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There are several different types of atmospheres to consider.

The most important for Lunar development is the pressure inside your space suit or habitat. Here is a listing of the relative pressures of other environments and the percentage oxygen in each.

Location Oxygen Percentage Pressure
Earth at Sea Level (21%) 101.3 kPa
Leadville Colorado, 10196 ft, or 3107 meters (21%) 69.6 kPa
Denver Colorado, 5295 ft, 1613 m (21%) 83.4 kPa
LaPaz, 3700 m (21%) 62.0 kPa
Mercury Program (100%) 34.5 kPa
Gemini Program (100%) 34.5 kPa
Apollo Program (100%) 34.5 kPa
Skylab (70%) 34.5kPa
Space Shuttle (28.5%) 70.0 kPa


Main Articles: Lack of Breathable Atmosphere and Improper Pressure

Under most circumstances, if you don't get enough oxygen pressure you will get altitude sickness[7], aka Hypoxia.

In the extreme case of a severe leak in space, you have to consider what the Death Zone does to climbers on Everest [8]. You should also consider "the bends," which results from nitrogen bubbles in the blood when depressurizing too fast.

Most desirable for long term habitats in the moon and in space is somewhere around 40kPa total with about 60% oxygen. In the event of an sudden depressurization this ratio means you do not have a hard transition to switch to your backup breathing systems. The rest is Nitrogen, water vapor and trace amounts of CO2 which can be isolated quite easily.

See Also