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Moon Space Science Technology

Va. Tech Students Create Experimental Bricks For the Moon 137

goran72 writes "Students from the college of engineering at Virginia Tech in the US have made highly durable bricks composed of a lunar rock-like material, which one day might be used to build dwellings in colonies on the moon."
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Va. Tech Students Create Experimental Bricks For the Moon

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  • Energy required (Score:4, Informative)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:17AM (#26433375) Homepage

    Aluminium is present in the moons crust, but some big nuclear reactors are going to be needed.
    First for aluminium production, then for the brick making.

  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:24AM (#26433519)
    It could still be used for structural purposes, just add an airtight layer to the interior after the rest of the building is done.
  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:37AM (#26433731)

    So you seal it. Bricks aren't water tight but some how my basement manages. Build the basic structure then cover it with self healing foam on the inside. Make it so that anytime there is an air leak it sucks some foam into the hole and seals it.

  • Re:Energy required (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:29PM (#26434655)

    > Solar Energy on the moon is much better then on
    > Earth. 2 weeks of sunlight, no clouds.

    You just have to hold your breath for the two weeks when the sun *isn't* shining and your life-support systems won't work.

    The batteries required to keep you alive for a fortnight would be very heavy,probably too heavy to transport to the moon economically. However, you might be able to set up some sort of energy storage using local materials (pumping regolith uphill during the day, letting it fall at night and recapturing the energy.) Of course in any stored-energy solution, your panels have to be capturing >200% the energy you are actually using in order to keep store enough for the night time.

    The peaks of eternal light aren't quite eternal, and there aren't a lot of them, and they only exist in one place at the north pole.

    You ought to be able to generate a minimal amount of power during the night from starlight and/ or earthlight (assuming your panels aren't on the dark side), but I have no idea how much light those sources produce compared to lunar daytime. Not much, I'm guessing. Almost certainly not enough to keep you alive, unless you have a massive over-abundance of panelling.

    Of course, you could put some mirrors in orbit to bounce sunlight onto your panels even at night, that would be handy. The other option is to have panels all over the moon so that there are always some of them in sunlight, and cables to carry the power to where it's needed, but that would be a massive undertaking, you might as well just go nuclear.

    All told, solar energy for the moon is limited to very few uses. Anything that needs more than 50% uptime is no good. Maybe a few panels for secondary backup power (in case both your primary AND secondary power sources fail).

  • Re:But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by bcwright ( 871193 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:51PM (#26435061)

    Cosmic radiation is probably the least of your worries. Unless you can shield yourself from nearly all of it (which is difficult at best), you can actually make your exposure worse because the cosmic radiation will interact with the material in the shielding to produce secondary radiation which can actually be worse than the cosmic radiation itself since it will interact more readily with matter (i.e., you).

    But a lot of solar radiation is not nearly as energetic as cosmic radiation, and besides it would be very useful to have a protective heat sink so that your living quarters don't get too hot during the lunar "day" or too cold during the lunar "night."

  • Re:forget bricks (Score:2, Informative)

    by hattig ( 47930 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:07PM (#26435367) Journal

    Why not just scrape away 20ft of regolith, build structures with bricks made from the regolith, and re-cover with the remaining regolith? Sure, you can tunnel downwards from there as opposed to outwards, but I'm sure it's easier to use diggers and explosives to dig a big pit initially than it is to tunnel initially. Then you might as well expand outwards as you have the diggers and brick making facilities in place.

    Of course, by the time we're doing that on the moon, there'll probably be a way to build giant structural arches and domes using carbon nanotubes by some form of extrusion growing process that just needs the regolith as input, a power source, and something to take the finished goods away and erect them.

    Anyway, the biggest problem on the moon is the moon dust itself, which is really sharp and sticky, and thus really bad to get in your lungs, and nearly impossible to filter out in an airlock, and in a location with sparse water... ick.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:21PM (#26435633)

    I opened the article and got infected with a virus... dumb windows crap. Isn't there a way to report malware on this site?

  • Re:Brick house? (Score:4, Informative)

    by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @02:56PM (#26437289)
    He was eaten by the wolf while researching how to make long enough tubes.

Basic is a high level languish. APL is a high level anguish.