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The Moon’s Most Valuable Resource: Dirt

The Moon’s environment consists of a combination of atmospheric, thermal, meteoroids, radiation, magnetic field, and gravitational field mechanisms. If humans want a feasible lunar base we should look at the resources already on the moon to protect future lunar inhabitants.

The Lunar Shield

Lunar regolith or soil can be used to shield a lunar station and it’s inhabitants from the effects of the thermal, radiation, and meteoroid mechanisms. You may have pondered about the idea of using the soil on the moon but could you prove to NASA it would really work? Better yet would you live in a base made of lunar soil without scientific proof?

Lunar Base with regolith shield

 

Why Haven’t We Built The Shield?

Based on the individual threat of each of the Moon’s environmental hazards on human life a lunar regolith shield of 1-2 meters would serve to provide adequate overall protection for a lunar crew within a lunar habitat. If you were thinking NASA simply needs to construct a mound of dirt 1-2 meters tall then think again.The lunar shield would have to be compressed to provide adequate shielding from the Moon’s harsh environment.

Moon mound

 

Compressed?

You can see the compressed regolith of 30g/cm(top left) provides much less protection than regolith compressed to 100g/cm (bottom right image). The numbers inside the shielding indicate the amount of radiation that has penetrated the shield. In the experiment designed at UNM, inside a regolith shield compressed to 30g/cm shield you could get 120msv of radiation. Inside a regolith shield compressed to 100g/cm you would only get hit with less than 35msv of radiation. This is a noticeable difference.

Shielding

Where Is The Proof?

After much research at Johnson Space Center and various University Space Centers around the United States, lunar regolith should be viewed as a viable and effective in-situ life support system resource. The proved that:

1.Lunar regolith has heat generating and heat storage potential.

2. Lunar regolith has proven its shielding properties against the many types of cosmic radiation.

So with this proof in mind would you be the first to inhabit a lunar base made of compressed regolith?

Ask curious minds at the Lunar & Planetary Institute’s blog by clicking HERE

 

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