May 22, 2024

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What the Moon will look like in 2100: underground homes, railway networks, robots and vertical gardens

What the Moon will look like in 2100: underground homes, railway networks, robots and vertical gardens

Hobbit-style homes, 'jeep' vehicles, robots and vertical gardens could allow people to live comfortably on the moon by 2100, The Sun can reveal.

Countries around the world are fighting to claim the moon's south pole, which is said to be full of “mystery, lore and intrigue”.

While the Moon cannot be legally owned by any country or organization, anyone who establishes a base there will have a piece of real estate.

Key players, including NASA, China, Russia, India and the European Space Agency, have recently intensified efforts to establish a more sustainable human presence on the Moon.

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The world is witnessing multiple attempts to “seize” the Moon's south pole, because it likely contains ice – an invaluable resource for future exploration.

Martin Barstow, professor of astrophysics and space science at the University of Leicester, described what the region could look like in 76 years.

What does the astrophysics professor claim?

Speaking to The Sun, he said that ice found at the moon's poles could be used to produce vital supplies such as oxygen and water.

“If you want to be there permanently, you have to build infrastructure that the Earth has to support. That's expensive. So you also need to know how many of these things you can build on the Moon.”

“I think what you'll find is that there's a lot of activity near the poles, where there are probably sources of ice that you can make oxygen out of and extract water out of.”

Professor Barstow said vital supplies could be used by the end of the century to support up to 100 people on the moon.

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Some people will be there for research purposes, while others will be there for business reasons. There may also be some “very wealthy” tourists.

Future homes on the moon may look like hobbit holes buried in the ground / Image: Shutterstock

Professor Barstow estimated that going to the moon could cost tens of millions of euros, which is the cost of going to low Earth orbit.

Since there is no atmosphere on the Moon, anyone who wants to live there in the year 2100 will have to live in an enclosed environment of some kind.

The idea could be inspired by the International Space Station – the largest space station ever built – which is currently located in low Earth orbit.

The space station's living quarters look like a set of tubes linked together by modules that can be added to over time.

Any future lunar base would likely be buried in the ground as a way to protect humans from radiation, a greater threat to the moon than to the space station.

Professor Barstow explained: “Low Earth orbit is a relatively safe environment in terms of radiation. Once we get out of that area, and certainly all the way to the moon, we need to protect people from radiation.

This would likely involve accumulating a lot of material from the moon's surface onto whatever was built. “So it's going to be like a hobbit hole, if you remember The Lord of the Rings.”

Plans are already underway to develop a railway network to operate on the Moon, capable of transporting people and supplies.

Astronaut on the moon / Image: Shutterstock

Professor Barstow said people would also use jeep-like lunar rovers to get around, but they would have to drive more slowly and more carefully than on Earth.

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The moon's surface is rough and covered with craters.

Lunar residents should be supported by autonomous robots but can also be controlled, at least to some extent, by humans.

They won't look much like humans, but they will have hands to grasp and move things, as well as cameras, tools for taking measurements, and other useful features.

Professor Barstow said: “I expect that it is possible that some kind of hybrid human-robot work will develop on the moon. Robots will be able to go to the most dangerous places.

“They can exist on the surface without life support for long periods of time, and I think that relationship is going to be very crucial in terms of how things go on the Moon in the future.”

How can humans reach the moon?

People who go to the Moon just on vacation or work can get there in vehicles like the Falcon 9, which SpaceX designed to carry cargo and crew into Earth orbit.

Elon Musk's SpaceX has successfully landed Falcon 9 thrusters 273 times as of Monday, March 25.

Lunar tourism in 2100 may only be for the wealthy, but travelers are unlikely to eat like kings or queens.

Frozen and pre-packaged meals and drinks will likely still make up the bulk of a person's diet, but Professor Barstow predicts that an increase in the “practical size” of the products could become possible within a decade or two.

Last year, scientists were able to grow cretamo — a small flowering plant that belongs to the same family as broccoli and cauliflower — in 12 lunar soil samples from the Apollo 11, 12, and 17 lunar missions.

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Vegetables and fruits could be grown vertically on the moon in the future, as gardens will be more compact using artificial light.

Researchers in the US have been able to grow plants on soil samples from the Moon / Image: Tyler Jones/UF/IFAS via AP

Because of the way the Moon rotates in its orbit around Earth, a month on the Moon consists of two weeks of sunlight followed by two weeks of complete darkness.

So future travelers may need to think carefully about their travel dates if they want some sunshine.

Professor Barstow said: “Energy is one of the real challenges of working on the Moon. We think it's easy to get solar panels there, and yes, they work great, but they only work for a couple of weeks. So, solar panels are not very useful during the two weeks when you don't get any sunlight at all.”

He added that there would likely be “many” small nuclear plants on the moon needed to support humanity in 2100.

Race of Nations to the Moon's South Pole

The moon's south pole has piqued the interest of spacefaring nations, including India, Russia, China and the United States.

Last year, India made history by becoming the first country to land near the southern region.

A few days ago, Russia also attempted to land in Antarctica, resulting in an emergency landing.

NASA's Artemis III mission is scheduled to explore an area near the moon's south pole.

The mission is an important part of a multi-year plan to build a permanent lunar base by the end of the decade.

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