If you’ve ever stayed up late and looked at that brightest orb in the night sky, you’ve probably wondered about going there, and what it would be like to live on the moon. While this has often been the work of dreamers, there are real possibilities that this could happen one day, although there is plenty of reason to believe that it might not be anytime soon. Indeed, based on the recent announcement of Space X’s plans, we may be more likely to live on Mars before our own next door lunar neighbor. Here is some information about why we will someday reside permanently on the moon, and why it might be some time before that happens…
Robots have been the status quo
At the moment, there seems to be little reason to spend the extra money to sustain a human on the moon. Most research, recently, has been able to be conducted by remotely controlling robots to explore the surface of the moon. It is much easier to keep a robot safe and functioning on a surface that experiences high amounts of radiation, and brutally devastating shifts in temperature that ranges hundreds of degrees in a single day, than it is to do so with a human being. Until it becomes more beneficial to send humans to conduct research, we are likely going to move in the direction of setting up self-sustaining robotic stations to further explore the moon.
Resources will take us there
While research is a major part of the reasons that it is beneficial to explore the moon, there is an industrial reason that could bring humans to the moon, permanently, and that is the abundant resources that can be found, there. Mining on the moon has the potential to be a huge industry. Indeed, the moon has vast deposits of Helium-3, a material that can be used to generate clean nuclear energy through fission, and one that cannot be found on Earth (here’s some more information on the benefits of mining on the moon). However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that humans have to go there right away. Mining technology (such as simulators, like this one) allows for the possibility of using tools from Earth to gather resources.
Water could change things
Water is one of the most important building blocks to sustaining life. According to one researcher, Dr. Paul Spudis, who worked on the Clementine probe mission for NASA, there could be billions of tons of water that is stored under the surface of the moon. Being able to harvest this water and utilize it would be a major step towards creating colonies on the moon, and would help human beings be able to start up food production facilities, among other things.
There’s oxygen in the ground
Aside from water, the other element that is crucial to developing and sustaining life is oxygen. Without it, there is simply no way that we can dream of beginning to colonize anything beyond our own planetary surface. Luckily, as well as the water that can be found there, lunar dirt is made of 42% oxygen. If we can find a way to mine this dirt and synthesize it to create breathable oxygen, it would go a long way towards sustaining human life on the moon. It would also be an incredibly important element towards being able to burn rocket fuel, which would allow us to take off directly from the moon.
Meteorites are a major hangup
One major danger of living on the moon is the lack of atmosphere that is enjoyed on Earth. Not only does our atmosphere help the planet contain oxygen, making it possible for us to breathe, but it also destroys many foreign objects that enter it before they hit the surface. The moon does not enjoy this same luxury, and thousands upon thousands of dangerous meteorites strike the surface of the moon, daily. This issue would need to be addressed before we could dream of living there.