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Lunar Research Station Design Challenge
Our class decided to use the ocean as the analog for our research station because there were many conditions similar to the moon. It simulates the moon best because there is no air and the conditions under water are similar to weightlessness. In both places there are dangers from natural disasters. There is no human life and the temperatures can be inconsistent. In both places there is little or no oxygen and humans will need to wear oxygen masks in order to breathe. The ocean falls short because there are living creatures and it would be easy to pollute and destroy the plants’ and animals’ environments. Under water there is a danger of animals destroying our buildings, and on the moon there are constant threats of meteor showers. Underwater, if you run out of oxygen you can swim up to the surface, but on the moon, you would have to take a spaceship back to earth.
For the architectural design of the station, we will use aluminum, stainless steel and titanium. We will have a geodesic sphere covered in solar panels on the top half. The bottom half will be in a crater (ice, water). The bottom half will be closed off by a floor segment and will be use for general storage purposes. The top half will have living quarters and research facilities. On one side there will be a solar green house to enable us to grow our own food. On the other side, there will be a structure for living, recreation, and cooking. There will also be another small building on the side of the station to purify water using solar heat and a condensation set up.
Our communication involves ham radio and GPS satellites. There will be relay stations from the moon to the earth and if one malfunctions, there will be back-ups to take its place. The ham radio will connect to a satellite which will connect to a random cell signal or if specified, it will go to a specific cell tower. Then we will be able to communicate to other humans.
The strengths of our research station are that it is constructed from titanium, it is built in a crater so the surface of the moon will not be destroyed. We will be able to get ice from the crater for our water needs. Some weaknesses of our research station are that the solar panels on the dome may easily break from meteors, our oxygen supplies could easily run out, and our food supply could easily be damaged.
Our day to day living will be a challenge. For oxygen , we will take the water from the ice in the crater and separate it into oxygen and hydrogen using electrodes. To cool the research station, we will use an advanced version of the cooling packs that you crunch and they cool. Heat will be provided with a system of pipes all through the station. The sun will provide the warmth for these pipes. We will use a steam turbine as a condenser to heat the water.
To recycle waste, we will put it through a process to purify it and use it for fertilizer for our greenhouse plants. The waste we don’t recycle will be put in sealed barrels that will be returned to earth on a periodic basis. The greenhouse will supply much of the fresh fruits and vegetables for daily use. Without a meat source we will use beans and other foods with protein to make sure our diet is healthy. Our food and water will be produced mostly from our research station, with supplements of freeze dried packs every few months from Earth. Our greenhouse will also provide many herbs that can be used for medications. Barberry, an example, reduces heart rate, breathing, and bronchial constriction. It also kills bacteria on the skin. The plants in the green house will also produce small amounts of oxygen.
We will have a treadmill and a stationary bike for indoor exercise. When we move, the turning of the treadmill will be converted into energy. Missing friends and family may be a problem for some of the researchers. Pictures, videos, and voice recordings of friends and family members may help to some extent. We must learn to trust and build relationships with the others on this mission. Our days will be filled with many experiments and never ending tasks to help keep us alive.
In our spare time, the scientists can watch videos, play board games, and listen to music. Telling stories and documenting our experiences is also another way to pass time when not working.
We will use the escape ship to venture out of the station to study the moon. For transportation inside the station, we will walk, for transportation outside of the station we will use the escape ship or a spacesuit. Each scientist will have two space suits, in case something happens to one of them.
NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: May 2005
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