We’re gonna be late! Let’s go!
The technology behind 3D printing has allowed users to craft musical instruments and prosthetic limbs, and now European scientists are taking a serious look at printing their own moon base.
Image: In this artist’s rendering, a 3D printing robot pours layer after layer of hardened lunar dirt and dust onto an inflatable dome shell, 3D printing a lunar base. Credit: ESA/Foster + Partners
The European Space Agency (ESA) study is investigating how practical constructing a manned base on the moon only using 3D printing technology could be, given that it would rely primarily on lunar dirt for building materials.
“Terrestrial 3D printing technology has produced entire structures,” Laurent Pambaguian, who heads the project for ESA, said in a statement. “Our industrial team investigated if it could similarly be employed to build a lunar habitat.”
A moon base with style
Pambaguian’s team partnered with the London-based architecture firm Foster + Partners to draw up ideas for a 3D-printed moon colony.
“As a practice, we are used to designing for extreme climates on Earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials,” Xavier De Kestelier of Foster + Partners said in a statement. “Our lunar habitation follows a similar logic.”
Foster + Partners’ 3D printed design is a simple four-person moon base that can be made completely out of repurposed moon dirt, which scientists call “regolith.”
Because the entire design is made primarily from indigenous lunar materials moon, there is no need to transport costly materials from the Earth into space. The base would be built using a robotic printer roving over an inflatable dome.
“3D printing offers a potential means of facilitating lunar settlement with reduced logistics from Earth,” Scott Hovland of ESA’s human spaceflight team said. “The new possibilities this work opens up can then be considered by international space agencies as part of the current development of a common exploration strategy.”
Hollow moon dirt walls
The base would have a cell-like but strong frame resembling the structure of bird bones that will protect lunar residents from gamma radiation and micrometeorites that could destroy a less robust build.
ESA and the agency’s partners have already built part of the base. Using a mixture of silicon, aluminum, calcium, iron and magnesium oxides meant to simulate regolith — a mixture of dust and dirt — found on the moon, ESA and its partners printed a 2,205-pound (1,000 kilograms) piece of what part of the home could look like.
“The planned site for the base is at the moon’s southern pole, where there is near perpetual sunlight on the horizon,” officials for Foster and Partners said in a statement.
The firm has started trying out the 3D printer in conditions similar to those on the surface of the moon. The team has started printing various structures inside a vacuum chamber.
This isn’t the first time a space agency has considered 3D printing a lunar base . Last year, NASA officials challenged researchers at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. to 3D print the ceramic-like simulated lunar regolith into smooth, cylindrical shapes to test the strength of the material.
Foster + Partners is also partnering with other firms to build the first private spaceport in the world. Known as Spaceport America, the $209 million base will serve as a hub for commercial spaceflight. The spaceport should be completed later this year.
Orphan Planets without Parent Stars
The word ‘planet’ has its roots in Ancient Greek, meaning ‘wandering star’, but a new class of planets has been discovered that take wandering to a new level. These planets are orphans, roaming through space without a parent star to orbit—they appear to be completely unattached. Astronomers haven’t ruled out that the planets may just be orbiting at a great distance, but this seems unlikely, because some were detected up to 500 AU (astronomical units) away from the nearest star. To put that in context, 1 AU is equal to nearly 150 million kilometres and is the distance between the Earth and Sun, and even the distance between the Sun and Neptune, our outermost planet, is only 30 AU. These free-floating planets seem to be drifting unshackled through the Milky Way, and they’re breaking new ground in the study of exoplanets and especially their formation—planets are formed in disks of dust and gas and debris orbiting a star, and astronomers theorise that these orphan planets must have pulled out of orbit at a very young age, thrown out of their developing solar systems. The planets detected so far all seem to be more massive than Jupiter, but this is because exoplanets are found by looking at the effect they have on their parent star’s light—so smaller planets are more difficult to detect, but astronomers believe that they are just as common. Amazingly, astronomers even think that these planets are more common than stars. It’s a beautiful but isolated discovery—a lonely planet wandering through the empty dark cosmos, without a star or solar system to call home.
That is seriously just amazing!
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Lol no one Punks NPH! He was just too cool!
If I won the lottery I’d do this for sure!
Quasars and interstellar water
The farther something is from us, the longer its light must travel to get to us. When we observe an object that is 13 billion light-years away—like some of the oldest stars—we are actually seeing what it looked like 13 billion years ago. Looking back in time at distant objects can give us clues about the properties of the early universe. Quasars, or “quasi-stellar radio sources,” are the most distant objects that we can see. The closest quasars are about 600 million light-years away, meaning that the last quasars died out just under 600 million years ago. We are only able to see these very distant objects because they are incredibly bright. Where do they get their immense energy? It is thought that quasars are extremely compact clouds of gas surrounding supermassive black holes. As gas rotates and falls into the black hole, it is heated millions of degrees and emits a wide range of radiation that spans the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to visible light and even x-rays. In 2011, a huge reservoir of interstellar water was found surrounding a quasar. Out of 200,000 documented quasars, this one (APM 08279+5255) is unique. It is termed “hyperluminous” because its absolute brightness is so great, and its water cloud is the biggest collection of water anywhere in the universe, containing 140 trillion times the water in Earth’s oceans and weighing 100,000 times the mass of the sun. Not only is it the biggest water cloud ever found, but the oldest water ever found—this quasar is about 12 billion years old, or about 9/10 the age of the universe. Read the study.
Guest article written by Michaela Alden (skeptic-tank.tumblr.com)
This just amazes me!