Numerous initiatives on Earth are preparing the lunar conquest, whether they are robots to build a lunar base, install astronauts in lava tunnels or help them to cohabit in conditions of extreme promiscuity.
Scientists presented Wednesday, at the assembly of the European Union of geosciences, a range of experiments in progress, having for common point to mimic on Earth the conditions of life which humans will face on other stars than ours.
They are part of a race to conquer the Moon, of which the American project Artemis to drop astronauts there from 2024 is only one facet, but also one day towards Mars.
One of the most ambitious projects, PRO-ACT, aims to develop three robots capable of installing an oxygen production unit on the Moon from regolith, the material in the lunar soil. This oxygen will feed housing modules and space vehicle engines.
Funded by the EU, the project brings together a consortium of European companies and scientific institutions. The first demonstration of the system is due at the end of 2021 at the Robotics Innovation Center in Bremen (Germany), where a lunar environment has been reconstructed.
With CHILL-ICE, you don’t need a facsimile. The project led by EuroMoonMars chose a Finnish lava tunnel, a natural volcanic cavity, found on the Moon.
At the end of May, three “analog” astronauts, that is to say equipped as if they were on the Moon, will execute a scenario in which they will have eight hours to install a life module in this tunnel, and then spend there. two days. The project is overseen by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG), founded by the world’s leading space agencies.
A similar CHILL-ICE experiment is en route to Hawaii, in another lava tunnel. It is organized by the International MoonBase Alliance, a private organization.
In Poland, it is a private company, the Analog Astronaut Training Center, based in the south of the country, which has carried out several missions simulating the conditions of isolation and confinement to which astronauts are subjected, such as those on the Space Station. international.
Its director, Agata Kolodziejczyk, a neuroscientist specializing in chronobiology, presented the findings in a virtual presentation. “Remote communication is crucial,” she insisted, as are “regular meetings that induce positive behavior”. Not to mention “pleasant long-term processes, like growing plants”.