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Moon lanterns can be a beacon for humanity on the moon

Credit: ICON

In October 2024, NASA’s Artemis program will return astronauts to the moon for the first time since the Apollo era. Over the next few years and decades, multiple space agencies and commercial partners plan to build an infrastructure that enables long-term human presence on the Moon. An important part of these efforts is to build a habitat that ensures the health, safety and comfort of astronauts in extreme lunar environments.


This challenge encouraged architects and designers around the world to come up with innovative and innovative ideas for lunar life. One of these is Lunar Lantern, a basic concept developed by ICON, an advanced construction company based in Austin, Texas, as part of a NASA-supported project to build a sustainable outpost on the Moon. This proposal is currently on display as part of the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at the Ravienna Lady Venetian Museum in Venice, Italy.

The Moon Lantern was born out of Project Olympus, a research and development program made possible thanks to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract and funding from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). The purpose of Olympus was to create a space-based construction system to support future exploration activities on NASA and other lunar surfaces, in line with ICON’s commitment to the development of advanced construction technologies.

To realize this vision, ICON has partnered with two construction companies, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and the Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch +). While BIG is renowned for its iconic architecture and work on multiple moon and Mars concepts over the past few years, SEArch + has a “human-centered” design for space exploration and NASA’s Johnson Space Center ( Known for many years with JSC). ) And Langley Research Center (LRC).

In fact, SEArch +’s past involvement with NASA includes work as part of NASA JSC’s Human Resident Division and the Moon to the Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology (MMPACT) team. They also participated in multiple phases of the NASA 3D Print Habitat Challenge (2015-2019), including Mars Himuro and Mars X-House V2 (Phase 1 and Phase 3 prizes, respectively).

The result of their collaboration is Lunar Lantern, a comprehensive lunar outpost that can be built on the moon using automated robotic 3D printers. Consistent with the philosophy of these companies and NASA’s Artemis program, the construction of this outpost involves many fast-growing technologies and in situ resource utilization (to minimize dependence on the Earth). ISRU) is used.

SEArch + is an updated video of the basic concept (below) showing how the lunar lantern concept enables a sustainable human presence on the moon for presentations at architectural exhibitions. (Displayed in) has been created. To address the various hazards of the lunar environment, the main habitat employs three structural components: seismic isolation devices, tension cables and whipple shields.

A seismic isolation device is basically a seismic isolation device, which is placed on the foundation to absorb the shock and stress caused by a “shallow” or “deep” normal “moon earthquake”. Shallow earthquakes occur at depths of 50-220 km (31-137 mi) and are caused by changes in surface temperature and impacts of meteorites. Deep earthquakes are rarer and more powerful, occurring at depths up to 700 km (435 mi). By tidal interaction with the earth.

Next, there is an externally mounted tension cable that applies compressive stress to the 3D-printed walls of the habitat. The outermost component, the whipple shield, is a double shell consisting of an internal grid and an external shield panel. This protects the internal structure from ballistic impacts from micrometeorites and ejecta (caused by nearby impacts), as well as the extreme heat caused by direct exposure to the sun.

In addition to protecting against extreme temperatures, radiation and seismic activity, one of the main concerns is the danger posed by all jagged and statically charged lunar regoliths (also known as “moon dust”). As they explain, the Lunar Module base is equipped to contain (and benefit from) this issue:

“The lunar lantern outpost consists of habitats, huts, landing pads, blast walls, and roads. The landing pad, considered one of the first lunar structures, was created during launch and landing. Supersonic and subsonic dust ejectors must be housed and controlled .. SEArch + design provides multiple strategies for dust reduction and dust collection in printability, shape, and function. To do.”

As the animation shows, the landing pad configuration allows dust to be collected and prevents it from spreading across the surface and interfering with operation. The collected dust can be used as a raw material for construction robots that rely on regolith to create 3D printed structures. In this way, the design not only prevents ejecta from becoming a serious danger, but also provides a stable supply of materials that can be used to make structural repairs.

Moon lanterns can be a beacon for humanity on the moon

Impressions of the artist inside the lunar lantern habitat. Credit: ICON / BIG

In terms of name, this was inspired by another important design feature, the guarantee of human comfort. In short, the lantern takes in the light from the lunar surface and turns it into room lighting that is tuned (based on the habitat section) and turned off completely to simulate the night. Or, as explained in the video, “To reproduce the daily circadian rhythm and seasonal cycle of the Earth, the lunar lantern captures almost permanent light in the lunar South Pole, brightness and color temperature. Utilizing a fiber optic system that modulates both, the interior of the habitat is vertically organized and specifies three levels: work and exercise, diet and social, sleep and private. “

There are also some Easter eggs in the video, which enthusiasts of commercial space and space exploration should notice. In both videos posted above (especially those created by SEArch +), some familiar vehicles can be seen on the landing pads. It includes the SpaceX Starship, which Mask promised to be ready to transport cargo and crew to the moon within a few years, and the Blue Origin Blue Moon lander (probably specially designed for NASA’s Artemis program). Human Landing System (HLS) variant) is included.

There is no shortage of ideas about how humans can one day live on the Moon and Mars. Design elements vary from concept to concept, but share the same commitment to 3D printing, sustainability, and the ability to use local resources to provide water, electricity, and food. Each also emphasizes how planning a sustainable life in a hostile environment can shape how we live on Earth.

Moon lanterns can be a beacon for humanity on the moon

Impressions of the artist in the interior of the moon lantern. Credit: ICON / SEArch +

The space architecture exhibition introduced at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition (held until November 21st) is not limited to the moon lanterns. The European Space Agency (ESA) has also partnered with international construction firm Skidmore Owings and Merrill (SOM) to showcase a proposal for a fully functional semi-expanding lunar habitat known as the Lunar Village. I am.

These two proposals beautifully show how proposals for living beyond the earth are becoming part of mainstream architecture. As the decade approaches the end, this trend is likely to continue, eventually leading to entirely new forms of architectural, industrial and interior design. As humans begin to settle on the Moon and Mars, the real estate industry can be expected to follow suit.


Lunar IceCube has passed important tests at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center


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Quote: Moon Lantern is the month obtained from https://phys.org/news/2021-06-lunar-lantern-beacon-humanity-moon.html on June 18, 2021 (June 18, 2021) ) May be a human beacon

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Moon lanterns can be a beacon for humanity on the moon

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