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Lunar Research Station Design Challenge

Nikki & Brent
Mrs. Franda & Mrs. Phillips - 8th grade science
November 17, 2006

Link Preliminary Design

Location – Malapert Mountain

model of lunar station exterior

          Our class decided to pick a location that would have lots of sunlight, have the ice caps nearby, and a place that has constant temperature. So we picked Malapert Mountain! Malapert Mountain is on the sunny side of the moon so it has sunlight 90 percent of the time there and illumination 97% of the time. Since there is sunlight for that long during the day we can use solar power for our lights and then at night we can use batteries for lights and energy. The polar ice caps in Shackleton Crater are only 100 kilometers away from the Malapert Mountain. Since we are so close to the ice caps we can use a rover, train cart, solar heater and pipes to get the ice back to the base. The Moon has a temperature range of    –243oF to 224oF.  However the temperature at the Malapert Mountains is much more constant without the extreme cold. Since the temperature is constant we won’t need to be changing our bases internal temperature as much.   


  • 90 percent sunlight for solar power
  • Constant temperature
  • Near polar ice for water
  • Visual sight of earth for communication and moral
  • Aitken Basin is the largest impact crater for lunar geology research
  • Near Shackelton Crater for astronomy/communication needs


  • Not know to have ilumenite for oxygen needs
  • Not near dense mineral deposits found in Oceanus Procellarum region

          Other places considered

  • Lichtenberg Crater located in northwestern Oceanus Procellarum
    • Shown to have dense deposits of minerals and ilumenite
    • Harsher living conditions with extreme temperatures and more darkness
  • Shackelton Crater
    • Show to have hydrogen ions for polar ice
    • To dark for solar power

Research Station architecture

floorplan of the station


When we go to the moon we will locate our mountain at the base of Malapert Mountain.   The ground temperature here is about 35oF.  We are going to blow a hole into the side of the base of the mountain with dynamite and build our base underground in the hole with the part of the base that is sticking out covered with regolith (moon dirt). The regolith will provide a shield to protect us from UV radiation, insulate the base temperature and help protect against small meteorites.  To move the regolith to finish the hole and to cover the research station we will need a backhoe.  The backhoe will be powered by RTG (see Energy). Our base will have no windows because of UV radiation and heat.

Our materials will all be UV radiation resistant and we will have no metal because of heat. We will make our building materials from regolith.  Regolith is made mostly of silicon dioxide with a blend of oxides of 12 metals.  The regolith can be melted and reformed to make a smooth hard substance.  The regolith will be heated to a high temperature in a solar furnace built from foil and mirrors to concentrate the sun rays (about 1100oC).  Then the heated regolith will be cast into bricks to be used in building the Research Station.  The exterior walls will be 2 feet thick.

As the space station is expanded another way to protect from UV radiation would be to make a plasma shield over the research station complex.  An warning system to detect meteors could also be installed so that people had time to get into safe shelters.

Interior of Research Station

Each room will have a plant or tree in it to help with oxygen a little. We will have a sleeping room, kitchen, work/living area, bathroom, changing room/entrance, and a greenhouse.   There will be an air filtration system to remove dust particles and other airborne material.

  • Greenhouse

The greenhouse will have artificial variable day/night lights and misters.  The lights would need to have low energy necessary to power them with maximum output.  One kind of light would be mercury vapor lights.  It will have a system to recapture humidity and condensation for water (see Water).  It will be 12 feet by 18 feet which was determined using the fact that research has shown that there must be 40 m2 of planted area in order to provide enough oxygen, food, and water for 6 people.  This area would need to be planted with 2118 plants with 30 leaves to make enough oxygen.  The plants would need to be selected to be disease resistance and be able to produce in medium light.

  • Living Area – Kitchen/Workroom (Great Room)

The kitchen will have a two burner stove, sink and a microwave oven.  There will be a 4 foot by 3 foot table that expands to 6 feet by 3 feet for seating for 6.  There will be 6 chairs that are used both at this table and at the workstations. This area will also hold 6 desks so that each person may have private working space. The station will have 3 laptop computers, microscope and other research equipment and communication devices for both space to moon and moon to exploration purposes.  This area will be where exercise, communication, research and entertainment happen.

Exercise will be on an ergonomic bike exercise machine or using resistance rubber bands.  Entertainment will be from board games, cards,  ipods, and DVD movies played on the computer.  This room will be 7 feet by 29 feet.

There will be a refrigerator that is basically an ice box.  It will be a container that perishable food may be placed in and a chunk of polar ice that is brought back from the crater will be placed in one section to cool the entire box.  The refrigerator will not be part of the heated lunar station so as to keep the food cool.  It will be 2 feet by 3 feet.

model of the living areas

  • Bedroom

The sleeping room will have three bunk hammocks (one hammock hung over the other) that are 6 feet in length and 2-3 feet in width. When no one is sleeping the hammocks will collapse against the wall to provide more walking room.  There will also be six cabinets that go to the ceiling. They will be 3 feet in length and 2 feet in width.  The overall dimensions of the room will be 5 feet by 21 feet.

  • Bathroom

In the bathroom there will be two private toilets, a shower, and a device that takes the dirty water and urine and cleans it to use again (see Recycling – Water and Solid Waste). Hands will be cleaned with antibiotic lotion.  The bathroom will be 5 feet by 7 feet.

model of bathroom

  • Changing room/ Air Lock Entrance

The changing room/entrance will have six space suits in a cabinet and have three more extra ones in a built-in chest.  The chest will also be a seat to help with dressing. This room is 4 feet by 6 feet.

back view

    • Air Lock Entrance

The door to get in and out of the base will have one door than a little room then another door to the inside. In this way the entrance can be pressurized and oxygenated and only a small amount of oxygen will be lost when the researcher exits the station as versus an unlimited flow of oxygen escaping out of the station.  There will be suction on the bottom of the doors for an airlock seal. 

This double door system will also keep the regolith (moon dirt) from coming into the lunar station and getting into the equipment.  The doors will be cleaned regularly to ensure a good seal.  There will also be a system to help keep the regolith away from the door seals.  It will have fans on the outside door that are blowing waste gases out to push away regolith.   

This entrance will be 4 feet by 4 feet.  The doorway is larger because men in space suits will be larger and there needs to be enough space so that the suits do not get damaged.

Energy and Life Support


Our Lunar Research Station will use solar power with backup rechargeable fuel cells.  Collection panels will be put on side of the mountain.  Collection panels will be made by using melted regolith as a base with solar collectors embedded on top.  In case the solar panels fail, we will use backup power batteries and RTG batteries.  

  • Advantages: Solar power is a renewable source of energy.  There is no weather on the moon to block the rays of the sun.  Our location (Malapest Mountain) receives sunlight 90% of the lunar day.  Fuel cells on the space station can last for 17 days- this is more than enough for the remaining 10% of the lunar day.
  • Disadvantage
    • Solar panels could be destroyed by meteorites that hit the moon.
    • Replacement panels would be required to be on the station. 
  • Other energy sources
    • RTG - Radioisotope thermoelectric generators will be used for our high-energy requirements and for a backup for the fuel cells.  We need this to transport ice from polar ice caps to the space research station (see H20).


Our Lunar Research Station will get its oxygen at first from a machine that uses electrolysis to separate the water into hydrogen and oxygen gas.  (The current machine on the Space Station supports six crew members).  Our second source of oxygen will come from plants grown in the space station.  It will take 350 plants (30 leaves each) to support 1 human.  A future source of oxygen may come from heating oxygen- rich moon rocks (ilumenite).   Extra oxygen can be stored cryogenically.

  • Advantages:
    • The oxygen generating machine currently works on the space station. 
    • Using plants and rocks, in the future, reduce the water needs.
  • Disadvantages
    • The machine requires water (see H20). 
    • Machines can break so we would need space parts.


Our initial source of water will be water transported from Earth.  Hopefully there will be polar ice near our location for a primary water source.  A second source of water will be recycled water from the research station.  (See Recycling)

  • Transporting Ice from Polar Ice Cap to Research Base

A rover will move ice from polar ice caps in the bottom of the polar craters into solar powered carts that will run on train tracks to our research station.  Once they arrive at the research station, ice will be collected in a mirrored holding tank.  The sun will reflect off the mirrors, create heat, and melt the ice.  The water will be purified and used in the space research station.  


Sources of food include food brought from earth and food grown in the research station.

  • Food Grown in the Research Station
  • Plants: Vegetables and fruit that have high yield on a small space and are resistant to disease.
  • Vegetables- beans, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, peppers, and wheat.
  • Fruits- miniature fruit trees
  • Carbohydrates- potatoes
  • Protein- peanuts
  • Food brought from Earth

Food that cannot be grown on station that has long storage life and takes up little space. Dehydrated food takes up less space and doesn't spoil.

    • Dehydrated products
      • Dry milk, beef jerky, salt pork/ham
    • Other
      • Popcorn, rice, pasta, grains
  • Greenhouse species brought from Earth
    • Animals
      • Chickens
        • Food - eggs, chicken meat,
        • Fertilizer for greenhouse plants
        • Poison warning if air becomes bad.
    • Insects
      • Ladybugs
        • Pollination of plants
      • Bees
        • Pollination of plants
        • Sugar (honey) from hives
        • Exercise running from bees
        • Note:  No astronaut with a bee sting allergy will be permitted in the station


  • Air

The Space Research Station will be air tight and sealed.  Fans will move the air around.  Charcoal filters will remove poisonous gases from the air and vent to the outside (see air lock doors).  Plants will use CO2 for photosynthesis and make oxygen.

  • Water

Water will be recycled from 3 sources; potable water, urine, and condensation.  Water purification machines will recycle potable water. Urine will be purified and used by the oxygen electrolysis machines. Condensation will be collected and purified in the space station. 

Water obtained from melting ice from the polar caps will be also purified.

  • Solid Waste
    • Organic (feces, food waste) will be collected in a microbial reactor to produce fertilizer for the greenhouse.
    • Inorganic

All products brought to space research station will try to be package in recyclable materials.  When this is not possible, these products will be collected and sent back to earth on future transports.

Exploration and EVA Activities


Rover 1 will have big, large wheels and be used for research expeditions.  It will have a big seat to allow for the size of the space suits and have a big platform behind the seats for transporting large objects such as rocks.  It will be driven like a car.

Rover 2 will be robotic.  It will be powered by RTG (Radioisotope thermoelectric generators). It will be used to load ice into solar powered train carts to transport ice from polar ice caps to the research station.


We will use 2-way radios (radio waves) to communicate from base to rovers and researchers on the surface.

To communicate with Earth, microwave radio waves will be used.  A lunar satellite will probably be needed.


Space suits will be pressurized and have UV protection.  Life support systems will built in and will include air and water.  The space suits will have gravity boots.   The space suits will have a personal radiation monitoring device in them to protect against too much exposure to UV radiation.

Our Model

We constructed our model on a scale of .5 inch = 1 foot. All the furniture was hand –built from wood.  The actual furniture would probably be made from lighter weight synthetic materials such as is used on the earth.  The hammocks will be made with a synthetic/ cotton blend for longer durability and comfort.  Lego’s were used for the outer wall.   The Legos simulate the thicker walls constructed of regolith bricks that will be used in the actual space station.  Thinner walls will be used in the interior construction where UV radiation and physical protection is not an issue.  The sides and back of our structure will be buried in the mountain and not need the regolith brick walls of that thickness.

Analog environment

We built our environment (base of Malapert Mountain) from soil topped with sand to simulate the mountain as well as the regolith dirt.

We think there are 2 good analog environments on Earth to test our lunar base design. The first is McMurdo Station in Antarctica. This is the furthest southern rocky point and there is already a research station located there. Equipment could be tested there in a cold environment to see if it will withstand the extremes of cold temperature at Malapert Mountain. The second location would be the Sahara Desert in Africa where the equipment could be tested in a dusty, dry and hot environment.  This location would be very beneficial in testing our airlock door cleaning device.

Additional testing could be done on the ISS.


Works Sited


Al-Jammaz, Khaled, Alexjandro Diaz, Felipe Hernandez, Sreemathi Iyer, Carlos

            Ortiz, Bryan Richardson, Miguel Rodrigues, George Whitesides, Madhu

            Thangavelu.  “Elements for a Sustainable Lunar Colony in the South Pole

 Region.”  2001. Space Frontier Foundation.  16 October, 2006


Buhler, Charles R. and Leon Wichmann. “Analysis of a Lunar Base Electrostatic

            Radiation Shield Concept.” 28 April 2005. NIAC. 16 October, 2006


“Lunar Colony to Run on Moon Dust and Robots.”  24 January 2005. New

            Scientist.  16 October, 2006


“Lunar Ice” 31 August 2001. Lunar Prospector. 15 October, 2006


“Largest Impact Crater” 15 October, 2006

< >


Barry, Patrick.  “Breathing Easy on the Space Station.”  13 November

2000. NASA Science News. 15 October 2006


“Breathing Moonrocks.” Science@NASA.  2005 NASA. 24 September, 2006


“Plants Making Oxygen”


Heiney, Anna.  “STS-121 Payload Carries Breath of Fresh Air. ”  17 May

2006. NASA Science News. 15 October 2006



Barry, Patrick.  “Leafy Green Astronauts.”  9 April 2001. NASA Science News.

15 October 2006 <>


“Colonization of the Moon – Fuel Cells” 15 November 2006. Wikipedia.

15 October 2006 <>

Bull, Jerry. “Getting Power and Controlling Temperature.”  9 October 2006


“Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator” 12 November 2006.  Wikipedia.

23 October 2006 <>


Barry, Patrick and Dr Tony Phillips.  “Water on the Space Station.”  2 November

2000. NASA Science News. 15 October 2006


Atwater, James.  “Water:  Production, Reclamation, Disinfection.” 1996.

            Regenerative Life Support. 15 October 2006



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