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Additional Questions from the Challenge Webcast!

Answers from LaTasha Taylor

  • Since everyone on this webcast had the opportunity  to help design the lunar outpost, will we be able to visit the completed outpost when we grow up?

    Missions take a long time to plan. The next trip to the moon will be sometime around 2018. By that time you will be all grown up and ready to be an astronaut!
  • Can we have a parking lot on the moon so we can park our vehicles?

    There is enough space for a parking lot on the moon. You just have to make sure you budget the money necessary to build it.
  • Can we live on the dark side of the moon ?

    It is possible to live on all sides of the moon just like it's possible to live on all sides of the earth.

Amber/Coconut Creek Elementary:
Answers from LaTasha Taylor

  • Since the lunar habitat will have an upstairs, will there be an elevator or just stairs?

    There will most likely just be stairs because it takes a lot of power to run an elevator. 
  • Is there any type of fuel in the moon,in it's core, or anywhere, that we know of?

    We can extract oxygen from the regolith on the moon's surface to make fuel.
  • What would the lunar outpost be made of?

    Titanium if you are bringing materials from earth or Lunar regolith if you use the resources there.
  • How big would the research center be and what shape would it be?

    It would be cylinder shape, like the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) that we are currently living in - 2 floors, 8m in diameter.
  • How many rooms would be in the research center?

    We currently have 6 bedrooms, 1 meeting room and 1 lab room. I am sure the research center on the moon will be similar.
  • If there is a heater or cooler or both, would it be on oppistite sides or on the same sides of the research center?

    For safety reasons, they would be placed on opposite sides of the room.

Hadee/Coconut Creek Elementary
Answer from LaTasha Taylor

  • What was the purpose for the research center project?  

    To do research here on earth in the same way we expect to do it when we get to Mars. 

Vivek_GIC; India:
Answers from LaTasha Taylor

  • How this project is usefull for human being?

    It gives them an idea of what to expect when they get to Mars.

    So that astronauts can stay there for a longer period of time.

    To do research here on earth in the same way we expect to do it when we get to Mars
  • What is the solution for e-waste on the lunar?

    We are not sure about that yet, but we will keep working on it!
  • can you give me an opportunity to prove myself? i want complete my graduation from nasa. iwant to work with nasa, and wanted to be a part of nasa, i will prepare for this specially in physics.

    The commander of our crew admires your determination. Keep up the great work!
  • what is the solution aginst low gravity on lunar? i have an idea, if you want i am here.

    Well we want to hear your idea! Please, let us know what you're thinking!

Answers from Ben Corbin

  • What do you do when a member of the station gets ill?  What kind of medicines do you have on hand?

    Right now, on hand at the MDRS we have a pretty decent first aid station for our Health and Safety Officer (HSO). We have most of the basics of a home medicine cabinet (Tylenol, Advil, Ibuprofen, etc.) and lots of bandages, splints, and braces. Crew members must bring their own perscription medication. Since most space stations are sterilized to begin with, and astronauts spend two weeks in quarantine before the launch date, there's not a lot of health risks in space associated with germs, only lack of sleep and exhaustion.

Answer from Linda Conrad

  • My students loved this activity!  My question is, has any activity of this type in the past ever led to someone joining the NASA team when they become adults, after an experience such as this? thanks.

    I personally have not been at this for long enough to know the answer to that question. I guess, my involvement in Quest Challenges led me to join the team, but these projects only date back to the mid-90s so I guess time will tell!

Answers from Ben Corbin

  • What will you do with the waste? Will you decompose things for a greenhouse? Will you keep it all in a storage place?

    Yes and yes. Biodegradable trash will more than likely be decomposed for soil nutrients, but everything else would have to be dealt with in another manner. A cynical way to look at it is that we have the entire surface of the planet to turn into a landfill, but that would be bad for local geology and potential life. Trash compactors would probably be the best idea.
  • What will be an energy sources for the station?
    There are many available options for energy sources. An obvious source is solar power, but for the moon you would have to be able to store energy for 29 days in order for this to work perfectly. Carrying diesel fuel or coal would be possible as long as there are regular replenishing missions, because powering a station does not burn nearly as much fuel as a rocket launching a station into orbit does. A future power option for the moon is fusion of helium-3, which according to people I have talked with is the perfect fuel for nuclear fusion, and is heavily abundant on the moon, which is one reason why the Chinese have stepped up their space program.
  • How many years are expecting the station to be up there?

    In order for a lunar base to be cost-efficient, it would need to remain there for many years, so my guess is at least 50 years, a little less than twice as long as the shuttle program (although, the shuttle program was not scheduled to last nearly this long, they expected to have reached the designed 100 flights on each craft by 1990). For this to work, durable materials and low-maintenance systems will be needed because longer-lasting systems tend to be autonomous and have the least moving parts. I say 50 assuming that base is only used as a station and not as a platform for building a bigger moon base (like the first part of a huge construction site).
  • What are you wanting to learn about space, mars, and the Earth's moon with the research stations?

    As an engineer, our main goal is to accomplish something with what we have built. For instance, the Apollo program was a huge engineering success because we placed a man on the moon. However, the science aspects of the missions were a very low priority, and as a consequence only one scientist, a geologist, actually walked on the moon on the last lunar mission. Most of what we want to learn today is about comparative planetary science, meaning we want to study the physics of how the planets formed and compared our solar system to others to determine the makeup of exosolar planets. We pretty much have a feel for how the Moon was created from its geological makeup and current escape speed from its orbit around Earth. However, there are many mysteries about the geologic, atmospheric, and of course biological history of Mars that we would like to know.
  • How are the stations going to be on Mars and the Earth's moon? Underground? Above Ground?

    Most plans for bases are primarily underground with some above ground facilities. The primary reason for this is to protect the inhabitants from radiation, but having an underground base also provides a huge amount of insulation from the hot and cold cycles on the moon and the constant freezing temperatures on Mars. Three feet of regolith is more than enough to stop incoming radiation, and if anyone has ever been in a deep cave they know it stays the same temperature year round (and even though it may feel cold, it's above freezing, so the pipes won't burst!)
  • Is there going to be a greenhouse and/or a source of oxygen?

    Unless we plan on bringing all of our oxygen with us or find some other chemical means of recycling air, yes. I'm not too familiar with any methods besides using plants to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen, but there may be easier methods. Plus, the green adds a great human factor of a pretty color, because even today, on short trips, astronauts complain about how drab it is cooped up inside a tin can.
  • How are there going to be meats and perishable foods going be there and last?

    Good question, we really don't know for sure. Some perishables can be made from non-perishable items (bread can be made from wheat rather than brought precooked), some can be preserved for longer periods of time than your grocery store says they can, some can be fake (powdered milk instead of regular milk, which we'll have ot do soon here at MDRS because we're running out), but fresh fruits and vegetables would have to be grown in a greenhouse. In the early days, astronauts ate food out of tubes that probably lasted forever. We've come a long way since then, but plastic wrap doesn't always do the job.
  • How is the planet's gravity going to affect the building?

    A planet's  gravity will most definitely have an effect on the design and structure of a base. Assuming we're going to any other solid surface in the solar system, buildings would not need to be as strong, therefore then can be made with thinner beams and other structural supports, therefore they will weigh less, therefore it will cost less to launch them into space and make it a lot easier for astronauts to handle them on low gravity places. Thick material supports more weight, but since everything weighs less (but of course has the same mass, don't forget!) the support can be much thinner.
  • How are people going to live there for an extended amount of time?

    Very carefully, and with constant communication with Earth.  From what I've learned here at MDRS, things break down all the time na dyou can't call a plumber or an electrician to come and fix things; if you're in space, you're your only resource. You also need recylcing air and water, and a large food supply if you intend to stay without being restocked that often (or a huge Greenhab, but fresh veggies aren't as good as beef jerky and chocolate bars). You also need some entertainment; all work and no play makes astronauts go crazy.
  • What is the purpose of the stations?

    It depends on what we want the purpose to be! Right now, most station plans are research oriented rather than massive cities. One of the major research areas that would be included in a moon or Mars base would be comparative planetary science, meaning we would compared how things on Mars and the moon look to Earth and see if we can fix problems. For instance, we found out about the giant hole in the ozone layer because we studied Venus' runaway greenhouse gases, and someone wondered if we had the same thing on Earth. Sure enough, we did. One comparative point between Mars and Earth's atmospheres is why Mars lost most of its atmosphere. There is evidence that it once had an atmosphere twice as thick as ours, but now the pressure is only 0.6% as thick. So it all depends on what you want your station to do!
  • Where on Mars and Earth's moon are the research stations going to be?

    see next answer

Answers from Ben Corbin:

  • Where will the Lunar Outpost finally be located?

    We don't know for sure. Some professional ideas I've seen have the base dug into the side of a mountain to keep it insulated and protect it from radiation while at the same time have the opportunity to have a nice garage and ride out on rovers. We still need to solve the power situation because we can't have solar power unless we have panels big enough to store 29 days worth of power. This could also be done in a crater, but if you wanted to get out from the garage side it would be hard.

Answers from Ben Corbin:  

  • Can you also bring fish or amphibians to the Moon or Mars? Could they survive?

    I'm not the expert on this question, but I'll try. Short answer, yes. If you've ever gone scuba diving or swum under water for a few seconds, you know that you float almost as if you were weightless. The real differences between weightlessness and swimming are 1) there is no up or down in zero-G, and 2) there is no damping, which means you really can't stop yourself like you can when you're swimming unless you hit something else and cause it to move (also known as Newton's 3rd Law of Motion). For a fish in a microgravity water tank, the only problem would be bubbles of water would not go anywhere and the fish would swim in a different directions, not know which was is up or down. On a base, with even the smallest gravity field, the fish would know up and down and correct itself.

Answers from Ben Corbin:

  • How big do you think the lunar outpost would have to be?

    That depends on the goal of the base. We could launch a cardboard box up, call it a base and be done. However, if you want to base to do anything, you need to decide how many people would be on the base, what kind of operation you intend to have (research, launching base to other places, space colony, etc.). Obviously, the space would be a little cramped no matter what, but a 1000 sq. ft. base with an equal size Greenhab and appropriate power generation might be nice for a research station.

Ms. Jamison:
Answers from Linda Conrad

  • Thank you for the opportunity and I look forward to the next challenge.  Will the Wings Over Mars be available for the spring semester this year?

    Wings Over Mars, at this point, has movies and resources up and those will remain there. We are planning a challenge for the Spring 2007 having to do with high-resolution imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. We are hoping soon to be able to announce some exciting news soon about the Mars airplane. Stay tuned for more details at!
  • Will there be further NASA interactive opportunities for students to design and conduct inquiry activities concerning lunar and Mars research/settlement (e.g. classroom and summer programs) in more depth?

    As mentioned above, we have some challenges in the works that will include interactive opportunities for students. Hopefully we will be able to announce them soon. I will be placing registered participants in this challenge on our list to receive notification of future events.

Answers from Robbie Citron

  • Could NASA afford the high tech materials such as the microbial bioreactor, or would team up with other countries

    NASA will use the most high tech materials and will team up with other countries if possible.
  • About how long is the distance between the ice caps and the proposed station?

    NASA is actually considering making the lunar base near the pole of the moon.  There is likely ice near the poles of the moon in craters.

Answer from Robbie Citron

  • Will we be able to take wild animals to study on the moon?

    Some experiments may be done on animals on the moon.  They will likely live in a controlled environment on the moon.

Answers from Robbie Citron

  • Say we time travel to year 2020 would there be a time were you can live on the moon

    The current plan for the moon base may make it something like Antarctica bases.  Graduate students and researchers will go for short stays to do research.  Extended stays may become more common as the base gets more advanced.  Mars however, offers a much better location for permanent settlement because of its gravity, day cycle, and resources.
  • could you live on the moon if you found plant life  or a water source could you live a normal life?

    The is most likely not plant life on the moon.  But the ice that is on the moon can be melted to help grow plants brought from earth.  Bringing plant life from earth will definitely be necessary to live on the moon.
  • could you possibly start a fire on the moon

    To start a fire you need oxygen.  Since there is no oxygen you could not start a fire unless you were in a controlled habitat that had air.
  • how could we get or make food if we are on a research project and we have to stay for years and run out of food

    You can grow plants and bring animals that will reproduce to provide a constant food supply.
  • could kids go to space and maybe possibly help research

    Kids could be subjects for growth development research.  They could also help adults with experiments.
  • i have loved and enjoyed doing this project with your help
  • how long would it take to get to the moon and how long would it take to prepare

    We will have a base on the moon around 2018-2020.  It takes about 3 days to get to the moon.
  • have you been on the moon this year and how long did it take

    No flights to the moon have taken place since the Apollo missions.  The next flight to the moon should occur around 2018-2020.

Cameron_ Warrington_Middle:
Answers from Robbie Citron

  • do you think people will ever live on the moon.

    Yes.  We plan to have a base there in 2018-2020.
  • do u need to know math in NASA like 2 + 2?

    Yes, and a whole bunch more.
  • how do you transmit shock waves from home to space

    Shock waves are normally transmitted over a medium, such as the earth or the air.   Since space is a vacuum there is no real medium to transmit the shock waves.
  • why does the moon turn blue

    The moon very rarely actually turns blue.  And the only reason it appears blue is because of smoke or dust particles in the atmosphere.  In 1883 the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa caused the moon to appear blue for nearly two years.

Answers from Robbie Citron

  • are there any life saving medicne making  products on the moon and or mars

    On mars we may discover previous life forms that may give us new information about biology.  This will help us understand more about our own biology and may give us some new medicinal techniques.
  • are there any natural resources on the moon

    Ice, metals.
  • if we go to the moon and make a base there would our chromosomes or DNA possibly be altered

    The moon would not specifically alter our DNA. But after generations and generations of living on the moon humans might slowly adapt to the low gravity environment.
  • is it really possible for us to go to th moon and or mars

    Yes.  We have already been to the moon in 1969.  We are also more prepared to go to Mars today than we were to go to the moon in 1969.
  • what is the best material to use when making a spacesuit

    Hard shell suits are usually made of metal or composite materials.  Mixed suits have hard-shell parts and fabric parts.  Skintight suits compress the body using heavy elastic material.

Answers from Genoveva Negron

  • how could we get animals on the moon

    Actually we haven't brought any animals to the moon yet, but astronaut Chiaki Mukai has researched Medaka fishe while they are on orbit.  She measured if they can survive microgravity, if they reproduce and if they can swim.  The results were that they can adapt to space very easy.  We could, however, bring animals to the Moon the same way that we bring humans - launching on a rocket and riding in a space vehicle!
  • how will food be produced on the moon if we would haveto move there in case of emergency?

    We could grow food in a greenhouse on the Moon, the same way we are doing in the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS).
  • i have enjoyed this project
  • when is next time we will go to the moon

    NASA has plans to send humans back to the Moon by 2018.  NASA is sending two robotic spacecraft to the Moon in 2008!  These spacecraft are the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite.

From WestValley:
Answers from Jen Heldmann

  • About how long would researchers stay on the moon before coming back to Earth.

    NASA has plans to send people to the Moon for a few weeks at a time for the earliest missions.  After these early missions then people will stay longer on the Moon - for several months at a time.  
  • How many greenhouses do we need to provide oxygen for team?

    The number of greenhouses needed to provide oxygen for the team depends on several factors such as the size of the team and the amount of oxygen produced by each greenhouse.  Greenhouses can be a variety of different sizes, too, so maybe you would have one big greenhouse or else several smaller greenhouses.
  • How much ice are in the ice caps?

    There are no ice caps on the Moon.  However, there might be some ice in the permanently shadowed regions near the poles of the Moon.  NASA is sending a mission to investigate these regions to see if there is ice there (and how much).  This is the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission - more information can be found at
  • What materials should we use to make the pipes

    There are many choices for materials that you could use to make pipes.  Maybe you want to use materials that are found on the Moon such as titanium that can be found in the mare regions.  Maybe you want to bring the pipe material with you from Earth.  There are many different design options.
  • Would we remove our waste off the moon, or could we recycle it on the moon?

    This is a good question.  We should recycle as much of our waste as possible - for example, we recycle water here at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) through the use of a greenhouse.  If there are materials that you can't recycle then you could bring the materials back to Earth.
  • Where would the waste pipes go?

    Here at the Mars Desert Research Station we recycle our waste and water in the Greenhab, which uses plants to recycle waste and used water.  That means that our waste pipes go into the Greenhab.  Perhaps a similar system will be used on the Moon.
  • Is there an easier way to get ice rather than using Rovers?

    There are several ways to get to the ice that might exist in the permanently shadowed regions on the Moon.  We could use rovers to drive down to these places.  Another idea is to fly a spacecraft over these areas and then drop penetrators into these permanently dark regions.  Perhaps we could send a lander with a drill on it to explore these places.  There are many different options!
  • What materials will you use to build analog research station?

    Good question - there are many different materials that could be used to build the analog research station on the Moon.  You may want to try and use in situ resources - there is titanium in the mare regions on the Moon.  Perhaps you will bring some materials from Earth.  If you have a greenhouse you might want to use a material that will allow sunlight to reach the plants.  
  • What plants would give the most oxygen?

    Plants will give off oxygen through photosynthesis.  Therefore, more plants and larger plants will give off more oxygen.  Algae also gives off quite a bit of oxygen on Earth so maybe we will will want algae to give off oxygen on the Moon, too.
  •  Will there be a way to get oxygen from the moon dust ?

    Yes, there is a fair amount of oxygen in the moon dust and it is a good idea to try and extract the oxygen from this lunar regolith.  There are several ways to extract this oxygen and NASA is investigating many different methods to do this.
  • Have you thought of a way to get moon dust off moon?

    This is a great question because there is a lot of dust on the Moon which sticks to astronaut spacesuits and will get tracked into the Habitat.  We also have this problem here at the Mars Desert Research Station where dust from outside sticks to our spacesuits and gets tracked inside the Hab.  When we return to the Habitat after being outside we have a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner and we vacuum the dust off the suits as best we can.  We also vacuum the spacesuit storage room and try to sweep up the dust.
  •  How much energy will the AC & heater  take up?

    This question depends on the size of the habitat and how much AC and heat is needed for the habitat.  Power is one of the most important issues we have here at the Mars Desert Research Station.  Sometimes we don't have enough power to run all of our systems in the Habitat!
  • Is it good for an enclosed dam that melts ice to create electricity?

    You could use an enclosed dam that melts ice to create electricity.  You would have to carefully choose where you put the dam so that the correct temperatures are maintained for the ice and the liquid water.  Also remember to design the power plant to generate the electricity.
 FirstGov  NASA
Curator: Allison Pasciuto
NASA Official: Mark León
Last Updated: February 2005
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