Moon pits — It was recently revealed that NASA plans on returning to the moon. Contrary to the Apollo mission in the 60s, the US space agency wants to actually build a station on the moon for human habitation. However, the question of the ideal site has remained… The solution though might be moon pits.
The US Space Agency has specified the schedule for the Artemis program, which will bring astronauts back to the moon by 2024. Three missions will be needed to achieve this goal, which will also be dependent on the smooth running of the assembly of a station in lunar orbit. The agency also plan to build a station on the lunar surface.
To achieve this goal, NASA scientists will develop a number of intelligent, agile and fast robots with the ability to investigate what the scientists refer to as as Moon pits. These Moon pits, according to the researchers, are full of resources and could be the homes of future astronauts on the moon.
Contrary to craters, which are the results of asteroids and comets hitting the surface of the moon over millions–if not billions–of years, these moon pits are formed when the surface of the moon collapses, just like sinkholes on earth. Some of them can a depth of 2 miles.
The robots’ mission will be to investigate whether these moon pits would be a suitable place for human habitation, mostly to protect them from deadly solar radiation.
The moon without a strong atmosphere like the Earth is constantly bombarded with deadly radiation from the sun. The radiation dosage for a year on the moon is between 110 mSv and 380 mSv. On Earth, that dosage is 2.4 mSv, or higher, depending on where you are exactly.
President Donald Trump had signed a directive in 2017 asking NASA to send humans back to the surface of our natural satellite. At first the date of 2028 has been fixed. But last March, the White House suddenly accelerated the schedule, demanding that American astronauts land on the moon by 2024. “It’s achievable,” said Jim Bridenstine. NASA has been working for years on the SLS mega-rocket and the Orion spacecraft that will take the astronauts. It will also rely on private industry to provide the elements of a mini-station in lunar orbit.
However, after the announcement of the plan to head back to the Moon and its potential cost, the President cast doubt on the program by tweeting that NASA should instead focus on “bigger things” like going to Mars.
According to the preliminary revealed by NASA, returning to the moon will cost between 20 to 30 billion dollars.
Unlike the Apollo program, NASA wants a sustainable presence on the moon. The station will last 15 years, and the space agency wants, in partnership with other space agencies and private companies, to build an infrastructure on the lunar floor to extract water, oxygen and hydrogen.
NASA’s is planning for 18 more launches of SLS and private rockets until 2028. And Jim Bridenstine insists that the orbital station will be open to all. “Maybe a billionaire will want to use the station to go to the moon with his own lander, because he thinks there are precious metals in some parts of the moon,” he suggested.