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Lunar Research Station Design Challenge

Final Design
Eagle Point Elementary 4th and 5th grade Science Club
Teacher / Club Sponsor: Dr. Lisa Milenkovic

photo of students with their model

In addressing this NASA Quest design challenge, our group of 18 4th and 5th grade students in the science club divided into 6 teams.  Here are our initial designs.  The station plan diagrams are in the attached Adobe PDF document (EaglePoint_diagrams.pdf).  All information and comments from students generated throughout the design process is on the science club blog at www.sleuthacademy.org.

LOCATION

  • The best place to build a lunar station is underneath a ledge that has many craters in the area. We suggest Dugan.   Our analog station will be built as a scale model in the science lab at Eagle Point.  The conditions in our local area would not serve as a great site for a full-scale analog station.
  • This site was selected so there would be less chances of another meteorite to smash into the moon. Another reason is so since we are close to many different craters we can use a tool to dig inside of the crater and take out some of the ice and melt it so it can be used as drinking water after it is cleaned in a very good filter system.
  • A strength about our location is that we have less radiation and we have less chances of erosion. A weakness is that we may have to have the station send out a machine that will bring in a new crater as a water source and that will either use a lot of gas in which you get from the moon or electricity in which we get from the sun.   We also need to do further research into the daylight availability at this location to find out the amount of solar energy available.

ENERGY and LIFE SUPPORT

  • Main energy will be solar panels. We need to verify that the location (Dugan) has the appropriate amount of daily sunlight to give enough energy for the station.
  • Backup energy will be stored in batteries.  Half of the energy we get will go into a back up battery system.
  • We will investigate the possibility of hydrogen powered fuel cells.
  • Life support - greenhouse (hydroponic or research into plants that will grow in the nutrients in moon dirt) will provide oxygen and food for the residents of the station.   We should have a greenhouse because trees make oxygen.  We should grow soybeans, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, grains, grapes, peanuts, bananas, apples, oranges, peaches, plums, and carrots.  Of course, first we should try just a few different crops to see if the greenhouse will work on the moon.  The initial crops in our analog outpost are rye grass and radishes.  We chose these because they are fast growing and would be a good source for removing carbon dioxide and providing oxygen.
  • Waste urine will be recycled into water for the greenhouse (ion exchange and sterilization), human waste and food waste will be sterilized and composted for fertilizer.

HUMAN FACTORS (draft diagrams are in the attached PDF)

  • For support recreation they could put a tennis court (not sure we have space for this initially).  Also for privacy they could make stapled curtains.  For social areas they could make lounges for different countries.  For quiet areas they could make a nice living room and for communication with home they could use walkie talkies that don’t run on electricity.  The bedrooms will be small rooms with bunk beds and a hammock for storing clothes. There will be a recreation room with 4 exercise bikes (note: probably don’t need 4, everyone doesn’t need to be on the bike at the same time). Kitchens will be simple with microwave ovens and a sink. The lounge will have 4 chairs with cup holders. The greenhouse will be bright, warm light with fans. Bathrooms will have toilet facilities with hand sanitizer.
  • The science laboratory is located in the plans on the above ground section – room for an observatory.
  • You will communicate with personnel in the field by radio signal.  The people in the field will be able to talk to people in the habitat as well as people also in the field using portable walkie-talkie devices.
  • You will provide with communications to Earth by radio signal as well as text messages or e-mails.

EXPLORATION AND EVA ACTIVITIES

  • Space suits will be lightweight yet radiation blocking.  Entry and exit to the station is handled by contamination team.  All rovers and exploration vehicles will be exiting and entering the station from the “Landing” area.
  • Our moon rover was designed to help have further exploration of the moon.  We made our moon rover to have enough room for two people.  Our model design has two compartments, one for people and one for rocks and items retrieved to bring back to the laboratory for further study.  The blue antenna with a small green fuzzy ball is for monitoring radiation during exploration.  Our rover is powered by solar energy and fuel cells.

RESEARCH STATION ARCHITECTURE and MATERIALS (detailed plans are in the attached PDF)

1.   Key features of the floor plan as in the attached PDF document:

  • The station will be part above ground, part below.
  • The architecture design is composed of many domes.
  • There will be a water tank (processing ice and water treatment), an observatory/laboratory, a ship bay, a greenhouse, beds and ladders (for accessing different levels of the station and minimizing contaminant transport from the moon into the station).
  • The research station will be part above ground, part below because we can’t land ships below ground but it’s safer to live below ground.
  • The ship bay will house our rovers and exploration vehicles (maybe some manned and some robotic).  The other above ground bay is a facility for a laboratory and observatory.
  • The above ground part of the base will be made of bullet proof cloth (Kevlar) because it is light and easy to transport from Earth, and the bottom will be made of hollowed out moon rock, covered with Kevlar or some other heavy duty lightweight material to minimize dust.

CONTAMINATION

  • Protection from radiation with space suits and station designed to minimize exposure with living quarters below ground.
  • The station has an entrance at ground level and then a stairway (or elevator) down to living and research level. Moon dust will be limited to this “landing” room. All rovers and ships will be stored in this room.
  • The Moon will be protected from contamination from the station residents by using the same decontamination entrance to the station and careful collection of all waste while exploring the moon surface.
  • We think that a fan system might keep dust out of the research station – blowing gas (even if it is waste carbon dioxide) over the spacesuits before the astronauts take them off inside the station. This will be in several stages working their way from the landing area down the ladders to the living area.
  • Carbon dioxide will be filtered through the greenhouse for decontamination by the plants. Grey water will be processed through the wastewater treatment system to provide water for the greenhouse. Toxic waste will be minimized through environmental responsibility. Any other waste will be stored for shipment in capsules back to earth.
  • We have read some articles suggesting that microwaves might be useful to minimize the dust issue by melting it.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:   We would like to thank all the organizers of NASA Quest challenge and especially Jennifer Heldmann for her feedback and we also give a special thank you to Mr. Edward Mango of NASA, JSC (Orbiter Project Office, Deputy Manager), for visiting our school and giving us live feedback during the design process.

Photos of the construction process of the analog model of Moon Base Eagle follow:

student model student model
student model student model detail
Edward Mango, Deputy Manager for Orbiter Project at NASA, JSC helps class Edward Mango, Deputy Manager for Orbiter Project at NASA, JSC helps class
   
student model detail student model detail
student model bed detail student model dining detail
student model vehicle
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NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: May 2005
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