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Atmosphere on the moon?

Posted by: Andy Hill - Thu Jan 07, 2010 1:49 pm
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Atmosphere on the moon? 
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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Thu Mar 11, 2010 6:55 am
there was a pretty crazy proposal for a dome structure over a large (~25 km^2) crater presented at one of the ISDC events a couple years ago by Ed McCullough, who was at the time principal scientist for Boeing. it involved autonomous self-assembling robots being used to harvest regolith to produce an extremely strong type of glass (don't remember what) that could support the entire thing with a couple of meters of stuff. the atmosphere would be harvested either from cold traps or from embedded solar wind gasses in regolith. nitrogen would be the main problem as far as materials go, actually. the entire structure would be able to withstand relatively small micrometeorite impacts without any trouble, and robots would be used to repair the surface as damage was incurred. in the case of a serious breach, 30K cold sinks would be used to liquefy the atmosphere until repairs could be completed. this model is actually a realistic way of creating a large habitable environment on the moon in a 100-200 year timeframe (main problem is technology for the robots - the material harvesting could be accomplished on order of 10 years with appropriate exponential growth from the robots).

ISRU is of course absolutely critical to the successful completion of any meaningful base on the moon. autonomous self-assembling robots that can be created with a minimal number of imported components (probably just ICs and stuff that's hard to make) are required for pretty much any meaningfully large construction given the harsh environment and cost of sustaining humans. they're not required for small habitats, maybe order of 10 people, but for a large (order of 1000s) habitat you really would have to have them in order to complete the construction. they would also be very useful for making solar panels on earth if deployed in a desert region.

realistically, the best use of a lunar base would probably as a telescope site. you can make some really crazy stuff if you happen to be on the moon, and a lunar telescope would make hubble look like a pair of binoculars if done properly. as far as lunar objectives go, this would be a good one for nasa. just landing people on the moon again is kind of pointless - they could do some nice science but it wouldn't really be that revolutionary unless they got lucky. obama's space plan makes lunar habitats more, not less, likely as constellation was designed as apollo on steroids rather than a sustainable exploration plan. we need to work a lot on technology before we can seriously consider the moon a viable place to live for an extended period of time.

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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:54 pm
TerraMrs wrote:
obama's space plan makes lunar habitats more, not less, likely as constellation was designed as apollo on steroids rather than a sustainable exploration plan. we need to work a lot on technology before we can seriously consider the moon a viable place to live for an extended period of time.


I agreed with you up until that point. Obama's (and by consequence Bolden's) plan was a misguided Farce that would have removed the US from manned spaceflight exploration. yes there was alot of talk about doing research so that we could someday go to those places, but what good is research without the development and implimentation? neither of which were addressed in the plan. essentially saying "let someone else figure it out." It lacked vision, drive, and goals. It lacked the foresight and awareness you would expect from the president and NASA's administrator. But I digress... that is a topic for a different thread. (feel free to PM me on this)

as for the lunar constructors, have you heard of RepRap?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rep_rap
i think an upscaled version of this may workinto what i think you were talking about. Send a small number of robots, and let them build the rest of the robots needed primarily from insitu resources.

geodesic structures might actually work best (not 100% sure, not a civil engineer) as they would probably be relatively easy for automated systems to construct and assemble, have excellent structural stability, and would be material efficient.

I do agree that an observatory would make a great first use for the station,


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Thu Mar 11, 2010 4:27 pm
Nah, there's no way to do self-replication at this point.

I say send up one good quality harvester unit, and let it rove across the safe flat regolith areas to gradually pick up the small amount of water that's there. Lower risk, lower chance of failure.

It's too bad the LRO/Chandrayaan-1 bistatic experiment failed, because that would have been an excellent way to detect lunar ice. Maybe such an experiment can be arranged between 2 spacecraft in the future. They should have tested it out in Earth orbit first.


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:36 pm
MFL wrote:
geodesic structures might actually work best (not 100% sure, not a civil engineer) as they would probably be relatively easy for automated systems to construct and assemble, have excellent structural stability, and would be material efficient.

The framework for geodesic domes is really simple to build, they're extremely strong, but covering them is a nightmare. I've done a few as festival tents and greenhouses. They all ended up with an experimental feel to them due to the covering issues. I'm sure it can be done correctly by using proper factory equipment to make the covers. All mine were hand made.

johno


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:35 pm
instead of a cover, why not solid panels inbetween the structural components?


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:50 pm
moon dust has a propensity for adhering to surfaces right?
coult it be statically charged easily as well?
If so, i wonder if a geodesic structure, with a prefabbed cover could be 'spray' coated with moon dust, forming a shell over the structure. The prefab cover would have to be charged initially in order to attract the dust and hold it in place till a binder could also be sprayed to make a shell, but well, lol its a concept anyways. lots of bugs, i know :)


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Mon Mar 15, 2010 12:57 am
Aww heck, just find some underground lava tubes with enough space, and fill them with atmosphere. Alright, you could spray-coat the walls with some impermeable polymer first.

I'd be worried that a large enough exposed surface on the Moon would eventually fall prey to a meteor strike, so it's better to build underground.


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Mon Mar 15, 2010 1:47 pm
meteor strike, even if youare below the surface, may still be a problem...lol but yeah, i can deffinitly see it mitigating that danger greatly.


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:42 pm
At the same time, if you build in the more tranquil Mare regions, then you're also reducing the chances of a meteor strike.


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Mon Mar 15, 2010 4:57 pm
lol, and thus the old addage "location, location, location" rears its head, even in extra terrestrial places


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:08 pm
I know I'm late to the thread, but...

I little while ago I was working on a project to render a terraformed moon using Povray. I produced some test renders.

This is an early one, showing all of nearside:
http://twitpic.com/wuuch

This is a late one, with improved clouds and textures, but a crudely bodged atmosphere:
http://twitpic.com/xiy1y

The terrain data comes from the Kaguya space probe, so thank you JSA; I'm also compensating for the lunar geoid using Clementine data, so thanks to NASA as well. Open science is awesome.

I had a lot of trouble with the atmosphere. Making Povray do real Raleigh scattering is actually not hard, but unfortunately the moon is so low mass that the atmosphere's going to be so deep that the gravity gradient is significant --- on Earth you can assume that g is constant over the whole depth of the atmosphere, and my maths aren't really up to calculating a proper density function. (Any ideas?)

Those two pictures above use the same density function as for Earth. The first one is scaled up by six in an attempt to show what it would be like on the moon (this was before I realised about the gravity); the strange structures on the left are actually the moon's shadow through its own atmosphere! But this was causing various problems with Povray, so the later picture has a fake atmosphere like Earth's.

Unfortunately the project rather ground to a halt because I had a lot of trouble making the clouds look right, due to Povray rounding errors, and each image was starting to take multiple hours to render on a relatively recent machine. Trying to fix the clouds by trial and error was just way too slow. What I'd really like is the loan of a 48-core machine somewhere...


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:13 pm
sanman wrote:
At the same time, if you build in the more tranquil Mare regions, then you're also reducing the chances of a meteor strike.


Surely not! The only way I can see to reduce the chance of a meteor strike is to put the base where large mountain like objects shield you from the ecliptic plane. That would have to be in a deep crater near one of the lunar poles. Anywhere else on the moon would have a roughly equal chance of encountering a random passing space rock.

johno


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Post Re: Atmosphere on the moon?   Posted on: Tue Mar 16, 2010 2:13 am
Well, the Apollo Basin is supposed to be the deepest depression on the entire surface of the Moon, even exposing a lower layer of lunar crust.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35728750/ns ... nce-space/

This might be a hard place for another meteor to strike, given its low depth. On the other hand, you do see more impacts at the poles than at the equator on the Earth-facing side.

Ideally, you might like to find a place where you can have both the protection of the Earth, and the protection of local terrain.


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