Sunday, April 6, 2008

Of a Garden on the Moon, Part 1

Ken Murphy
Out of the Cradle
One of the key questions for early Lunar selenologists was whether or not the regolith of the Moon could support life. The results were pretty conclusively no, as most of the elements that we consider important for life such as carbon and nitrogen are scarce to be found. This would seem to make the Moon a pretty rotten place to try to grow plants, but there’s a strong likelihood that the Moon could turn out to be a fantastic place to grow the plants of Earth.

Early settlers are going to be looking to go deep underground on the Moon, with lots of rock above them to protect them from the vacuum and radiation. This does not mean that Moon dwellers will end up as troglodytes, as modern technology has given us many tools to work with that can help us create a subselenian paradise on the Moon.

While early plans for a Moonbase typically settled for an near-equatorial location to help keep the orbital mechanics easy and resupply cheap, newer ways of looking at how we return to the Moon, such as using an Earth-Moon L-1 platform as a staging location, are giving increasing consideration to polar locations. The difficulty of access is offset by what appears to be large supplies of hydrogen (in some form, currently unknown but hoped to be water) in the everdark craters at the North and South poles. There appears to be more at the North pole, but the more rugged terrain of the South pole, perched on the rim of the Aitken Basin, offers more interesting opportunities.

Read more HERE.