fun -- so if you find something that you like, work hard in school and you will learn a lot, too!

cesarharris <Q>I would like more information about how the scale model of the outpost is supposed to work. Materials, size, restrictions, etc.
Quest_Moderator <A>That is what you will be deciding as you design. That's a big part of the "challenge!"

Patience_Mr._Harris_s_class <Q>Thank you::biggrin I have to leave
Quest_Moderator <A>Thanks for joining us!

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>would it be okay if we built a landing site inside of a crater or would that have any effect on anything? Also can you still get solar power under ground?
Jen_Heldmann <A>Yes, you can build a landing site inside of a crater if you like. Just make sure it is big enough so that you have enough space to build and also so that you can land accurately there. If you want to use solar power you have to have the solar panels on the lunar surface. If the solar panels are underground they won't work because no sunlight will reach them. However, if your habitat is underground you can use wires to transport the electricity from the solar panels on the surface to the habitat underground.

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>Thank you this chat was very helpful but I have to go ! THANKS::tongue ::up
Quest_Moderator <A>We'll look forward to your designs.
Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>BYE!

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>Exactly how big (in known existance) can a meteor that hits the moon be?
Jen_Heldmann          <A>The size and number of meteors that have hit the Moon have changed over time. A LONG time ago (~4 BILLION years ago), there were a lot of meteors hitting the Moon, and they were BIG (creating craters 1000s of km big)! Now there aren't so many big impacts on the Moon. Mostly the Moon just gets hit with small dust particles from space.

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>How big should a typical greenhouse be so it can provide a good percentage of oxygen , but can have a lot of plants picked for food?
Jon_Rask <A>It would have to be quite large to produce both edible food and the oxygen needed for the outpost's crew to breathe. Initially, if you want to incorporate a greenhouse in your outpost, start with something small to test the technology that grows the plants, then you can scale it up later.
Jen_Heldmann <A>This depends on what you will grow in your greenhouse and how many people you have at your base to support. What types of foods would you grow? Would you plan to grow all of your food in the greenhouse or would you bring some of it from Earth?

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>Thank you!::laugh it was very helpful,but I have to go now.bye!!!::biggrin
Quest_Moderator <A>We were glad to chat with you

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>Exactly how big (in known existance) can a meteor that hits the moon be?
Jen_Heldmann <A>The size of typical meteors hitting the Moon has changed over time. A LONG time ago (about 4.5 billion years ago, when the solar system first formed), very large rocks would impact the Moon - some 1000s of km big! That doesn't happen much anymore and now the Moon is mostly hit with smaller rock fragments and pieces of dust.

3434 <Q>do you have to make a model?
Quest_Moderator <A>That's a big part of the challenge.

cesarharris <Q>Thank you--this was helpful. I have to go.

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>I will be checking the archives later to see if my questions were answered! Thanks again!

Richards_5th_Grade <Q>Would titanium be a good building material for habitat on the moon?Is it available on the moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A>There is titanium on the Moon in the form of titanium dioxide, so if you wanted to use the Ti you would have to extract it from these titanium dioxide rocks. These rocks are mostly concentrated in the mare regions of the Moon.

Patience_Mr._Harris_s_class <Q>The location group is thinking of McKinney falls, what do you think?
Jen_Heldmann <A>Any site you choose is ok as long as you justify why you want to go there. Right now we assume that the whole Moon is open for exploration so it is up to you to select your final landing site.

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>How cold is it on the moon?
Quest_Moderator <A>See above answers about the background information sources.

Patience_Mr._Harris_s_class <Q>What type of enviroment shold the location group be looking for?
Jen_Heldmann <A>It depends on what your main goals are. If you want to explore craters you should land near (or in) a crater. If you want to study the mare regions, land there. If you want to use solar power you might want to go where there is near-permanent sunlight (which is near the poles). Any site that you select is ok as long as you justify why you chose that site.

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>what kind of technology would prevent dust and radiation problems on a lunar base?
Quest_Moderator <A>This is what makes this an exciting challenge! You get to decide. It is great that you recognize that these are problems that your design will need to address!

Nishant_Sardar_Patel_High_School <Q>Will there be any problems to human health due to lack of gravity on moon?
Jon_Rask <A>Potentially. Space biologists know that when in microgravity, you lose approximately 1-2% of your bone mass per month. While that rate will be less on the moon, you will still lose bone mass. This will cause the skeletal system to be weakened, and the muscles to also astrophy. In addition, the immune system is also weakened during spaceflight. We also don't know how long antibiotics last in space and how much it takes to kill disease causing microbes that could be present in the spacecraft. Possibly an even bigger biological challenge for humans is the damaging radiation on the surface of the Moon. The Moon is bathed in deadly radiation (we're mostly protected from it on Earth, thanks to the atmosphere and the Earth's magnetic field.
Jen_Heldmann          <A>This is a good question that we need to study when we send people back to the Moon. The only people that have ever gone to the Moon were the Apollo astronauts and they only stayed there for a few days, so we really need to have people stay longer to figure out the long-term health effects of living on the Moon.

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>Should there be dormitories ? If so how many should there be?
Jen_Heldmann <A>You definitely need someplace for the astronauts to live and work. How many rooms and how much space you need depends on how many people you plan on sending to the Moon. For the first human missions back to the Moon NASA is considering sending 4 people on the first missions.

3434 <Q>do you make a model
Quest_Moderator <A>Yes, either full- or scale-sized.

ms_schock <Q>could you power a moon buggy with solar panels
Jon_Rask <A>You could, but assume its ability to accelerate would be very slow, and it couldn't be very big or carry much mass.
Jen_Heldmann          <A>Sure, you could power a moon buggy with solar panels. Remember, though, that you can't generate the power if it is nighttime on the Moon, so you will need something like batteries to store the power - or you could choose to land at a site that has lots of sunlight. For example, there are areas near the north and south poles on the Moon where the Sun almost never sets, so it is almost always daytime!

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>bye!!!thanks!!!

ms_schock <Q>is it likely that huge meteors Jen_Heldmann          <A>It is not too likely that a large meteor will hit the Moon anytime soon. Big impacts were much more common earlier in the history of the Solar System (like 4 BILLION years ago!) but most of these big impacts have stopped now.Mwill hit the moon anytime soon?
Jon_Rask <A>There is always a chance that a meteor will hit the moon. Tiny objects strike it quite commonly (like the Earth), but the big ones are much less often.
Jen_Heldmann <A>It is not too likely that a large meteor will hit the Moon anytime soon. Big impacts were much more common earlier in the history of the Solar System (like 4 BILLION years ago!) but most of these big impacts have stopped now.

Nishant_Sardar_Patel_High_School <Q>Thank you..........Its 11.20 in the night here in India.I have to now.BYE!
Quest_Moderator We're so glad you joined us

Richards_5th_Grade <Q>Thank you, we have to leave now.
Quest_Moderator <A>
garay <Q>Our school was closed today, our questions were submitted, will look for answers on archives-thanks so much, this was helpful and interesting!

3434 <Q>what is the model like? or wat does it have to be like?
Quest_Moderator <A>The point of the design is that you will determine what it looks like. Depending on what materials you want to simulate, you could use fabric, popsicle sticks, legos, clay, your emagination is your limit. The important thing is to determine why you would use one material over another!

3434 <Q>i am from p.e.i, canada
thanx 4 the help

Mr._Wallace <Q>Is there any kind of data on how partial (Moon) gravity affects humans?
Jon_Rask <A>There is some data out there, but very, very little. There have only been 12 people that have actually been to the surface. These astronauts were studied carefully before and after, but the focus of those missions was not biological research. We do not know how long a human can stay on the Moon and still be able to return to the Earth without major health problems. The gravity problem could be mitigated with small centrifuges that you would take to the Moon. I've been a test subject on a human powered centrifuge here at Ames: You pedal the bike (which is on a small centrifuge) and you then begin to spin. Look at The result is exercise and an acceleration that is similar to gravity. The bigger problem is may be sheilding from the deadly radiation. Look at for more information.
Jen_Heldmann          <A>Good question. We do not have too much data on how partial gravity affects humans because we have only sent people to the Moon through the Apollo program and they only spent a few days on the Moon. That's not enough time to really know what the long-term effects on our health will be. However, since the moon has 1/6 the gravity of the Earth, we found that the astronauts liked to "bounce" around on the Moon - meaning they walked in a different way than on Earth! See if you can try to find some video footage of the astronauts walking on the Moon and you will see what I mean!

3434 <Q>are there any sicknesses you can get from being on the moon??
Jon_Rask <A>Possibly. If the immune system of the human is weakened from spaceflight, the reduced gravity, and the radiation, one could potentially get sick, but only from microbes we bring with us from Earth, such as those on our skin, and in our bodies. A recent spaceflight experiment called MICROBE studied opportunistic pathogens response to spaceflight.
Jen_Heldmann          <A>We don't have much data regarding human health on the Moon because the Apollo astronauts didn't spend a long time there. The Moon has no atmosphere so remember you have to always supply your own life support (which means you won't catch germs from the lunar air - since there is none)! But the habitat and spacesuits should be kept as clean as possible to avoid germs that could make you sick.

Quest_Moderator We will be wrapping up here soon. Thank you all for joining us. And many thanks to our experts Jen & Jon for their helpful responses.

Mr._Wallace <Q>So that we can determine how big our recycling area/program needs to be, about how much trash is produced aboard the ISS per person?
Jon_Rask <A>I'm not sure about that one, but you might find some information about that on
Jen_Heldmann          <A>This is a tough question because it depends on the activities of the crew. Trash and/or waste can be any number of things such as old hardware and equipment that is no longer needed, batteries, food waste and/or packaging, old chemicals, etc. All these types of waste have to be considered. One way to estimate how much waste a person might produce is to monitor your own wastes - how much trash do you produce in one day?

Mr._Wallace <Q>Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. The students find it exciting that their questions are being answered by NASA scientists.

west_valley <Q>Bye: We will check the archives for our answers . Thanks so much for your information. We really enjoy this project.::biggrin ::biggrin

Nishant_Sardar_Patel_High_School <Q>can the carbon di oxide we breathe out be resused by conerting it into oxygen?
Jon_Rask <A>Yes - photosynthesis is one mechanism that does it natually. You can also use physiochemical systems.

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>Due to the lack of gravity on the moon,people weigh less.does walking (jumping)on the moon take any more or less effort than walking on earth?
Jon_Rask <A>It takes much less effort. You weigh 1/6 the amount you do on Earth.

Rachelmr.harris_sclass <Q>Due to the lack of gravity on the moon,people weigh less.does walking (jumping)on the moontake any more or less effort than walking on earth?
Jon_Rask <A>But keep in mind that the reduced gravity could be initially challenging, and would require some adaptation. Look at how some the Apollo astronauts moved - the bounced. Normal walking was cumbersome due to the bulky spacesuits.

west_valley Diana<Q>: How do we make human waste into fertilizer?
Jon_Rask <A>Although I know very little about this topic, it is an area of important research. There are mechanical systems that do this but biological systems can do it as well. There are folks here at at Kennedy working on this.
Jen_Heldmann          <A>For this question, look into how waste is used to make fertilizer on Earth. Pay special attention to how this could be done in a greenhouse, because remember that on the Moon there is no atmosphere so in order for your plants to survive, they will have to be within a chamber or greenhouse so they can be surrounded by the necessary gases, be kept at the right temperature, etc.

Elizabeth-Mr.Harris_s_class <Q>How many tanks of oxygen woulkd it take to get everyone on the moon breathing normally?
Jon_Rask <A>The amount of O2 you'd need would be determined by the size of the crew, the rate that any leaked away, and how long you'd be there. If you're doing any burning or other O2 consumptive processes, you'd need to figure that into the calculation too.
Jen_Heldmann          <A>This question depends on the size of the tanks and also how long you plan to be on the Moon. Also, consider whether you would bring all of the oxygen from Earth or if you might try to use some oxygen that might already be on the Moon (for example, there is oxygen in the Moon rocks, and there might be oxygen in water ice near the poles)!

Quest_Moderator Thanks for joining us today. Jen & Jon will try to get to some of the questions that still need answers. Then we will post the archive. Check back on the calendar at for a link to the archive.

Additional questions:
MsJamison's Class:
- Is it possible to play sports on the Moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A>Sure, it is possible to play sports on the Moon. What sorts of sports would you like to play? Also remember that lunar gravity is 1/6 Earth's gravity, so that will affect how you will run and jump.
It will also affect things like how far you can throw a ball. One of the Apollo astronauts hit a golf ball on the Moon -- see if you can find any information online about how far the ball went on the Moon!

- Do you think we could have solar power energy on the Moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A> Yes, you could have solar power energy on the Moon. You have to make sure you bring solar panels and put them in sunlight. If you want to use solar power you might want to think about putting your habitat somewhere that has lots of sunlight. For example, there are places near the poles that are in near-permanent sunlight whereas a place near the equator gets 14 days of sun and 14 days of darkness each month.

- Do you think we could have malls and movies and other social activities?
Jen_Heldmann <A> Yes, you could have malls and movies and other social activities - just remember that you have to build the malls and movie theaters!
If people are going to live on the Moon for a long time then it is probably a good idea to give them a way to have fun recreation time.

- How can food be produced on the Moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A>There are many ways to produce food on the Moon. Maybe you would want to try and grow your food in a greenhouse. Early experiments to see if plants can grow on the Moon are going to be important to determine how much water and fertilizer you need to add to the Moon dirt to help the plants grow.

- What kind of life support systems will be produced?
Jen_Heldmann <A> In your lunar habitat design think about all the things that people need to survive. For example, your house provides you with shelter from the outside, breathable air, a temperature inside that is not too hot and not too cold -- all of these things are also needed on the Moon so that the astronauts can survive.

- How do the astronauts dispose of their wastes?
Jen_Heldmann <A>On the space shuttle astronauts can dump their wastes overboard or bring it back to Earth with them to dispose of it here. On the Moon, though, we will probably have to devise a different method for waste disposal. This should be included in your habitat design. Are there ways to recycle wastes?

- What does the spacesuits have to protect the humans from?
Jen_Heldmann <A> Humans needs spacesuits when in space because space is a vacuum, meaning there is no air there. So the astronaut needs air to breathe. Also, when we are on Earth, the air in the atmosphere above us creates pressure which pushes down on us. In space since there is no air that pressure is gone, and people need that atmospheric pressure to stay alive.

- Is it possible to have animals on the Moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A> Sure, you could have animals on the Moon but remember, just like people you need life support to keep the animals alive since there is no air or water on the Moon.

- Why are spacesuits so bulky?
Jen_Heldmann <A> Spacesuits are so bulky because it takes a lot of different materials to make a spacesuit that works. The suit has to be able to provide the astronaut with air inside the suit and also be strong enough so that it doesn't rip open or break apart.

- Is there any way possible to create a less bulky spacesuit?
Jen_Heldmann <A> Hopefully yes! NASA is working on new spacesuit designs to make them less bulky. See if you can find some information online about mechanical counterpressure space suits.

- Is there any type of temperature on the Moon?
Jen_Heldmann <A> Yes, there is temperature on the Moon. When the sun is shining it is VERY hot, and when the sun is not shining (when it is nighttime on the Moon) it is VERY cold. The temperature can range from 40 - 400 Kelvin.

- How could we get air to the Moon in large amounts?
Jen_Heldmann <A> There are several options that you should consider. You could bring all your air from Earth, or you could try and use some of the oxygen that is already on the Moon by extracting the oxygen from Moon rocks.

- Do you think oxygen tents are a good idea for air?
Jen_Heldmann <A>Oxygen can be used because we do need oxygen in the air to breathe.
However, pure oxygen can catch fire pretty easily so you might want to think about not using just oxygen but also include some other gases (for example, air on Earth has a lot of nitrogen in it in addition to oxygen).

We want to know where is your compass pointing on the moon and can you use a GPS or set up a similar system so you don't get lost while exploring.
<A> A compass can't be used on the moon for any reliable purposes because the Moon does not have a magnetic field. The Moon does, however, have tiny amounts of ancient magnetism in some areas of the its crust. It does not have a liquid core like the Earth (which generates Earth's magnetic field). Earth's magnetic field wouldn't affect a compass on the Moon (it only extends about one quarter of the way to the Moon).

Regarding GPS, there are no satellites orbiting the Moon that provide global positioning information for objects on the Moon like there is here on Earth, so GPS tools and receivers wouldn't work there. One would have to substitute with a different system, like one that uses wireless signals that can be used to communicate with and identify the positions of astronauts.

 FirstGov  NASA

NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: May 2005
+ Contact Us