The success of NASA's plans for a permanent human outpost on the moon may depend on the availability of technology that exploits the moon's environment and natural resources to obtain essentials like electric power, according to an article scheduled for the Feb. 5 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, the ACS' weekly newsmagazine.
In the article, C&EN associate editor Susan R. Morrissey discusses the ongoing debate about the need for humans to return to the moon, the costs, the scientific benefits of a lunar base and whether it should be in the hands of NASA or private industry.
If the project does move ahead, it may have to rely on technologies that utilize on-site resources to construct and sustain the base, the article notes.
At present, sponsors of the mission would face enormous per-kilogram costs for the solar cells and other gear that will have to be transported from Earth to the moon. Alternative approaches might avoid such sticker-shock, Morrissey notes.
One proposal, for instance, calls for using the lunar rocks and the moon's intense vacuum to make photovoltaic cells on site. Another approach calls for placing long strips of solar cells on the lunar surface, creating a large-scale solar power installation that could provide megawatts of electricity for lunar colonists.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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