Difference between revisions of "Site Selection"

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(New page: {{Controversies}} ==Lunar Settlement Site Selection== ==And, the Great Instant Science Head Butting== A great contest is shaping up over the selection for the first, and quite likely onl...)
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==Lunar Settlement Site Selection==
==Lunar Settlement Site Selection==

Revision as of 14:07, 4 April 2007

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Lunar Settlement Site Selection

And, the Great Instant Science Head Butting

A great contest is shaping up over the selection for the first, and quite likely only at least for a long time, site for a settlement on the Moon.

Currently available data is ‘’’not’’’ adequate to definitively pick the winning location. Soon, enough new data will be available from missions like LRO to nail down the choice.

Right now, somebody should organize a contest between the different parties supporting specific sites. Maybe that somebody should be Lunarpedia.

Site Requirements

A good lunar settlement site must have a number of areas designated for specific purposes. Each of these sites will have very demanding requirements. Good travel routes and communications lines will be needed between each of the sites.

Living area
This area for buildings needs to be fairly flat and smooth. It should be away from other sites that represent dangers, like the Landing area, and away from areas that will seriously kick up dust, like industrial areas.
Landing and launch area
This area needs to be flat and smooth. It must also be separated from other areas by at least 1 kilometer. It must have good access to orbit with workable emergency landing areas along probable emergency landing paths.
Earth communication area: This area must have an unrestricted view of the Earth at all times for microwave antennas and laser communications telescopes. A glancing path near the lunar horizon could be a problem.
Solar power area
This area must have an unrestricted view of the Sun for as large a percentage of the time as possible.
Scientific Interest areas
There should be areas near the settlement that contain features of scientific interest and areas favorable for doing scientific experiments.
Industrial area, sunny
This area must be suitable for large solar powered industrial actives such as volatiles mining.
Industrial area, the cold and the dark
This area must have enhanced concentrations of volatiles.

It will be very difficult to fine one area with high rating high in all these categories.

Specialty Maps

Rating various proposed settlement sites will require a lot of scientific data. Some of the data is available now. Some of it can be calculated with existing computers and software. And, some of the data will be taken by lunar missions over the next few years.

One of the best ways to organize such a large amount of data is in the form of maps. Here are a few maps that are critical to selecting a site that might not be obvious or of interest for other activities:

This is not the altitude but is a contour map of the absolute value of the rate of change of the altitude. All activities will have serious limitations as the amount of surface slope they can tolerate. For example, Apollo rovers were limited to a slope of 35 degrees in the extreme and a 25 degree limit providing a safety margin. All the settlement areas must be connected by ground transportation, therefore all areas must be connected by slope contours below the limits of new rover designs. Areas not so connected might as well be on the far side of the Moon. We await the LRO data for this map.
Many areas on the Moon are strewn with boulders and are therefore very rough. This type of train is unacceptable for landing sites and difficult to use for most other functions. Roughness can be measured by radar reflection from Earth.
Percent Sun
This map is critical both for sighting solar power stations and for industrial activates requiring large amounts of solar power. This map can be calculated with existing software, but more precise altitude data will be a great improvement.
Percent Earth view
This map is critical for communication with Earth. The problem is not important for equatorial locations, where the Earth is always high in the sky, but is critical in polar and limb sites. Microwave links that even pass near to the lunar surface experience considerable interference. The Earth view map can be calculated with existing software.
Science interest: This map can be a photographic one but must be supported with a detailed descriptions of list of areas accessible from the site with particular scientific interest or that would be good sites for setting up scientific instruments.
Mineral concentrations: This will be a series of maps showing the concentrations of valuable minerals in the area of the site. Of particular interest are the Volatiles, Ilmenites, and titanium. Rough versions of these maps can now be assembled from satellite data, but more detailed information of specific sites will be needed.
Average and extreme ground temperature: One of the most difficult problems for a lunar settlement is to get rid of waste heat. This heat must be radiated to the sky but the radiator panels also see large areas of the lunar surface. The average ground temperature will strongly affect the power required for life support. Sites with surface temperatures significantly above room temperature for many hours during the lunar day will make waste heat radiation difficult. Sites with very low temperatures will make maintaining survival temperatures at night difficult, particularly in emergencies.
Your ideas here: There are many more important considerations.

Instant Science

Some time in 2009, the LRO data will start to flow. The American public will want ‘’’instant science’’’ (they always do). They are paying the bills so they are entitled to some consideration no mater how much the scientists hate to be pinned down for instant science.

One way to handle this problem is to embrace it.

We could set up a contest between various interested groups who would champion various sites for a lunar settlement. Each group would partially build the case for a specific site with all available data.

When the LRO data goes public, it will already be in the form of sophisticated maps. The software that generates the standard maps will also be capable of generating specialty sight selections maps with only a small additional effort.

The game becomes one of watching the LRO data like a hawk while looking for the times new data on your particular site will first become available. Then jumping on your data within minutes to move your sight forward in what will best be described as a horse race.

One special parameter to map is slope. Americans love their cars. They may not have a great interest in science but they will be fascinated by a map laying out what lunar areas they could drive cars, what areas would require off-road vehicles, and what areas are just plain clefts you would drive off. It will give the news people something they can deal with. Such an accommodation to a sponsor’s interests is reasonable.

To make this work, Lunarpedia will really need to find somebody to put up some real prize money. Lunarpedia could make this happen.

A few possible Sites

Here are a few sites that have already been put forward:

Crater Shackleton
South Pole, the cold and the dark
Mount Malapert
South Pole, the cold and the dark, See Malapert Park
North Pole
North Pole, the cold and the dark
Mare Tranquillitatis
Equatorial, historic
Aritarchus plateau
Rima Bode
Equatorial, scientific
Oceanus Procellarum
Equatorial, Limb
Mare Smythii
Equatorial, Limb
Oriental Basin floor
Crater Grimaldi: Limb, science
Central Farside Highlands
Farside, science
South Pole-Aitken Basin Floor
Farside, science, the cold and the dark

Pick your site now! The best ones will soon be gone!